By Richard Gappmayer, Jennifer’s father
In previous posting I have discussed experiences with the German WWII POWs. Now the war is over and it is time for them to go home. My father, my sister Beatrice, and I had developed a rapport with these men and were sad to see them leave. They were all very nice, polite men who were victims of this war just like many others. My experience with them made me realize that good people are forced into bad situations not of their choosing. Many of them gave us their home addresses and encouraged us to maintain contact. We did the same.
Some of them would be returning to West Germany, occupied by the three allies, Britain, France, and the United States. Others would be going to East Germany occupied by the Russians. The borders were established by how far the competing armies moved into Germany. This point was politically determined. These men had all heard of the serious conditions that existed in their homeland as to food shortages, destroyed infrastructure, and housing. The conditions were worse in East Germany with tales of men being enslaved by Russians in work camps. The men going to East Germany were reluctant to leave but they had no choice. They were all concerned about their families and what was happening to them. We too were concerned about what they would find upon reaching Germany but could only wish them well. My association with these men is an experience that changed my life and one that I will never forget.