Monday, July 31, 2006

Kevin Sites in Nazi Germany

How odd to find this old interview of a Nazi during World War ll, no doubt written by written by Kevin Sites’ grandfather -- and yet the similarities to the younger Mr. Sites’ missives from Lebanon are almost identical! Too bad; I respect the younger Mr. Sites immensely.

What to think?


Guns in the Closet, by Kevin Sites

At home in a town in southern Germany, an SS fighter waits to be called to action.

Hamburg, 1944 - Plumes of black smoke begin to fan out over the coastline in the distance. We ask someone in town what has happened. He tells us it's the power plant; the Americans have struck it with a missile. But it's impossible to confirm because the roads leading to it were bombed early in the offensive.

In fact, Germany's main north-south road is so pocked with bomb craters, blown-out bridges and blasted highway spans that there is only one route left for drivers headed into Berlin.

Twisted cars and wreckage litter the roadside. Craters, some as wide as 60 feet, have filled with water and become small lakes.

It is in this unfortunate but familiar reality for Germany that the new landscape is being formed — deepening current loyalties rather than shifting them.

Nowhere is that more clear than in the area I am traveling today, a Nazi stronghold north of the city of Düsseldorf. Here, I am told, few families have fled. Instead, they are waiting for the call of Nazi leader Adolph Hitler to come south to fight the Americans.

And there do seem to be more people on the streets and more families still in their homes, compared with areas further south, where so many have joined white flag convoys fleeing the fighting — as well as the uncertainty of where this conflict may lead.

It's not a difficult or even particularly mysterious undertaking to meet members of the National Socialist Party. Politically, they are part of the current German government and have been highly visible throughout the country, particularly for the millions of der volk in Germany. But it is the Nazis with which America says it is at war.

In Eastern Europe, many credit the Nazis with inflicting heavy losses on the Russian Army and forcing Poland to contract in 1939. In the West, the group is widely condemned as a terrorist organization, supported by Germany. It has been responsible for numerous attacks on various European countries, including the incident the sparked the latest conflict, as well as the extermination of the Jews, which left millions dead.

Even its critics concede that the Nazis are a well-organized politically and highly disciplined militarily, and the two are woven together through common religious, cultural and social threads.

"They are an integral part of the fabric of German society here," a source with an intimate knowledge of Nazis who did not want to be identified told me. "It's a fallacy to think they can be cleaned out or eliminated."

I'm asked if I want to meet a Nazi fighter in his village and speak with him briefly.

We meet "Heinrich" at his home and sit down to talk in his living room, while his four-month-old baby daughter lies on a blanket on the floor. He is in his late 20s and has a calm face. He is polite but has a resolute sense about him that creates a cautious distance. Like many fighters, he says, he has another job and only joins the SS when he's needed.

But even though he's not on the front lines now, he says there is still a lot of work to do in the village — like looking for American spies.

"We caught someone last night, he says, "sneaking around in the middle of the night."

I ask him how he knew the person was an American agent.

"He had two German passports," he says, "with the same picture but different names, and when we asked him a simple question he gave us a confusing answer."

"What do you do with 'spies' after you catch them?" I ask.

"We question them for a while," he says, "then turn them over to the (German) army."

As for the fighting in the south, he says it's not necessary for him to leave yet.

"I have a job to do and if the Americans want to come inside," he says, "then we'll do our job and defend our families."

He shows me what he will use to defend them. In a closet in an adjoining bedroom he reaches into the top shelf and pulls out a green shoulder harness full of ammunition clips.

Then, from the corner of the closet, next to some shirts on hangers, he pulls out an German-made Karabiner rifle and places it on the mattress in the room next to the ammo belt. He goes back to the closet and from the same corner reaches for a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and two canvas shoulder bags. He places these on the bed as well.

I ask if nearly every house in the neighborhood has a stash of small arms like this.

"Some have more," he says, pulling a Schmeisser from one of the canvas bags and locking on a 30 round clip. "But the larger weaponry is kept somewhere else."

Not in the houses, he says later, but in secret places.

"Where does the Schmeisser come from?" I ask.

He says that the SS buys all the weapons, sometimes even from the German Army.

He then pulls a grenade from the closet, screws on a cylinder of propellant behind it and then loads it into the grenade launcher. He shows me what has to be done before the trigger can be pulled to shoot it.

"Have you ever fired one of those?" I ask.

He smiles as if it were an obvious question. Yes, of course, he replies.

He then puts all the weapons back on the bed for a moment so I can photograph them. Although it's not uncommon for households in Germany to have at least a Walther pistol around the house, it's incongruous to see the three rifles and grenade launcher beside a baby’s bassinet.

Just as quickly as he pulled them out, he puts the weapons back in the closet and we are done. But neither he, nor the rest of the neighborhood, knows for sure how long the weapons will stay there.

2 comments:

Bensilly said...

I think all germans sound alike

K T Cat said...

The press has gone mad. I posted about Mike Wallace today. It's insanity.

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