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Christmas is Sharing

Christmas is Sharing

When wars are fought, time means nothing.  You have morning and then its getting dark.After we have gotten some chow at the fresh air kitchen, I started to notice it was getting colder.  Sergeant James informed us it was time we got back to our company headquarters at Eupen.  We’d have to cross the Malmedy Mountains.  For a time the Jerry paratroopers held the area.  We were told the area was retaken, but you always get the so-called stragglers.


We got our gear together and took off.  Our vehicle was a old German wood-burner, with white star painted on it.  All you needed was water and wood and it would run like a top.  The road and pine forest were covered with a crisp snow that squeaked when you walked.  You went up a grade then it flattened out, then another grade and flat again.


One guy drove the truck slowly, while the rest of us walked.  It seemed we’d never reach the other side.  About Half way up, we came to a flat part and there in the center of the road was a lone Jerry, standing with his hands on his head.  He was a paratrooper, by his garb, and a cold one at that.  All he was wearing was a shirt and trousers—camouflaged.  We walked up to him.  He said; “Kamerad, ich bein Deutscher.”  I replied; “Ich bein Amerikaner.”“  It gut,” he replied.  We frisked him—he was clean.   No weapon, nothing in his pockets, just an ordinary guy out for a walk in shirt and trousers.  He didn’t speak English.  I asked him, “If he was alone.”  He said, “Ja, Ja.”  We were worried about the rest of his outfit.  You get the feeling a thousand Jerries are watching you.  One of the guys with us walked over to him and straight armed him in the face I pushed him out of the way and said, “Maybe you’d like pushing all his friends watching us from the woods.  Wise up, you damned fool.”  I turned to the Jerry and said, “All is good.”  He looked worriedly at the jerk and said, “It is cold.”


I took a blanket from the truck.  With my trench knife, I slit a hole in the middle of it and told him to put it over his head.  It makes a good poncho.  A piece of rope for a belt and he grinned from ear to ear.  Much to our relief no one else showed up.  I pointed to the road and told him to march.  We finally started down the other side and arrived in Eupen by 2 o’clock in the afternoon.  The place looked deserted, it was too cold to be out.


Our headquarters were in the old Gestapo building.  It was a fenced-in area and was now set up as a huge kitchen, garbage cans and chimneys.  We walked into the kitchen area—no one in sight.  Sergeant James said, “Where is everyone.”  He disappeared into a building.  We all stood there, a door opened across the yard.  Chief came running out.  He was one of two Cherokee Indians in our outfit.   “Where in the hell did you guys come from, we thought you were all dead.  “Not yet, Chief,” I said. He was elated, shaking everyones’ hands.  He came up to me and said, “Hi, Yankee,” and gave me a hug.

“Hey, I got something for you,” he remarked.  He turned around, reached into a big square pan and pulled out the biggest turkey drum stick I had ever seen.  He said, “Here you go, Yankee, and a Merry Christmas to you.”  I replied “Christmas?”  He said, “Yeah, today’s Christmas—December 25.”  None of us had thought up until then of time.  Somehow it was lost in the past ten days.
The Jerry was standing next to me – his eyes bugged out looking at the leg.  I took it in two hands and took a big bite.  I looked at him, handed the leg to him and said, “Hey, Hansi, essen und froelich Weilhnachten.”  Hesitantly, he took it from me.  Before he took a bite he said, “Oh, ja, froelich Weilhnachten.”  The two of us demolished it – real quick.To think – there still was a Christmas.
Source: Bulge Bugle November 1999

By Jerry C. HRBEK

428th Military Police

Escort Guard

Attached 99th Infantry Division


Battle of the Bulge,