WWII German Veteran

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A few months ago I walked to the park with my grandson, which was close to his home in Stuttgart, Germany. Just after we sat down an older gentleman approached and started talking. He was 92 years old.

He spoke decent English and he wanted to talk so we listened, asked questions, and learned about him and his German perspective of WWII. He was a veteran of the German army and served in a Panzer Division (tanks). He participated in the invasion of Russia and got within 30 kilometers of Moscow before being driven back.

The German Army was defeated by cold and hunger. It was -50o degrees. We asked how the soldiers survived in that environment.

We were both surprised and shocked when he told us they ate their dead soldiers. This is cannibalism and I had to ask for clarification to be certain I heard him correctly. After verifying this experience he looked at me as though he didn’t understand my reaction and then justified it by adding, “it was -500 the bodies were safe so we ate them to survive.”

This experience provided a great opportunity for us to gain an appreciation for living history. Helping our children listen, appreciate, and learn from an older generation can help them to accept and appreciate differences without judging or condemning. After all, aren’t we all different?


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