By Wallace Brucker
Though I have included a photo of an SS soldier, he must rename “nameless.” He was paranoid about using his name. I must respect that wish, even though he is gone.
I interviewed him many times over the 30+ years I knew him and his wife. He had been a Brandenburger that transitioned into the Waffen SS. As a Brandenburger, he assisted in saving downed pilots and fought at Leningrad.
He had been in the SS unit that dropped in on Tito, just missing him. He described being dropped so close to the ground, the chutes barely had time to open as well as the fire balls from the 20mm cannons fired at point blank range.
In Italy, when he commanded an SS unit, he had set up some anti-tank guns facing down a road. A U.S. supply convoy, apparently lost, wandered up and were captured. They were detained for a short time, and then sent back the way they came. The veteran said they quickly displaced before the inevitable fighter occurred—which it did.
The same unit, in the southern part of Italy, had been observing U.S. bombers fly the same route, at the same height, each day. His SS unit managed to get a gun to a higher elevation and shoot down one bomber. It crashed landed in the mountains above them, so the SS climbed to take the crew as prisoners. They then rapelled back down the mountain.
The SS veteran was bitter that the U.S. “took away (my) honor,” adding, “I was a soldier just like you.” His wife was bitter, as well. According to her, the “American JABOs” had strafed her mother, brother and her as they walked down a path in an open field. Her mother and brother were killed. She said, “He could see we were not soldiers.”
I last saw this veteran in 2003. He was in poor health. My Christmas card to him was returned in 2011. So many of the WWII German veterans are gone.