Part 21: Cherished Radio

The front of the house was cracked several times and covered with heavy brown soil from the basement to the eaves.

The explosion had thrown the topsoil from the lawn against the wall of the house and ripped all the window sashes out of their frames. In our living room and kitchen, the earth was so high that only the backs of the chairs and the tabletops were visible. The hard-gotten radio, father’s pride and joy was completely buried because it was right under the window. With shovels, father and I shoveled the furniture free. We threw the earth through the empty window cavities back into the bomb hopper. The radio emerged intact, but Father couldn’t try it out because there was no electricity. Eventually the electricity came back, and miraculously the old box worked.

We waited longer for water; for days after this heavy attack, people had to be supplied with water trucks. Two buckets per day per family, and that with this dirt. All the dishes and everything made of glass were in shards. Even the lamps had been torn from the ceiling; the blast wave had done an excellent job. I dragged cardboard and plywood from the surrounding bombed-out houses, and father nailed up the windows with it. During the night, we could clearly hear the emergency generators chugging away and the shouts of the men from the rescue service, who, at the risk of their lives, were searching non-stop in the rubble for missing persons. The entire situation was frightening and extremely depressing.

The next air raid was not long in coming. But this time we were lucky because no house in the immediate vicinity was destroyed. When the bombers had turned off and the flak had ceased firing, the people crawled out of the shelters, frightened and pale as usual, looking up at the sky. But there were no more planes, instead there were some white umbrellas hanging in the sky. The air defense must have shot down a bomber, and the crew tried to save themselves by parachute. We had all never experienced anything like that before. A parachute landed right next to our apartment block.

The pilot lay, hanging motionless from his parachute, next to the road in the field. He was incapable of any movement, possibly wounded. People surrounded the now helpless bomber pilot, who had just dropped his deadly load by pressing a button. The faces of the people, almost only women and children, reflected a mixture of disbelief, fear and even pity, but no hatred. Everyone was silent, no one did anything. From his grocery store, barely two hundred meters away, the merchant had watched the sinking umbrella.

Armed with a club, he came running to the landing, short of breath, and shouted, ‘Beat him dead! Strike him dead!’ No one moved. The pilot still lay motionless on the field. Before it came to the beating to death, the soldiers from the nearby flak battery were on the spot with a VW bucket truck and loaded the pilot into the car. To the chagrin of the surrounding women, they also took the light silk parachute. The grocer obviously belonged to the kind of Hitler-loyal fellow Germans who acted according to the principle: Enjoy the war, because peace will be terrible. Because shortly after this ridiculous performance he was arrested for embezzlement. In his cellar were stored hoarded durable goods and canned goods in all sizes. 𝓣𝓸 𝓑𝓮 𝓒𝓸𝓷𝓽𝓲𝓷𝓾𝓮𝓭

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