"Lost in Deutschland" vorher

Dieses Blog begann auf Deutsch - im Archiv befinden sich eine ganze Reihe von Texten über das Engländersein in Deutschland - von 2008 bis 2011 sortiert. 2008-2009 wurden zudem Video-Berichterstattungen auf Deutsch zum Thema hier veröffentlicht.

Friday, 5 April 2013

April Taster Extract: Michael Howard, Otherwise Occupied

This month's extract comes from Michael Howard, who published Otherwise Occupied, his memoirs of being part of the British occupying force in post-war Germany, in 2010. In his fascinating and faultlessly honest account, he includes unredacted letters he wrote at the time and then comments on them from today's perspective.

At the tender age of 21, Howard was a leading part of T-Force, the unit set up to dismantle German industrial capacity which could be of use to Britain and remove it to the UK. T-Force also "removed" the odd German researcher back to the UK to pick their brains: to the victor go the spoils.

Much to his credit, however, Howard was free of all triumphalism, showing great humanity and fairness in his dealings with the defeated Germans - and befriending a family in whose house he was billeted. His letters and retrospective account also offer a fascinating glimpse into the, perhaps unexpectedly, glamorous world of British officers' clubs in north-western Germany...


Lt. M. HowardR.B., 1 Bucks, B.A.O.R.
5th April 1946

Darling Mama,
This is as much to practise my typing as to tell you anything, but there are a few odd items of news that I can deal with. Firstly, parcels to acknowledge—a packet of cigarettes from you and from Daddy, and also that box of Auntie Miriam’s wodges, in very good condition. I shall be writing to thank her in the near future.
Could you send me some black darning wool as holes are gradually consuming more and more of my socks. Otherwise there is nothing I can think of that I want.
Yesterday I went over to do a job of work in Düsseldorf. The whole business was carried out in German and it really stood up to the strain quite well. On the way back I dropped in and saw Lee Walker, who was really very nice. She is tallish, and fair, and rather good-looking in a strong sort of way. She has got the same sort of mouth as Phyllis and was quite easily recognisable. I have asked her to come to our dance which she accepted with every show of pleasure. I think she is PA to practically the king-pin of North German Coal, which is a very good job. They work in what used to be Krupp’s private house – a lovely spot. There is a squash court there and I have been offered the use of it, for which I am very grateful. She asked me to spend the weekend there, which seemed a friendly act, and although I was not able to accept, as I am to take over my new department by Monday, I might reciprocate by asking her over to Möhne one weekend in the near future.
(…)

My route yesterday took me right through the Ruhr and it is an amazing sight. Literally there is hardly a street for 50 miles in which at least 25 per cent of the houses are (not) bombed, and you can drive for miles through large towns without seeing signs of human habitation. Acres of factories, rusting away, and covered in weeds. My opinion for what it’s worth is that Germany won’t be able to wage war by herself for some 4O years.
No more news, I think.
My typing hasn’t been too bad
With all my love,
Michael

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