Thursday, May 1, 2008

Yom HaShoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day – and Living in Europe From 1970-1972

At sundown tonight starts the one-day minor Jewish holiday of Yom HaShoah, the yearly remembrance of those who were murdered under the Nazi regime.

Stories of Nazi brutality and survivor miracles are always with me. For six years, from 1972 to 1978, I published survivors’ stories as editor of Friday Forum, the monthly “literary” supplement of the weekly Philadelphia Jewish Exponent. Many of those stories still “live” inside me.

Currently I’m working on the sequel to MRS. LIEUTENANT: A SHARON GOLD NOVEL. This next novel – MRS. LIEUTENANT IN EUROPE – will be based on when my husband and I were stationed in Munich, Germany, from September 1970 to May 1972. The following is a true story from that time.

In 1972 I worked for the 66th Military Intelligence Group, housed in the headquarters of the former Luftwafte (German Air Force during World War II). The motor pool (where army vehicles were kept) adjoined the entrance to the 66th MI Group.

German workers were hired to surround the motor pool with a chain fence topped with barbed wire to stop the theft of army vehicles. The German workers assured the U.S. army personnel that the workers had been putting up barbed wire-topped fences for many years and were experts at the task.

Imagine the workers’ surprise when an army motor pool sergeant told the German workers that they were incorrectly installing the barbed wire fence top.

“This is the way we have always done this,” the workers insisted. The sergeant said, “That may be, but we want the barbed wire to face outwards to keep people OUT, not face inwards to keep people IN.”

In my next post I’ll feature an article from the October 18, 1971, International Herald Tribune with the headline “Nazis of Oradour Massacre Hail War in Beery Reunion.” The article was accompanied by a photo with this caption: “NO TO NAZIS – Demonstrators protesting in Rosenheim, Germany, on Saturday when former members of the SS ‘Das Reich’ Division met to form an association.”

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