Nuernberg Paratrooper Association
These gentlemen are friends that I made at the German Federal Paratrooper reunion while seeking former opponents of my father in Italy. All but one are paratrooper veterans...they went through hell and survived. Willi (left) and Bruno (second from right) both jumped on Crete on the 20th of May, 1941. Willie was wounded on the first day and Bruno was captured on the second day. Such was the fate of the Fallschirmjaeger auf Kreta. Karl (second from left) was captured in the Normandy by the Americans. Rudolf (right) was shot in the shoulder in Italy by an American. The late Fritz (center) was a fighter test pilot.
I had a great time with the paratroopers drinking beer and eating sausage in the cellar. The younger man in the middle (hand on table) is from East Prussia. His father was a Stuka pilot that was killed in Russia in 1943. As an 11 year old boy, his family fled when the Russians approached his town. He was actually in Dresden when it was bombed in February 1945. He saw the planes approaching. They were trapped in the basement for days after the bombing as the house on top was destroyed. They fled as soon as they were dug out. He said nothing was left standing and fire was every where. There was a Russian POW cage across the street from the house he stayed in before the bombing. After the bombing there was no sign of it or the POWs. He became a post war paratrooper that was trained by the 101st. He said the Americans made them do lots of push ups. He was a great guy that showed me around.
Green Devils in front of a Tante Ju. (German paratroopers in front of their delivery plane.) This is the type of aircraft, which dropped them into combat. Willie and Bruno jumped on Crete. Bruno was captured on the second day trying to take an airfield. He was released when the British surrendered. Willie was severely wounded in the arm within fifteen minutes of landing. Fifty percent of the German paratroopers that jumped on Crete were casualties.
Prof Dr. Heinz Bliss, president of the National German Paratrooper Ass., is awarding me what he called the "Erdkampfabzeichen" (ground combat badge) plaque in appreciation of my defending the old men. To make a long story short, while the paratroopers were honoring their dead in the cemetery, a group of German hooligans appeared, chanting "Murderer" as they threatened and approached the old paratroopers. I happened to be standing in between them and expressed my dismay and desire for them to stop. One of them then grabbed me on my lapel, at which point we danced. How ironic, me defending my father's former foe. Note the beginning of a black eye by my left temple.
In June of 1941 the victorious paratroopers were heralded as they returned from Crete. Exactly 60 years later, the old men are shamed by hooligans as they honor their dead.
Such was the fate of many Germans captured by the French. Many were held for years in forced labor camps. Some were sent to French Indo-China to fight for the French Colonial Forces in what came to be known as Viet Nam. The war did not end for many of then in 1945. The caption reads, Released from French camp 1954.
This picture is of the 2003 National German Paratrooper Reunion in Karlsruhe. It was sent to me by my friend Eduad Rabiega. In his letter he stated that the man dressed in the German Paratrooper Uniform from WWII is actually a British soldier that dressed as such to be the HONOR GUARD for them as a German could never get away with dressing as such today. When I attended the 2001 reunion, there was a group of British soldiers that also attended. They had just returned from Crete (Kreta) where they had been tending to and cleaning the German graves from that savage battle 60 years before. Die Versoehnung!
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'Lest We Forget