[from Christmas 1996]
There are times when it seems
beyond doubt that we are living in the age of the triumph of evil. Believe it
or not, there is still some good in the world. Not much, and on the rare
occasions when it shows itself, goodness must peep up from its hiding place
like a cautious groundhog and generally pop back underground very quickly to
avoid the swooping predators---but every now and then we get a glimpse.
On October 31st Herbert
Perry, a retired businessman in Durham,
North Carolina suffered a stroke.
He recovered in hospital and early in November was sent to Hillcrest
Convalescent Home. He had a roommate, an 88 year-old man named Helmut Bartsch,
who had been on a visit from Germany
to his married daughter in Durham
and who had also suffered a stroke on October 25th.
At first the two elderly
gentlemen didn't talk much, but then Perry's son-in-law brought him some of his
effects from home, including a bedside clock with a B-17 bomber on top. It
turned out the two roomies had something in common. "Ah, I remember that
silhouette," spoke up Bartsch when he saw it. "I remember the sound,
too. It was like a hammer of smiths, crack, crack, crack."
Over 50 years ago, Herbert
Perry was a corporal in the Army Air Corps in England, an air traffic controller.
Helmut Bartsch was across the Channel in Normandy,
commanding an anti-aircraft battery in the Wehrmacht. "I put 'em up, he
shot 'em down," commented Perry to a local news reporter. "We're very
similar even though we're enemies," continued Perry. "He had a stroke
on the right side, I had a stroke on the left side. Now we talk about our days
in the army. Every time he gets a little blue we sing a German hymn."
"The newspapers were
always reporting air attacks on small towns," said Bartsch, explaining why
he volunteered for anti-aircraft. "It was only my duty to serve in the
Herbert Perry lost a lot of
friends among the air crews he sent up into the sky, heading for Germany, many
of them never to return, but he never let himself become bitter and he has
always maintained a deep respect for the German people and their culture and
intellect. "I even said it back during the war. The German people were
smart and if the Americans hadn't come to England Hitler would have conquered
them." The two families are now friends and the old vets will be staying
in touch after Bartsch returns to Stuttgart.
Better Late Than Never
Crawford J. Ferguson of Charlotte, North
Carolina is 72 years old. Half a century ago Crawford
T. Ferguson was part of a B-17 crew that flew 35 missions over Germany in
1944, raids which slaughtered untold hundreds of thousands of people. For fifty
years it has haunted his sleep. "I keep seeing the plumes of fire down
below as the cities fall apart, and at the same time it's like I'm down in the
city, burning, running through the flames looking for a child or a wife or a
told a reporter. "I have known for years that there was something I had to
do before I die."
What Ferguson had to do was apologize, and this
year he did so. He wrote out a total of 13 letters, about 100 words each, and
addressed them to the city hall in every German town his plane had ever bombed:
Cologne, Frankfurt, Kassel,
and others not revealed in the news article. In each letter he put a simple,
heartfelt apology for what he had done in 1944. "Our target was strategic,
but innocent lives were lost, citizens maimed and civilian property destroyed.
I beg forgiveness for the agony I helped inflict upon you..."
The first few letters got
some publicity in Germany;
the mayor of Kassel sent Ferguson a thank-you note and the local
newspaper printed the apology. A weekly TV news program called
"Hessenschau" picked up the story and ran a feature on it. Ferguson also received a letter from the Munich city council, requesting permission to
make his letter public, which he granted. The mayor of Munich, Christian Ude, wrote a personal
letter of thanks.
Then something odd happened.
About half of Ferguson's
letters got through, but six of them appear to have been intercepted and
returned by the German Federal postal authorities without explanation, possibly
because they were deemed to contain "Nazi propaganda". Ferguson says with wry
humor, "I wrote to our beloved President Bill Clinton.
I sent the letters to him and I told him they had been returned. I invited him
to read them and if he thought they merited being forwarded I was going to rely
on him to take care of the situation. I've still not heard back from him."
“He Is One Of Us Now”
I read this in a British
newspaper over ten years ago and I cannot remember all the details; I will
quote from memory as best I can.
In a small village in the Norfolk fen country is a
war memorial cemetery for the local dead in both wars. In one corner stands a
small white obelisk bearing a Luftwaffe eagle and Swastika. In the early 1980s
some of the "anti-fascist" scum came up from London to squawk and deface and attempt to
destroy the headstone. The police and a number of local men came to the cemetery
and "saw them off", apparently none too gently. The
"antifas" scurried back to London screaming about police brutality
and right-wing vigilantes. In the course of reporting this, the press also
retold how the stone came to be there.
In 1944 and 1945 a lot of
British and American air groups were operating out of fairly small airfields
all across East Anglia. One such was this place in Norfolk. One day there was a
massive daylight raid against what was left of Hamburg, using planes from all
over these various fields. They dropped their load of death and were headed
home when they ran into a number of German fighters.
"We broke up and
flew our separate ways back to base, but there was this one German who stuck
with us and wouldn't give up," recalled an American pilot. "He shot
down at least two planes in our group and probably some more when the dogfight
first began, but we just couldn't shake him. Our radio operator spoke some
German and he could hear this guy's flight commander ordering him to come back,
he would run out of fuel if he didn't, but the German pilot told him something
like, 'You saw what they did today. They left nothing. I have nothing to go
back to.' Evidently we'd bombed this guy's house, probably killed his family.
“We dodged into a cloud
formation and for a while we thought we'd lost him, but over the coast of
Holland we had to drop down and get our bearings, and there he was, still on
our tail, still shooting at us, shredding us up pretty bad and wounding two of
our crew. Our gunners shot back but could never hit him. Damn if the SOB didn't
chase us all the way back to England! Our flak opened up on him as we came over
the English coast, but they missed. By the time we got back to our field he had
two British Spitfires on his tail, but they couldn't seem to tag him either.
The guy seemed bulletproof. I got her down and we all jumped out of the aircraft
and ran like hell, dragging our wounded with us, and he crashed his Messerschmitt
right into our B-17. He finally got us, even though it was at the cost of his
own life. His plane didn't catch fire because his fuel tanks were bone dry; he
must have been flying on fumes. When they pulled him out of the wreckage dead,
it was this blond kid, couldn't have been more than 19 or 20. He didn't have
any papers on him, and we never learned his name."
The incident had been
witnessed by the local villagers, who were so impressed by the boy's courage
that the vicar offered him a burial plot in the church's war cemetery, where he
lies to this day, unknown.
All of the above is quoted
from memory, but one thing I do remember with absolute accuracy, because I
wrote them down, and that is the words on that young hero's grave in an enemy
land. They were composed by an RAF colonel who also witnessed his death:
"Call them misguided,
call them even wicked if you must; but no nation or cause ever brought
forth defenders of greater courage and worth. They fought like the
Northland gods of their ancient and warlike race, and few indeed are those among us
who can say that ever we saw their backs".
When the British media asked
the local people why they defended the grave of a Nazi, one of them
answered, "We don't care what he was. We just know that he was a brave lad
who one morning flew all the way from Germany to our village to die here,
because he thought it was right that he do so. He is one of us now, and when
those yobs came up here from London and insulted his memory they
insulted us and all our own dead as well. They weren't even alive during the
war, they don't know what it was like back then. Why don't they just
bloody well belt up?"
These are the true words of
the men who were there, who fought the Jews' war for them and who
are far more entitled to speak of that time and those other men than any
Deborah Lipstadt or Ken McVay or howling, slobbering Rich Graves. I
have met many men down through the years who were veterans of that war, and I
never pass up a chance to see if I can get them to speak of their
experiences. While I have to concede that there is a great deal of hatred remaining
among those who fought against the Japanese, I have never met a single genuine
combat veteran of any Allied Army, American, Canadian, British or South
African, who fought against the Germans and who did not speak with respect and
admiration of their courage, their skill and devotion as soldiers, and
their human qualities of fortitude, humor and compassion in victory and in
defeat. If there are those who can't handle this view of Nazis, then I
recommend you start with some of the accounts left by Allied veterans of
the first war. (Robert Graves' Goodbye To All That springs to mind, but
there are many other good examples.)
As for these hate-filled
reptiles at the Simon Wiesenthal Center and the ADL and the AFA and
Nizkor, I can only quote again the little old English lady: "Why don't
they just bloody well belt up?"
-Harold A. Covington
"This destiny does not
tire, nor can it be broken, and its mantle of strength descends upon
those in its service." - Francis Parker Yockey, IMPERIUM