Interview with E. Mayer, a veteran of the 10th Panzer Division, Reconnaissance Battalion, which saw action on all fronts. Regensburg, 1989.

[Above: Panzer IV Ausf.G from the 10th Panzer Division.]

Thank you for allowing me to pay a visit to you. This is not the first time we spoke, but I would like to write down some answers you gave to questions regarding the war. Can I start by asking how you came to be in the army?

E. Mayer: Yes, like many young boys of my class, I was full of fervor to serve our nation. It was the thing to do in the new Germany; love of people and land was the way. Hitler rebuilt all of the Wehrmacht from nothing starting in 1935, and he needed men. My father served in the first war so it was only natural I served as well.

My parents were proud to see me wear the uniform of the new Reich; it was our duty and set a good example. It looked better if you volunteered for duty instead of having to be called up and just doing your obligation. I chose the army, and was assigned to the reconnaissance unit, 2 company of regiment 8. This was in 1938 when I was 18 years old, around your age. Just think I was your age, thrown into a world wide war, and sent all over the map. Those were trying times for us all, it still bothers me to this day the things I saw. I pray you young men never see war or privation as we did.

You took part in the attack on Poland, I believe you said, can you describe what it was like for you. I would be curious how the Poles treated you and how you viewed them.

E. Mayer: Ah yes, Poland. That is what started it all for us. Hitler was bent on reclaiming the land that the Allies took away from us after the first war. Nearly every German supported him in this you know. Everyone knew that land had Germans in it and belonged to Germany. Looking back, he should have just let the Pollacks have it and sat back as we grew strong and wealthy, resettling our people here. My recon unit was attached to the new 10th Panzer Division and we started our training in East Germany. We knew something was up as we did real live fire drills and combat scenarios moving east. We had a new vehicle, the 231 [Sdkfz 231 Schwerer Panzerspähwagen] and I was trained as the machine gunner and radio operator.

When the word came that the attack was on we moved into Prussia and came down behind the main battle lines in the west. We were into the Polish part of Poland; you did not see much western European buildings here. They lived mainly in straw huts that we would see again in Russia. These would burn far too easy, we once stopped behind one to engage a Polish position blocking a road, and the fire from the MG34 set the straw on fire and we had to move away. We faced a very determined enemy in Poland, but they were not very organized. At times they had a larger force that would stand and fight causing heavy losses to our division. The Luftwaffe could be seen attacking their positions as well, which our commander was not too proud of. He wanted us to have the glory. We had a lot of green officers who froze under fire and refused to lead attacks. I remember that too, we had a lieutenant who was dismissed on the spot for not following orders to attack a road junction.

Because it wasn't taken on time, a large force settled in to defend it and we took losses due to that. See, it was no walk in the sun in Poland; they were a large army with modern weapons. They lost because the blitzkrieg was a combined arms tactic that made them defend too many places. We punched through the lines they set up as we hit them quickly with little time to reinforce. Once the heavy shooting started they surrendered in mass at times, or they fought to the last. They also had soldiers who used dirty tricks. We went into a small defended village quite by accident, but they did not shoot. They wanted us as their prisoners. As we stopped and they rushed to our steeds, our commander called for them to surrender, trying the trick of saying the division is right behind us and so forth. He was told they will surrender and we should bring up our commander. We turned around and left, radioing that reinforcements should be brought up just in case they don't surrender and try a trick.

Sure enough it was the truth, me and another comrade moved back to the town and they opened fire with all they had when we were about to enter. They shot out our tires and threw grenades. Lucky for us they didn't get anyone. We called in artillery and opened our own fire on them. We finally drove them off but the village was mostly destroyed and the people came out of the woods after. We did not have a good relationship with the Poles in this area, they were the eastern peoples and many held negative views of us. We had a few instances where some tried to help their army by felling trees in our path and taking shots at us. This was to be a recurring theme in the east. They call these people partisans but we called them terrorists as they acted in a manner that broke rules to attack us. Once the fighting was done the people came out more and sought our help. You would not believe how many fled west when the Soviets invaded. They came begging us for food and drink. I really felt sorry for them as these were whole families who remembered what the red army did 20 years before. It was truly a strange sight to behold where people who we thought hated us, looked to us as saviors.

We set up camps for them so they could be kept warm and later resettled. We learned there had been stories of mass shootings and attacks on Germans in some parts as well. It was after it was all over that the scope of why Hitler attacked made sense. We learned the Poles had started cleaning out Germans from ancestral areas and taking all the property to give to Poles. Those who resisted this were often beaten and some killed. Many Germans fled back to the Reich borders for safety. We thought this was maybe the propaganda people making a big deal of nothing. However, after it was over and we settled into occupation duty, the scope became clear to me as they started to return to their destroyed property. The Poles adopted a very humble attitude with us and gave us no problems. We would have the children come into our camp and we paid them to shine boots or chop wood. We had many prisoners who were kept out of the camps so they could help rebuild things that were damaged as we scrambled to get the people into shelter before winter came. That is what I remember about the Polish campaign. It was my first taste of war and I found I did not like it, but had to do my duty. We went into Poland to wage war, and ended up helping the people rebuild their lives. We would pull logs for the farmers to cut up, and give rides to the children when we could. In no way were we abusive or acted as superior lords of them. That was forbidden, we may not have liked them but we did respect them.

You were in France, can I ask you the same thing about what you remember and how were the people?

E. Mayer: We moved from Poland to Trier around April I believe. I was now with the newly named recon unit 90, still with the 10th Panzer. We were part of group [General Paul von] Kleist and our movement was brilliant. The trick was that the Allies had moved the bulk of their armies up north, thinking we would attack the traditional way. Kleist hit them where they did not expect us, in the middle of a forest which was hard to navigate, or so they thought. We spilled out and drove straight for Sedan. They tried turning their forces around but by now we had speed and surprise on our side. We took many prisoners there, which was just the start.

The French attacked at Sedan and there was a big battle there, but they were disorganized and suffered a crushing defeat that put them in a route. We pursued them from there on out, only stopping to overcome last stands or rearguard actions. We took a lucky miss around Amiens where a British anti-tank gun nearly got us. They hit us in the axle and it shot up into the engine. We had to shut it down and lucky for us we saw the smoke and peppered the area with fire. We must have hit them as they never fired again. A recovery truck had to take us to a repair place to get back in action. We chased them all the way to Dunkirk, only to have them get away from us. If you want my opinion, that cost us the war. If we could have taken the Brits and French there they would have had nothing left.

Can I ask about the historians who claim Hitler let them go to show he wanted peace. Do you think it's true?

E. Mayer: Oh I don't know about that. Hitler was not a general and was not perfect in military matters. I know we were all ordered to stop and to take a few days to rest and repair equipment. Supplies were short as well and this helped us catch our breath. I know the Luftwaffe was supposed to be stopping the evacuations but failed to do so. I did see some of the ships they sunk but it was not enough. Who knows, maybe in Hitler's mind he thought that by pausing us he would accomplish two things: show Britain he did not want to destroy them, and let us rest. At any point, it was wrong to do so for whatever reason. We still had a lot of fight in us and could have kept going if we had to. Sure supplies were hard to get but we made do, and found ways to get what we needed. One comrade could have gotten in trouble if the farmer reported him, but he stole a chicken and we cooked it up. Like I said we did what we had to do to make up for any lack of food. It was not right to steal but I remember we had no rations left on that particular day so we had to use other means to eat.

[Above: Panzer IV Ausf C 8 from the 10th Panzer Division.]

What do you remember about relations with French civilians?

E. Mayer: The French were not like the Poles. Now they certainly did not want us in the country, but they knew they were beaten and we meant them no harm. They wanted to make money off of us for sure. I remember the kids would try to sell us cakes and fudge bars. I would often see the young women out in their best dresses trying to get attention from us it appeared. After the fighting we were again on occupation duty and had a camp and barracks. The people would start to come by to sell us food and trinkets. We also received instructions on French whores. There were many houses where a lonely man could go for some short term comfort. I was too young to be interested in all that so I thought it a waste of my time learning about what not to do with a prostitute. We had strict rules we had to adhere to while in France. We were to see them as fellow Europeans and never take advantage or swindle them. I never made any friends but I did not dislike them.

I was able to take leave that summer and Germany was a place full of zeal and happiness. You would not have known a war was going on. Let me tell you, that summer in 1940 was joyous. There were many celebrations, shows, and events. I went to see the circus I recall, it had performers from all over. Some units were even put into reserve status and it appeared peace might be attained. How wrong I was with thinking that as well.

You were part of the invasion of Russia; can I ask the same questions about your experience in the east and the people?

E. Mayer: Are you sure you are not writing a book, this is my life's story and I want the royalties. Russia was hot and dirty one moment and then cold and miserable the next. I was still with the recon unit but now with the 3rd company which had our own small battle force. We had the heavy platoon, with anti-tank and engineers now. We moved to Silesia for training that spring and then in June were part of the middle sector. The Russians were no French or Poles, they had a massive army. I remember the first days it was very light fighting but as we moved inward they came at us like locusts. They were very disorganized but there were so many pockets of resistance we felt like a whole army was upon us each time. The division now had assault guns and better Panzers so anything the Russians threw at us could be knocked out. We could move forward and if we encountered armor, we had our own anti-tank unit to knock them out. We took many prisoners in the early weeks as they were cut off and surrounded.

I will say this about the people. Those who did not retreat with the army welcomed us as liberators. That is true, I saw it clearly. We would enter a village and the people would come out to give flowers and water. It was hot that summer so it was welcomed. Of course not all of them did this but I was surprised at the amount that did. It seemed each one we freed from the enemy was very grateful to us. Our radios crackled over and over to make sure we went slow and did not hit anyone. They would try to toss up children to give hugs and so on. There was a Gypsy camp we stopped close to and they all came out to welcome us, saying how hard life was under the Soviets. You know you must be careful with them; they are prone to being sneaky. We stayed close by and the regiment had a big bonfire and ate well. It was those peaceful interludes in wartime that I remember the most. My friend who was the driver ended up smooching with one of the girls who showed interest. He talked about that for days. You have no idea how big Russia is until you try to invade the country and drive on Moscow. We could move a whole day and feel like we made no progress.

The resistance was getting more and more as well. Stalin had a vast reserve which was being brought up from all parts of Russia. Japan refused to join the attack, which hurt us badly. I believe they were sore at us for helping the Chinese. We sent them equipment and arms which they used on the Japanese. We only intended for the nationalists to use it on the communists. Such is fate. If only they would have hit Russia that fall it would have kept the massive amounts of eastern soldiers from being sent west to stop our Moscow offensive. Japan was no ally of Germany and did more to lose us the war by attacking the United States. If they didn't do that Hitler could have stayed out of it as well. By bringing them into the war, we lost that day. I remember hearing his address of the declaration of war, and even though we felt flushed with victory, I felt that sensation that the war was no longer winnable with America coming into it. No sooner had this happened, just when we thought Russia was down, they launched a massed attack on the center.

We were poised to attack Moscow, we had moved equipment forward and had a few replacements. All of a sudden we were faced with a massive amount of Mongols coming at us in waves. You must understand by now we had had six straight months of non-stop action and were ready to land the knock out blow before we collapsed. These attacks threw us back in disarray and with a loss of irreplaceable equipment. Winter arrived and many units who had been in the field did not have proper winter uniforms. The supply situation in the east was a crime. Men received severe frostbite and other ailments. Something else I must say is this: Russia was a cruel war in that we had very lax security in the beginning. I remember taking towns and cities in the summer, and the Soviets were able to sneak in demolition teams in the fall. They did this with Stalin's orders to destroy all of occupied Russia. They wanted to make sure there was no food, water, or shelter. We would take a city, Kiev for example, and start to set it back to normal. Prisoners were released to go to the farms and so forth. We really tried to be seen as the liberators of the people. Then attacks started happening where bombs were planted. They set fires to the cities, blew up buildings with special remote bombs, and killed people who joined the new government. They created confusion and chaos in what was previously cities being reborn. They also started attacking hospitals, Red Cross vehicles, and trains. This was in 1941, these attacks killed many civilians and non-combatant personnel.

I lost a cousin who was sent to Minsk [Belarus] as a welfare helper to organize food collections for the population who was in dire need with the coming winter. He was in a barracks that was bombed in this way. The Russians say we were harsh to the people and brought in many security people to hunt down the bandits who did these things. I know we were not bad to the people, but these tactics I am sure hurt our image as liberators. We had to search people and places, and to enact strict curfews to stop these bombings. I heard of these things happening and was disgusted, who fights like that where they kill their own people to get at their enemy? If the war was fought in cruel manner, it was because Stalin ordered these animals to bring this on, and maybe it was their aim to make things hard with German security people. What was done on our side would have been done by any other nation facing the same situation. I know anyone who was caught doing these things, hiding those who did, or had knowledge they were happening, was tried and shot. I am told many of the Jewish quarter of these cities had hands in these killings so it brought on reprisals and removals. I did not see this and will not discuss the Jews, but there it is for you.

We advanced deeper into Russia, moving closer to Moscow when the eastern soldiers were unleashed on us, and that was all for my adventure in that place of shit. I do not miss it, and have no desire to ever see it again. I was wounded right before Christmas. We were moving to new lines when we were attacked by a fighter plane that used armor piercing rounds and I caught a splinter in the knee. We limped back to our new lines and I had lost a lot blood. I received a blood transfusion and was sent back to Poland.

[Above: A Red Cross ambulance shot to pieces by Soviet troops near the Dnieper River, 1941.]

I understand you were sent to Africa, were you part of the Afrika Korps then?

E. Mayer: No, I was in Africa but by that time we did not think of ourselves as the Afrika Korps, those were the earlier men with Rommel. We were sent to help fortify the Panzer army in Africa, which was now threatened by the Americans. You must know my full story here. I was sent to Poland to stay in a hospital where my knee was hit badly. I had to learn to walk again after they did surgery, and I had a very strict nurse who had a child I felt sorry for. She was a person who demanded strict attention to the rules and protocols. She would not bend with me or anyone. I was written up for sneaking a cigarette and wine when I was told not to. You know those types; she was not someone you wanted in the bed with you. I was able to stay warm that whole winter, and it was a bad one. I spoke with other comrades from the east who told of the horrors of it all. The Mongols took no prisoners, and were quite cruel. I must tell you this.

The first snowfall brought very cold temps; we were on a recon mission, and stopped to look around as we heard shooting. A BA20 scout car appeared just like that and our gunner shot it down knocking it into a ditch. The commander called for the men to come out and surrender; instead they jumped out and started shooting at us. This was unusual at this time, and they all went down in a hail of bullets. Our commander and driver jumped down to see if they were alive. They were all Mongols which we had not seen yet. We were amazed at their stupidity and bravery at the same time. We heard more engines and saw an attack column so we turned around and reported to our company commander. Everyone was surprised to hear we were facing eastern troops, up until then it was all Europeans. My wounding saved me I believe as shortly after my comrades were killed that January during an attack by a massed amount of these newly arrived troops.

I was healed up nicely by that March and was sent to France where some of the division was by Dieppe, where the British tried an attack. I was able to see the aftermath of this. It was much larger than what you might think. They made headway with their tanks and caused a lot of damage. It was by sheer luck that alarm units with anti-tank weapons were able to stop and destroy this attack. The British suffered a lot of dead and prisoners, and we felt a slight vindication for our time in the east. We knew we could still win. I was assigned to a new crew, and we trained while the south of France was occupied. That April it was decided we would go help Rommel, and so we received kits and training for the desert. We loaded onto big Italian ships and made the journey to the continent. We had losses going over so the entire division did not make it. We landed in Tunis and I was amazed at the way of life there. It was hot, smelly, and dirty. The people welcomed us all as friends and tried to sell us everything under the sun. You know our first action was against the Americans, and we destroyed them like it was nothing. It gave us a false sense of superiority, which did not last long. I remember we stumbled onto an American patrol and opened fire on them knocking out a few of their vehicles. We searched what was not destroyed and found so much food on them, I remember being worried.

We had been told they were not prepared for war, and could not sustain a long war. The food they carried was considered by us delicacies that we did not have. They had big packets of coffee, biscuits, and meat. They had cheese in pouches, and chips that we all enjoyed. I thought if they gave their army this, then what else might they be able to field weapons wise? The division blunted the Americans and knocked out many of their tanks, but we were surrounded. I was wounded early on, by a shot to the stomach. I was sitting on our car, eating American rations, when we were surprised by heavy artillery fire; I took a nasty round while jumping off for cover. I was hit badly, and lost a lot of blood. I remember thinking this is it for me, we knew that ships were being sunk quite easily by the Allies now. I was to be sent back to Italy for treatment, when the medical people gave me the card, I almost said keep it. I did not want to be stuck on a sinking vessel. Lucky for me, it was a hospital ship, and even though the British did attack a couple of them, mostly they were respected.

I made a safe journey to Italy, and then was sent up into Austria to have my stomach, spleen, and intestines repaired. I was kept in the hospital for a long time. This time I had a much nicer nurse, she was a French girl who was training with Germans. I forget her full name but her first name was Bel, short for Belsis. Every soldier tried to have her attention, but she made it clear she was only here to help us, and nothing more. She would always say "there will be no Bel in your bed, as I am already spoken for, and it would be a dishonor to try." We would always joke about that saying, but she stuck to it. My wounding was so bad; it brought an unfit for frontline duty label to me. I was depressed then. Africa had fallen and many of my friends and comrades had either been killed or captured. The war was not going well at all, bombings started, Italy was invaded, and the east was not good. I was assigned to work in the supply side of the army replacement units. I was moved to Holland to help with the supply trains. I did paperwork for what was allocated to the Atlantic defenses in Holland. This was in December of 1943.

What was life like in Holland and what were the people like? Did you see any acts of resistance or abuse of the civilians?

E. Mayer: I found the people quite pleasing to me. We had many foreign soldiers in Holland I remember and they did not like this. We had many of the captured Russians who agreed to fight for us here. I felt uneasy, as there were whole regiments of armed Russians, Georgians, and so forth who could revolt at any time I thought. You know in the end they did, they figured the war was lost and they needed to make it seem like they were forced to serve us. I have read that in one area they raised up and killed many Germans right at the end. That is what we get for turning them loose. They tell all these stories the press reports on, how they aided the resistance and spied on us the whole time. But, the people in Holland were very welcoming; we shared a lot in common. I met a girl in Rotterdam while I was at a café. I remember her smile and that we talked about the war situation, and how it did not look good for Germany. She of course told me she did not want to see the war go on, and wished we would just surrender. We laughed at that and shared ice cream. For the rest of my time there I saw her often, and we developed quite a relationship. They say today that there was a very organized resistance but I never saw it or heard about it. Life so very peaceful, only the drone of Allied bombers coming from England reminded us there was a war.

I would go tour the bunker sites with my commander and write down orders for the supplies that were needed. I was amazed that this Atlantic wall was nothing more than loose groupings of small bunkers and defended positions. The Allies would have been largely able to just walk into Europe from what I saw. In April I was sent into France to see some of the other defenses, and when I saw them I knew it was over. Our propaganda made it sound like there was a massive array of bunkers, guns, ditches, and mines to stop the enemy. In truth, there was hardly anything. Supplies were lacking, and replacement times were very backed up. Speer and the generals never did really fix this until almost the end. When I look back now it is amazing German arms were able to cause such losses to the Allies in Normandy. It is testament to our training and equipment. When the Allies landed at Normandy, they pretty much just walked ashore, with only a few points putting up a heavy defense. In Holland, when the invasion happened, there were strikes, I remember, where the workers shut down all the railroads and ships. It took a lot of threats, money, and begging to get them going again. This caused some tension, and I could tell the people wanted us out. Even my new friend was tired of it all, and just wanted the war over. She would often say that she liked me but it could never be, due to the war.

The Allies had started bombing Holland quite badly in 1944, and there was much death and destruction. I was witness to a bombing aftermath, and the people just looked forlorn and tired. I helped with what I could, and they blamed us for the bombs. I would hear them say if we were not here the bombs would not be either. It is a strange feeling to be an unwelcomed guest in a foreign land. That fall, I was recalled to Germany when the Arnhem operation started so I avoided being trapped. The train I was on was hit by fighters who were free hunting. They shot up a car close to the front, and I heard many civilians had been killed. Here the war came too close for me. I was sent to Aachen for a supply detail and was caught by the Americans. I was taken prisoner by young cowboys who treated me very well after seeing my silver wound badge. I had papers showing I was medically unfit for action and so therefore was treated better. I was released in 1945 right before winter set in. I was able to come home, although my home was destroyed. My parents were living in the country with a relative. I showed up right before Christmas. The time came to put the war away and start rebuilding.

What was life like for you right after the war?

E. Mayer: It was bad for all Germans. Our cities largely lay in ruins, there was much sickness, as the medical system broke down. I remember a deep feeling of despair, we fought for six years with all our strength and we were worn out. Many were missing, refugees flooded in from expulsion areas. There was no place to house them I remember. We took in a family from Silesia who had a daughter slightly younger than me. They had a very bad journey and had to hide her from the Russians. She was very pretty, and my mother said she would be trouble for the house. She went on to become my bride in 1948. We all worked together to tend the fields, and worked with other farmers to build a unified group to provide for each other. We were in the American zone so it was largely peaceful and we were left alone. I went to the city of Munich for some supplies once and was amazed at the level of destruction I saw. The Americans did not do much to help it appeared, at least early on. I saw women working on mounds of debris and children left alone to play in the rubble. Germany was a nation destroyed then, there was devastation in every large town and city. The amount of expelled refugees was quite sad to see.

This was truly one of the worst crimes in all of history, yet it goes unspoken today, most young people know nothing about it. I have learned that in the very cold winter of 1944/45 and the next winter many countless Germans who were old, weak, infirm, and sick were killed due to being forced out of their homes. I remember seeing all the cards, notes, and papers put up all over the area where relatives and friends were looking for each other. The victors took many children and they were never seen again. Perhaps they were taken to a better life than what post-war Germany could offer. Many people killed themselves when they learned of the death of a child or spouse. Prisoners were slow to return home, and due to a lack of men, crime was bad until the Allies got it under control. Many of the former camp inmates were free to roam around and took revenge on innocent Germans, which was kept quiet in the press. I saw evidence of this outside Munich. As we went through these years we took stock of what we had lost, and vowed to remember the dead. Also we vowed to move on, to rebuild, and to become happy again. Out of all this despair and hopelessness a new hope was born that the world would get better. Just look at us now, it is not perfect, but we rebuilt this nation into the heart of Europe again.

[Above:A terrible and beautiful photo all in one. A little girl plays amidst a plethora of discarded weapons and gear in Berlin, the remnants of her people's struggle for life.]

I had asked about the Allied claims of war crimes, and why so many Germans seem to agree with the Allied version. They agree that Hitler was bad, and the German armed forces committed many crimes against civilians. Why do you think so many Germans agree with the Allies? Did these crimes happen?

E. Mayer: The times were problematic with Hitler; many loved him and knew he was doing what was best for Germany. But others opposed him to the point of wanting to kill him; it was all political of course. Even that [Claus von] Stauffenberg who came from our division was one, I met him once. He was a cold one, who wanted you to know your place. The war left many people bitter and broken; the Allies used that to turn it against Hitler. What they once hailed as good and healthy was called a facade which is now criticized as evil and vile. As I told you before, I never saw this side, I always thought Hitler wasn't perfect, but he brought Germany back from revolution, and saved us from the red menace. The moral rebuilding of Germany was a sight to see, I will never forget it. However I think many Germans would ask, but at what price did that come? Many would say having Hitler was not worth the price we paid. I personally do not put a lot of faith in the stories that our former enemies tell about the war. I never saw these things they speak of today about killing civilians and rounding up Jews and Gypsies. I have even read where some general staff officers reported what it was like in the east, with all the killings, and it sickened him. Where was this?

I was in the same division some of them were, and I did not see any of this. I did not see civilians taken out of their homes and murdered. Quite the opposite, I saw civilians welcoming us in to care for cold soldiers. In turn we helped feed them and look after house repairs and so forth. I even saw Jews in the east totally unmolested, living as if in peacetime. It is just not true that we did these things to the Jews in the east, if we did it was a big secret carefully guarded and with fake Jews living in fake towns to fool everyone as to the killings. Young Germans have turned on us and believe wholeheartedly what our former enemies say. We have lived in fear of not only nuclear attack, but what might come if we are labeled as criminals. It is getting worse for us here, you can lose a pension just like that, and I will tell you that you will have problems finding people to talk to. Many do not want to share their true feelings as they feel it would bring trouble.

If they know you then it's okay, but if not they will not tell you anything like what you want to know. Some I feel even go so far as to make up stories about experiences, and some are pure lies about us. One told the weekly newspaper that he saw babies being thrown in a lake as part of the Hitler plan to kill defective people. He said it was German soldiers who were throwing them in. They want everyone to think that if you defend Germany or Hitler, you are a human animal. I can say to you that it might not have been perfect, and there may have been bad apples in the cart, but we behaved well. I never took part in any reprisal, and never saw any. I certainly heard comrades tell of seeing the aftermath of attacks by terrorists, but I never saw or knew of any mistreatment of occupied civilians. I really think people have made these stories up, or grossly exaggerated them to look good for the Allied occupiers or to get even for a perceived injustice. I want to add that the killings by our former enemies after the war need to be examined. My best comrade, who just died last year, was a prisoner in the east. He told of seeing countless men and women hung by the Russians. These were people who were rounded up as our helpers.

He said he was made to watch as innocent people, whose only crime was opposing Stalin or working for the occupation government, were murdered. The propaganda did this, it made any German or our allies be seen as nothing more than animals that were diseased and needed to be put down to save mankind. It is truly a crime what was done, and I believe what he told me wholeheartedly and I heard similar stories from others. My hope is the world never has another war like what my generation went through. The hatred generated caused the deaths of countless innocent people.

[Above: Panzer III medium tanks of the 10th Panzer Division somewhere on the vast Eastern Front, August 1941.]

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