Part 26: Clandestine Visits

We arrived home safely. Apart from the old damage, the apartment was intact. Mother quickly prepared a small snack, then our Italians said goodbye, and a few tears were shed.

We never heard from any of the men again. The neighbors reported that they had not yet seen an American soldier, but in the center of town, according to hearsay, a German defense ring was expanded.
Inside the house, the two Nazis were preparing for the final victory, as sandbags were piled up in the kitchen window. The view from the still boarded-up window confirmed the information. The flak battery had also prepared for final combat, as the gun barrels pointed to the west. A few kilometers away, the Americans stood immobile and invisible. If they attacked and the Nazis in the house fired even one rifle shot, it would be a death sentence for all the inhabitants. The plan of the two madmen, ridiculous as it was, had to be prevented at all costs. But the town was still occupied by German soldiers, and the Americans were still miles away.

The resulting power vacuum made action against the two suicide candidates extraordinarily difficult. Any chance, an unforeseen betrayal from the neighborhood or a random military patrol would mean death. Father and a courageous neighbor acted anyway. Under a pretext, I had to knock on the apartment door. When Ms. Obernazi heard the voice of the neighbor boy, she opened unsuspectingly. The two men stormed into the apartment. Taking advantage of the element of surprise, they disarmed the final victory fighters who were crouching behind the window in their brown party uniforms.

I had the impression that the two were happy about their disarmament, because they did not offer any resistance. Under the threat that they would be shot with their own rifle if they did anything stupid, they allowed themselves to be locked in the living room. The sandbags were thrown into the bomb hopper. Father took the rifle with him. The frightened Ms. Obernazi was given the stern advice that her apartment would be guarded by all the occupants of the house day and night until the Americans arrived. Secretly and with excitement, we all anxiously and full of restlessness hoped for a quick advance of the front, but that was to take a whole night and the following day.

Exciting hours came to an end. Incessantly the house guards were checked, and the invisible front was controlled, but nothing happened. Everything remained quiet. Evening came, and night descended on the settlement. The darkness increased the tension and heightened the fear. Despite fatigue, sleep was out of the question. Suddenly there was a soft knock on the boarded-up window. Everyone was startled. Father caught himself first. If the knocking was so restrained and cautious, then someone needed help. Enemies do not knock so hesitantly. Father opened the window. An anti-aircraft soldier stood in the darkness and asked to be let in.

Inside he told how he and many of his comrades had abandoned the guns because they did not want to die a hero’s death in the last days of the war. As former grunt, most of them had been wounded at the front and after recovery had been detached to the home front. He thought that now everyone was completely fed up with the war.

That’s why he feared imprisonment and just wanted to get home in a hurry. Father made it clear to the man that if he were picked up by a military patrol as a deserter here, he would be shot along with the family. No sooner said than there was a second knock, again hesitant. The next soldier was standing in front of the window. By midnight, about six to eight deserted soldiers had gathered in the apartment in the same way, I don’t remember the exact number. All of them wanted to make their way home and urgently needed civilian clothes for their plan. Now the looted things from the factory served well. Eventually, all the soldiers turned into more or less well-dressed civilians. ๐“ฃ๐“ธ ๐“‘๐“ฎ ๐“’๐“ธ๐“ท๐“ฝ๐“ฒ๐“ท๐“พ๐“ฎ๐“ญ

๐Ÿ’ก Do you have a Linkedin account? Then you can subscribe to my newsletter โ€žThe Bright Side of the Doomโ€œ โœ”๏ธŽ