Len Goodgal, of Emerson, N.J., was one of only four paratroopers who were able to jump after the plane carrying him was hit in the early hours of D-Day. He landed in the English Channel near the base of a cliff, and later that morning joined the Rangers who scaled the cliff for the assault on Pointe du Hoc.
May 16, 1994, Hackensack, N.J.
©2014, Aaron Elson
The first Germans I saw were out in Breckenridge, Kentucky. We were on maneuvers, and they had prisoners of war there. We were out in a field sleeping in pup tents and these guys were in barracks. That didnít sit well with us. They had Italian prisoners out there, too. I guess they were from North Africa.
We were being prepped as superguys. Guys who could beat anybody. You can do anything. They were psyching guys up. A lot of kids thought they could; theyíd go out and get into fights, MPs would pick them up, and theyíd let them get away with it.
At Fort Benning, the tankers had boots, and paratroopers wear boots, and they developed a rivalry. In the mind of an 18, 19, 20-year-old kid, this is big, important stuff, those guys canít wear our boots!
I was always smart enough to know that when a guyís bigger than you, you donít mess with him, I didnít care whether he was in the Marines or the artillery, infantry, or whether he was in a medical battalion or whatever. If a guy was bigger than you he was stronger than you. When you get to thinking that you could overcome all that, and you take on anybody, youíre in trouble with yourself. We had kids who tried it. Guys would come back all beat up, "Oh, what a great time I had!"
What good is that? I learned to avoid that. Fortunately, I avoided it mostly because big guys could beat little guys, all things being equal. You usually found two guys the same size going at it. We had a couple of buck sergeants that were pretty tough. They used to invite guys out in back of the barracks once in a while. I saw one of them invite a guy out in back of the barracks and the guy walked back in front, he left the sergeant laying back there. He got the wrong guy. But, you know, these guys who came into the service were civilians, and they were old Army guys, they could beat anybody. Sometimes you pay the price for that.
To a lot of soldiers, being in the service and fighting a war was a walk in the sun. Everybody in their life needs a walk in the sun, something nice to happen to them, to carry them through life. Everybody does. Whether itís something your mother did for you, your father did for you, somebody did for you, some woman you love, something in your life made you feel good about yourself. Everybody should. Thatís whatís wrong with a lot of these kids on the street that want recognition. Theyíre not having a walk in the sun. Theyíre having a walk in the night. Itís a nightmare. And it shouldnít be. Everyone, no matter who he is, whatever he looks like, what color or religion, should have a walk in the sun, and thatís a wonderful thing. Itís one of the reasons why when you have a marriage they have a big wedding. If itís a poor family, to have a big wedding, that might be the only beautiful day that woman will have in her life. Thatís a walk in the sun too, isnít it? And they can always look back at those pictures and look how beautiful they are.
For a lot of these fellows that came out of the South or the Midwest or even the cities, poor homes, they went into the service and they had clothes and food, they felt good about themselves. Thatís why they joined up. Itís like the parachute infantry, or the tanks, or the Marines. They wanted to feel good about themselves. They wanted their walk in the sun, they didnít maybe realize it, we didnít realize it, but it was a walk in the sun. It was our great day.
I came from an old Jewish family. I had a sister and two brothers. My sister was married. My father wasnít rich; he was a tailor. We all tried to be somebody. My brother was going to college. One brother was going to the University of Maryland. My other brother was a Naval Air Corps pilot. The other one was in the Army, too. I donít know whether he was in an engineering battalion or the infantry. In fact I met him overseas in Berchtesgaden when the war was over. He came to visit me just before I went home. He went home, he got married when he got home. He just retired as a professor of microbiology at the University of Pennsylvania. When we were kids he used to hitchhike 32 miles to school and back, to save the carfare. He became the head of the microbiology department at the University of Pennsylvania Medical School.
Everybody should have an opportunity to make it. If somehow you could just bring it to everybody, a walk in the sun for everybody. Thatís what I believe in. It doesnít have to be material wealth. It just has to be that image, that you are something and somebody and you feel good about yourself, you can always refer to it.
I volunteered for the paratroops. When I went into the service, kids were volunteering for the Navy and they were volunteering for the Marines. I was looking for something that would make me feel good about myself, and the airborne sounded good. Iíll be better than the next guy, Iíll do something more daring. It sounded interesting.
Actually, youíre an infantry soldier. You didnít think of yourself as one in those days. You were a paratrooper. But youíre an infantry soldier. Itís just a way of getting there. If they shot you out of a cannon and put you there youíd have done that, too. Itís just a way of getting there. Itís all transportation.
Our training was tough, because they were trying to weed out people, and they wanted you to have endurance and be able to take abuse. They had a lot of ideas about what really constituted a brave guy or a solid guy. Itís all an individual thing. Some of the biggest guys do some of the bravest things and some of the littlest guys do some of the bravest things. It really fell upon the individual. Their estimates of who was gonna be brave and who wasnít, if somebody got a lot of blisters and fell out of a march, theyíd kick him out of the outfit because he didnít want to kill his feet with the blisters. But at the same time he makes a more sensible guy than a guy that keeps marching and kills his feet. Thatís the way it goes.
I remember guys saying, "Who the hell needs this? Kick me outta here. Kick me the hell out." Some guys just havenít got it. Most of them were psyched up for it.
The first time I jumped was easy. Of course youíd been prepared for it. We made mockup jumps. Some of the mockup jumps were harder to make than the regular jumps. You fell down, youíre 25 feet from the ground. Thatís a little harder to do than looking out of a plane, thereís no ground, thereís no feeling of height, and out you go. Once you do, and you get the feel of it, when you come down and land itís a grand feeling. You feel like youíve conquered the world. Youíve really got the world by the balls, thatís the way you feel. But the truth of the matter is that itís just an elation. Youíre so elated. I saw very few guys get hurt. Some guys did. I never saw a chute fail.
I heard a story about a guy in Normandy who had his static harness cut by a piece of shrapnel, and the chute never opened and they found him on the ground like that. I donít know if itís true. But itís a story that I heard. When you hear something secondhand, you donít know if itís true or not, because some of them have vivid, vivid imaginations. As the years go by, you will tell yourself things about yourself, and you begin to believe them.
In Normandy the casualties ran heavy for a week. Once we got stabilized, we were in pretty good shape. In Holland, they were running heavy all the time. Actually the first day in Holland was our easiest day almost, because they didnít defend the jump field that we were in, we just took it over. There was nobody there. We just jumped down and took it over, and we set our security for the division. They blew the bridge over the Wilhelmina Canal. We went over on ropes at night. Hand over hand on ropes. Thatís the way the whole battalion went over and they took Eindhoven the next day. It rained that night. God damned drizzly. Real bitter at night.
* * *
On D-Day I got wet. They hit my plane going over; we went over the coast. I remember going over, I was looking out. I could see the sea. I could see the coast from where I was in the plane. I was looking out the door. The door was open. When we went over the coast the door was open. It was a beautiful night. Twelve oíclock, 12:30, something like that. We went over the coast, all of a sudden, Christ, there was anti-aircraft fire, and fire, we could see it on the ground, in the air, in the sky. And the plane got hit in the tail. At least weíre ready to jump. The plane got hit in the tail and went into a dive. I just stood there hanging onto my static line thinking I was gonna get killed. I didnít really think of anything but hanging in there. And it pulled out of the dive. When he pulled out it went up a little bit, and the lights Ė when it went down it turned the lights red instead of green, or yellow. Then they turned it back to yellow. I went around and got back in the door. "Everybody get ready to go!" Boom! All of a sudden we left.
We got hit again, in the right side. I didnít know where. The fellow that was No. 2, Nils Christensen, told me that the right wing was on fire. He could see out there better than I could, that the right engine was on fire. We must have gotten hit in the right engine, and it was tilted that way. We were coming out the other way, so I just about got out of the plane. I was the last guy out. I was the fourth man, and the last guy out.
I had a lot of equipment on.
The plane was going down. I knew it was going down. I didnít know where it was. I knew the plane was hit and it was sinking, not too rapidly either. [Only four guys got out of the plane.] Two of them landed on top of the cliff, and two of us landed in the water. Me and another guy landed in the water, and two landed on the cliffs. One of them was Nils Christensen who was captured. Another one was Lieutenant Johnson, who got hurt, and got back to the outfit somehow or other and was evacuated. But Nils Christensen spent ten months in a prisoner of war camp.
I hit the water. I didnít know whether I was going to drown or what. I landed right on my back almost. I took my chute and snapped it off, got out of my stuff and got my rifle, which I had strapped across me. My equipment was underneath the chute when I got up.
I started to swim, but when I stood up I was only in about a foot of water. The other guy was calling me. In fact, he was saying, "Is that you, Sam?"
I said, "Yeah!" My middle name is Samuel, all the guys called me Sam.
He said, "Where are we at?"
I said, "I wish I knew. I hope this is the White Cliffs of Dover," because I saw those goddamn cliffs. How are we going to get up these sonofabitches? So we went under the cliffs looking for where the hell we were. We didnít have any maps, nobody told us about those cliffs or anything else.
So we worked our way along the shore. We couldnít find a way up. We tried to get up one place, it looked like we might be able to get up, but we couldnít. We got down a little further, and they were bombing; the bombers were dropping 2,000 pound bombs all night long. And the Navy was shelling the cliffs. We actually put our gas masks on, and the canisters didnít work, we couldnít breathe. Because I smelled the powder; I thought it was lewisite gas, which smells sweet. I figured maybe weíre being gassed with that powder burning when it hit the cliffs. What the hellís going on? And we didnít know. We threw the gas masks away because they didnít work.
Raymond Crouch is the guy who was with me, Raymond L. Crouch from Richmond, Virginia. He was a sweetheart of a guy.
In the morning, early, we see these boats coming along the cliffs. I said, "Hey, maybe theyíll come in and get us."
Well, as we walk along, all of a sudden theyíre coming in and assaulting these cliffs, firing the toggle ropes up and all that. These guys are running and jumping and going like crazy, and on top of the cliffs theyíre cutting the ropes, firing down, and throwing grenades over the side. Weíre down there and the colonelís motioning for us to come over. Colonel Rudder has died since then. He was a nice guy. No Ranger ever got the Congressional Medal of Honor, but he deserved it. He was recommended for it.
I didnít have a high regard for the guy until that happened. Then I realized what they had done.
The guns were not in place there. Guys tell me they were back in the woods, and that they put grenades in there to burn them out. But I recall seeing two guns along the road, two big long guns. They didnít look burned out to me. I saw two of them. Maybe they were. They were camouflaged. I thought thatís what they were gonna use up there in those emplacements, the gun emplacements, but at the time we didnít know. We really had no idea what it was. I didnít know what I was going for. I didnít know I was doing up there after I got up there.
The next day Ė the first day I saw a lot of ships out there, but the second day it was a sea of ships. You couldnít see water anymore. Just a sea of ships like foam churning on the water. All you could see was the battleship Texas, which was our artillery. A couple of little destroyers. And then there was a sea of ships, all white. You could not see the water past where the ships started. It was like that for a couple of days. So you know if they had those guns up there, the damage they could do. You couldnít see Utah Beach, it was too far. You couldnít see Omaha Beach to the right, itís too far. All I saw was cliffs. What a bitch. Those guys really were heroes themselves because they knew what they were going for. I was just incidental. They could have been giving out candy bars up there, what the hell did I know was up there.
They threw everything over the goddamn cliffs. They didnít start really getting at us until we started getting up there. As we came up they became aware, but if that thing had been heavily defended, nobody could get up there. And the other thing was, once we got up there, everybody had a B.A.R., a machine gun or something. I picked up a tommy gun. Who the hell wants a rifle? Youíre firing away at everything you can see. Some of these guys had to attack pillboxes to get them out.
We were up behind a pillbox. The colonel was with us. We were getting fired on. They needed artillery support, and they wanted the Navy to fire over that point. They wanted somebody to go back and get the flag that was hanging over the cliff, but whoís gonna go? I said, "Okay, Iíll go." So I went to get the flag, which was hanging over the cliff. I got the flag. I got fired at going out to get it and coming back. The colonel commended me highly for going and doing it.
The ships could see the flag and use it as an artillery point, and know where we were, and fire beyond it. We needed it.
The ships were our artillery. We had a Naval observer with us who came up with a radio. We used the radio to tell them where to fire.
The casualties were so heavy, all we could do was just sit in there and hold on till they broke through to us.
Guys got heads blown off. Broke a leg or arm falling off the cliff. We had prisoners underneath the cliff that they sent back by boat; they brought in a boat, I donít know whether the Navy sent it or it was a boat they brought in, to take them back. We didnít want to keep them there, the German prisoners. For three days we were just getting prisoners. In back of us. Theyíd pop up, you didnít know where they came from.
Theyíd usually surrender. They knew how to surrender. Theyíd unbutton their overcoats and throw their helmets and rifles away. I never caught a German soldier with his helmet on unless it was right on a foxhole or something had happened. Otherwise they knew how to surrender. Theyíd take their helmets off, unbutton their overcoat and throw their rifle away. Theyíd say "Kamerad, Kamerad."
Some of them were Germans, but there were also Polish. There was a Polish battalion of workers that were there to do that work. They were helping to build the fortifications. But they had German uniforms, green uniforms, Wehrmacht.
They didnít seem that young to me. Most of the soldiers that I saw looked like battle-hardened guys, or had been around a while. Or they were like engineersí workers, they could have been any age. They werenít that old.
I got wounded on the 13th of June at Carentan. We went back to my outfit after the fifth day, on the 11th, so I was there from the 6th to the 11th. I went back to my outfit the 11th, that night. And the 13th we made an attack on the other side of Carentan, into a German counterattack. They wanted to take the town and we held them off. That was a brutal battle called Bloody Gully. Our company, I Company, called it Bloody Gully. We lost a lot of men in there. Jim Schueler was talking about that, from California. He died a few years ago. And he said that he thought it was the most brutal battle he had ever been in. We lost a lot of men. In fact I shot a first sergeant up there, from H Company. I think it was G or H Company, a Sergeant Holmes, first sergeant. They were out of position. We were firing all through that place. The company commander sent me up to get a squad. Heíd sent a machine gun squad for flanking fire up there. We hadnít heard from them. He said, "Where the hell did they go? Go up and see where those guys are. What the hell is happening to them?" We wanted some flanking fire. Weíre getting it coming this way and we had no flanking fire. So I went up and went across, Jesus Christ, these guys are popping up and down in a ditch, in the hedgerow. I said, "Raus, Schnell! Come out of there." No answer. I was gonna take off, but I canít take off, theyíll shoot me in the back. So I jumped in the ditch firing my rifle; actually, I had a tommy gun. Jesus Christ, [our] guys were digging all the way in the ditch there with their hands and all trying to dig a foxhole. I said, "What the hellís going on here?"
"Watch it! Watch it! Thereís a sniper up there."
I said, "Where?"
He said, "Up in the trees."
I said, "Did anybody get hurt?"
"Ohhhhh," he says. Heís holding his back.
I thought, "Shit, I killed this poor bastard."
I pulled up his shirt. Did you ever burn yourself on a pot? Thatís just how it kind of grazed him. I couldnít believe it. Iíd just grazed him, and I saw that. Was I lucky! They were in front of our position, we didnít know it. We didnít realize it was G or H Companyís headquarters. They were out of position. I donít know how they got over there that far but they did. But it was in the morning, we started early in the morning. It was dark, so they might have gone this way and that way, and we were firing I guess, I can imagine those guys were getting it from us and them and everybody else and they were firing back at us. They didnít know where they were. We didnít know who they were. I didnít know. I jumped in there, and when I saw who it was I almost died because I figured Iíd killed one or two of them. And the only guy I got was him. It just grazed him on the back. He pulled his shirt up and I saw that, and ohhh, almost tears came out of my eyes I was so happy.
I said, "Youíre okay, Sergeant, it just grazed you."
Then I said, "Anything else?" I looked all around.
I said, "Youíre lucky. Youíve got a million dollar wound."
Then I took off. They came and got the guys over about 150 yards on our right, and they moved up to position. They couldnít get up any further, they were getting fired on.
I told them, "I donít give a god damn what you guys do, donít fire in that direction because itís H Companyís headquarters, or G Companyís."
They said, "Christ, theyíve been firing at us."
Then they gave us a little flanking fire, and we stopped the counterattack. Once you stop that German counterattack it was all over. They werenít gonna take Carentan back and thatís all there was to it, and they knew it, and that was the turning point. As I see it, it could have been a turning point in the campaign, Carentan was the linchpin between the two beaches. They werenít gonna take that. We were pushing out from there, and meanwhile the 4th Division was moving stuff in and they were bringing troops in. They were coming in pretty heavy. So by that time it was all over. And then we had air superiority. They just had a couple of planes, at night youíd hear them come over. And their engines were never synchronized, you know, RrRrrrRr, they were propeller engines, just for not being synchronized.
I was wounded by a piece of shrapnel. It hit me in the knee. An 88 shell hit a tree, a treeburst, and I got a piece of shrapnel.
Being wounded is not what you think it is. Itís frightening when you first know youíre hit. Then you realize youíre not gonna die, itís okay. But when you first get hit, itís really frightening, to see the blood squirting. You donít really hurt, youíre just frightened. Then all of a sudden you realize youíre not gonna die, and youíre okay. Just another incident.
I crawled back with a bunch of guys, about 20 of us. In fact, a captain at the time said, "All you guys that are wounded, go back to the aid station, get fixed up." Because we didnít have any medics left up there. We had one guy up there. So we went back to the aid station, about 20 of us, and some of them stayed. I couldnít. I had this shrapnel in my knee and they had to take it out. So I went back to England and they took it out. No big deal
I came out of the hospital and went back to my outfit. I went back to the camp. They werenít back from France yet. Most of the fighting was over. They came back to England, and they began to prepare for whatever they were gonna do next. They had a half a dozen different things they were going to do when they decided to go to Holland. They had dozens of jumps planned, different things that we could have done. But hey, they picked the opportune thing at the time. Battles change. Lines change and you have to have plans for any kind of contingency. As I understand it they had numerous ideas for jumping the guys. That one took preference.
In Holland, they didnít recognize that the Germans were up there like that. They could have gotten enough antitank stuff up there to knock out some of that armor, because itís tough as hell for infantry to fight armor in open spaces, on flat land. So if they could have had some more antitank guns up there it might have been an ideal situation because they engaged a number of armored divisions, panzer divisions. If they could have engaged them and disrupted them enough they could have put them out of commission. You canít replace an armored division that fast. Youíve got to train a guy to run a tank and maneuver it and everything else. Once you knock them out itís different than knocking out a soldier, you get another guy to stand in his place. Heís just carrying a rifle or a weapon.
I was a Pfc. I was a rifleman. But you did everything. I worked out with a mortar mortar squad. I had machine guns at times, I had rifles at times, and I had a bazooka one time. You were prepared for any kind of weapon and at some time or other if youíre in combat long enough you use almost all of them. But mostly you had a rifle and that was it. If I could get hold of a B.A.R. I loved it, but you had to carry a lot of ammunition for those things. They were heavy. They weighed 21 pounds apiece or something like that. A lot of guys didnít like hauling them around.
In addition to Normandy and Holland, I fought in Bastogne. But on the line. I went on patrol with three guys, I remember, Steele and Dicky Shinn and an officer; Lieutenant Johnson was a new officer, and they told him to take a patrol out, so he looked for some volunteers. Nobody volunteered. So I said, "Iíll go with you." Which was, I donít know what the hell was in my mind. And then these other two guys said, "Weíll go if you go." So we went. We went across an open field. Snow on the goddamn field, we had to go across a field to a hedgerow ditch, and we went through the woods in there, and weíre observing the Germans with the tanks back there. Where they were and what they were doing. And then we had to come back in. You go on patrol like that, they were shooting the shit out of the place. We came up a ditch on the right side of the road. Cold, mud up to here. We were glad to see it, too. We crawled right through it. It was unbelievable. We all got back.
Dicky Shinn is out in California someplace, married and has a lot of kids. He was in the Korean War too. He was a Korean kid, thatís what he was, and was a boxer. Excellent boxer. He was one of the ETO champs. He was an American boxer, well-known kid. Dicky Shinn was his name. Nice guy. I saw him in California. I saw him out in Reno. He gave me a belt buckle with the 101st insignia on it. Came with his wife. That was the first time he had been in combat and he went with me and I got him back, so he felt pretty good. I donít know what happened to the [commanding officer] after that. I was wounded. I had trench feet up there and I got wounded, too. I got hit in the face. I was below the ground and raised my head. They were firing past us. One bullet went past my face and got me right [in the cheek]. But the trench feet is what got me out of there. I couldnít walk any more. We never took our shoes off, and we were in the water, mud, freezing cold. I think it started in Holland, my feet were hurting me. Iím in the ditches up in there, foxholes filled with water, we used to dig through the dikes and set up machine gun positions through the dikes. Cold as hell and the sleet would come across the dike and cut your face practically. Youíd try to keep warm. Ridiculous. It was tough up there. Hey, it was all part of the act. Be on guard duty two hours with the machine gun at night, on two hours, off, and another guy would come up. In your platoon, you would switch guys on the machine gun at night. Iíd be up one night and the next night another guy would be up.
After I returned to the outfit [from being suffering trenchfoot at Bastogne], we liberated Landsberg Prison. I didnít see the prison. I saw the prisoners. Iíve got an interesting story about that.
When we liberated Landsberg I was right outside the town; the prison is part of the town, and I was in a machine gun position with Eddie Austin. We had three of these refugees with the stripes. They were Russian I think. I donít know whether they were Jews or not, but they looked horrible. They looked nightmarish. And we were trying to feed them something. We had D-ration bars we were putting into our canteens and heating them with water, and we had some pickled eggs we used to find in the basements, and some bread that we grabbed from someplace, and a couple of things, I donít know what, weíd find stuff in cellars. These guys wanted something to eat, which we were trying to feed them, some of the cocoa. And this one guy was shaking terribly. Eddie Austin took his coat off and gave it to him. And Jesus, I almost flipped, I said, "Are you out of your mind? What are you doing? Giving away your overcoat?"
He said, "I canít not give it to him."
I said, "What do you mean you canít? Theyíll bust your balls for that."
He said, "Who needs it more, him or me?" He or I. Him or me. "Who needs it more, he or I?" is correct. He said, "Who needs it more, him or me?" Eddie Austin was a superintendent of schools in California later on, but thatís besides the point. He knew what he was saying, him or me? He knew what he was saying, "Who needs it more, him or me?"
"I donít know, Eddie," I said. "Theyíre gonna bust your balls."
Until my dying day Iíll never forgive myself for not giving my coat to one of the other guys. But they werenít shivering. This guy was really shivering. I didnít feel bad. I said, "I think youíre out of your mind, Eddie, whatís it gonna do for him? Put him in a house someplace and build a fire." We had a fire going there. We fed them. They couldnít eat the stuff, it was too rich for them. The Red Cross got ahold of these guys and took care of them. In fact, the Red Cross MPs came into most of these camps. At Dachau they got in right away. They didnít let us in. We went right past Dachau. You would see guys roaming around. We picked up a guy going through Germany, and he went all the way to Berchtesgaden with us, and the cook took care of him. Maurice. I donít know what his last name is. He spoke about five languages. Heíd been in a concentration camp for years. He was a skinny guy. By the time we got to Berchtesgaden he [had put on a lot of weight]. He had a horse and wagon, and anything he could steal he put in there. He and the cook were, I donít know how they were doing it, but they were getting enough loot to live for the rest of their lives. Maurice was helping him. And the cook used to carry a .45 pistol on him, all the time. And he was pretty good guy, just gung-ho, till he became the cook.
How he got to be our cook. Ö We had a guy named Feoli who was a cook and he shot his dick off in Holland because he fired his pistol while he was cleaning it. His .45 went off and it shot his dick off. I remember that, and oh, we laughed about it. What is it, pathos or something? I donít know what you call it. Itís funny as hell but when you think about it, in other words itís not funny. Oh, it was brutal. Weíd look at each other and laugh. "Donít give me no pistol." We used to pick up pistols, P-38s and Lugers and all different kind of weapons, Schmeissers and stuff. Most of them disappeared or we traded them along the way.
Some of the guys came back with them. Most of the guys didnít even come back with a pistol, on account they were afraid theyíd use them. Some of them just didnít want to have them around. Weapons didnít mean anything anymore. We were glad it was over. But I remember us being in Solfelden, and they had horses there and we used to go horseback riding in the afternoon or in the morning. They had guys that knew about horses taking care of them. To me it was a novelty. It was recreation.
The war was over May 8th. We were going through Germany, I was there from May till September, and hey, it was a walk in the sun being a soldier. Just imagine how we felt over there. Anything you wanted, anything you wanted to do. If you wanted to fraternize Ė and you werenít supposed to fraternize with the Germans Ė everybody had a girlfriend someplace. Everybody. I can tell you an interesting story. I read Solzhenitsynís Gulag, I donít know if youíve read it. Youíve got to read it. Itís brutal reading. And in it he talks about them returning slave laborers, women, back to Russia, and the Russians put them in concentration camps, sent them to Siberia. When I was in Berchtesgaden, we used to use them, they were working as cooks and stuff for us because, hey, the Germans donít want them anymore, they got captured, they were working in the fields at home, in the hotels, hey, so the government took care of them. Then one day they came along, they took them all, put them on trains and sent them back to Russia. Solzhenitsyn talked about them, taking those people and putting them in Siberia. And I didnít know. I thought they were going home. And they didnít really want to go home, a lot of them, because, hey, when you see Russia, what it was about, and you see what Germany was like in Bavaria, even with the work that went on. Hey, it was a better life in a lot of ways, and some of them lived with German guys.
We had thousands of troops surrender to us coming off the Russian front. They wanted us to turn around and fight the Russians. They came in with all their equipment, ready to fight. They would turn around and they were gonna fight with us; they put them in camps. We did not abuse them. They talk about starving them to death. Eisenhower did not do that. Whoever wrote that stuff is a brutal liar. We did not brutalize the Germans, although there was high unemployment among them. We did not starve or brutalize them. We werenít allowed to do that.
Landsberg Prison is where Hitler got his start, I think. They had the putsches there. Beautiful area. Berchtesgaden, and that area through there, is probably one of the most beautiful parts of the world. You have to go to see it to see, in July and August, when itís warm and sunny and the fields are growing, thereís snow on top of the mountains and it would melt and weíd come the next day and clouds would go over, thereíd be snow on the mountains. A gorgeous countryside. And they kept it nice, too. The Germans are meticulous. Clean. You canít believe that these people were Nazis, and how brutal they were. Committed all these brutal acts. When you know the people. Germany was a country of kinder, kirche, kuchen. Children, church and cooking, thatís what a womanís job was. Children he made, women and children for the Reich, screw the church, and fuck the soldiers. Hooray for Germany. Blond and blue-eyed. Hitler was a brown-eyed, black-haired sonofabitch, who the hell is he kidding? It was ridiculous. It was so ridiculous that you wonder how they put over what they did. They did it. They captivated the state, captured the times. They were in a great Depression, saw no way out, were looking to blame somebody and anybody they could put their hands on, it was their fault. Never my fault whatever happens to me, itís your fault. Youíre to blame. Not me. If I want to believe it, I can believe it. People can always believe anything. Thatís what happened in Germany. The Depression. They lost contact with the reality of what kind of people they were.