It is surely no reason to celebrate – but it is a part of “Lest we forget”. Just about a month ago we talked about the Centenary of WWI – and the statement of General E. Ludendorff: “Peace is just an interlude between wars.” Only a mere 25 years separated the two World Wars. The first one is also referred to as the “Great War” – I cannot see anything ‘great’ about it. The horror of the Second World War still gives me nightmares. The happenings during those five years are so deeply engraved in my memory and despite, or maybe even because, of my writing it all down in my book “We Don’t Talk About That”, WWII is much more ‘present’ for me. Had I hoped that to “Talk About It” would provide a certain relief? It is certainly what all my friends thought would happen. I did not. However, I still am glad I wrote it, even if sometimes my hands were shaking and my fingers hit the wrong keys…
My treat for you is a small story from my book. Enjoy:
One day, two men in brown uniforms came to our village. They inspected, listed and marked all the horses that were not field workhorses. They were to be brought to the village square. Father explained to me that we must also bring our horse, Lotte. We were at war and the Führer needed Lotte to defend the country. I asked Dad, “Why our Lotte? Can’t he use another horse?”
I was allowed to ride her into the village. After my dad lifted me off Lotte at the village square, I cried and was despondent for weeks.
There had been a lot of talk on the radio about why the war was necessary. Everybody talked about it. I can still see myself standing with my dad, holding his hand and looking up into his face while he talked to his friend Fritz K., the pub owner, about the possibility of both of them being drafted.
“Oh, Daddy,” I thought, “don’t go, I love you so much. I want to marry you when I grow up. You are more handsome than Fritz.”
This Fritz was younger and he liked both of my Aunts, Irene and Lisa, and I always expected him to become my uncle when he married one of them. I was just five years old but always listened to the grown-ups.
I had a gut feeling that I would never see Lotte again and that she would probably be shot dead by the enemy. It seemed to me that Lotte knew, too. When I reached up to her, she bent her head way down to me and looked at me with sad eyes when I tried to put my head against her cheek. Tears are stinging my eyes even now, so many years later just writing about it.
There must have been about twenty or thirty other horses taken that day, all loaded into trucks by the uniformed men. I hated them. Lotte walked up the ramp with her head hanging low. Some of the horses kicked and reared up but in the end, they lost the fight.
That was in September 1939. It was my first taste of war. It was not even long after that day that they came and took the battery out of our DKW car. It now just sat in the garage with an old gramophone with a big horn and a box of records on the back seat. Dad allowed us to sit in the car, wind up the gramophone and listen to music. There was a picture of a little white dog on the gramophone and a caption read, “His Master’s Voice.”