Siegmar's Day

     Things were easier for me at school, which I enjoyed greatly. We learned about Germany and the war and were taught that everyone in our country must be strong and supportive of our brave soldiers. I especially liked the plane spotting class. We studied charts of the different aircraft that our pilots and the enemy flew. The Americans mainly used B-17 bombers and Mustang fighters. The English equivalents were Lancasters and Spitfires. Our planes were Junkers and Messerschmitts. We were to report any Allied planes seen as soon as possible to the police. My best friend, Peter, and I had the highest grades and were awarded small binoculars to help identify them.      

     As I dressed that Friday, I was allowed to wear my new German Youth uniform of a brown shirt with black pants. My mother helped to roll my black neckerchief and fastened it under my collar with a wooden ring. Even though it was a cold morning, I took my coat off a street or two from home and carried it under my left arm as I strutted to my school down the main street of my home town of Eutingen, past the church, city hall and the bakery. I was certainly quite a sight with my turned up nose, glossy black shoes and swinging right arm. Giving a nod of my head to anyone who stared, I was thrilled to be noticed.

     The school day seemed endless, but eventually everyone was called into the gymnasium for the ceremony inducting the new recruits into the German Youth. There were only four of us that afternoon who stood at attention, took the oath of loyalty to our Führer and Fatherland and saluted our banner. Although not the tallest, I was determined that I would be the best.

     The local director of the organization was present to offer his congratulations on our initiation. He made a short speech and then had us individually walk over to accept his handshake. I was the lone recruit to goose-step across the stage. I took his smile to mean that he was impressed, but it was more probable that my performance just amused him.

     After school let out, Peter and I walked back home along the Enz river, which began in the mountains of the Black Forest, flowed through the nearby city of Pforzheim and continued past our town. We threw rocks at the pieces of ice floating by and crowed when we hit one. In high spirits, we raced each other up the ridge behind the town to our house, which was one of the plainer in the neighborhood. It was square and made from cinder blocks, covered with stucco and painted beige, but my father used to say that he built it for the ages. It was divided into two apartments, upstairs and downstairs. The rental of one apartment helped to pay for the cost of the entire house as was usually the custom at the time. Peter’s family lived downstairs. There was a good sized yard in the rear, which made it possible to plant some vegetables and keep our chicken coop.

     I heard the music as soon we entered the vestibule and knew that my sixteen year old sister, Erika, was already home, which was a blow to my good mood. I climbed the stairs, entered the door of our apartment and saw her bouncing around the kitchen  while listening to a jazz band playing on an American military radio station.

     “You look like an idiot, dancing to that jungle music.” was my greeting.

     “I don’t look as stupid as you do in your new uniform”, she answered.

     I ran over and turned off the receiver. “We’re not supposed to listen to the Americans. All they do is lie. You’ll get us into trouble.”

     “You don’t know what trouble is, you little fart. When the Amis get here, you better not be caught running around in that outfit. Although I think that Mutti will burn it before they arrive.”


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