“Growing up, I was surrounded by broken men ― men who came home from the war filled with shrapnel and guilt. Men who were misled into a losing ideology. … And right now they’re resting in hell.” -Arnold Schwarzenegger
My grandfather was in the German Navy in WW2. I’ll never forget him telling me how much he hated Hitler. He also hated the Nazi flag. Once when on a ship crossing the baltic, he heard some of his comrades talking about Hitler. He said that they were making jokes about Hitler, laughing, etc. Two days later after reaching port, the men who were talking and laughing had disappeared. No one who served with them on that ship ever heard from them again. My grandfather never heard another sailor making those kinds of jokes again either.
My grandfather told me what it’s like to look up in the sky and watch American and British planes open their bomb-bay doors. The screeching sound of those bombs made you lose your orientation when trying to find cover, he said. What he meant to say was… you lose your mind. His English wasn’t perfect–but it was damn good. Luckily, he was outside of Bremen that day so he wasn’t in direct danger of getting hit. But he watched both the planes fly off beyond the horizon and the smoke and dust rise in the sky of Bremen.
My grandfather was captured by British soldiers as he was trying to defend his ship after the port where it was docked in Belgium was invaded in 1944. Two of his comrades were shot and died instantly, one fell into the water. As my grandfather reached for a concussion grenade, a British soldier pointed a gun at him and yelled… Don’t. My grandfather surrendered. He was taken to a prison camp in England where, because of his ability to speak English, was made a kind-of chief liaison officer.
My grandfather always expressed, with the deepest sincerity a defeated Prussian can, how grateful he was that the Americans not only freed him but also Germany from the horror of Hitler.
No hate. No Nazis.