1. Charmichan
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    Charmichan Member

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    Any WW2 history buffs out there?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Charmichan, Apr 30, 2011.

    I surfed the net and hit the libraries for this dilemma I have about a scene in my head. I was thinking of having my MC and his wife getting separated somewhere within Germany right after the invasion of Poland. I couldn't find a good material to back up my idea so here I am begging for any insight. My questions are: "How are foreigners treated in Germany at the beginning of WW2? Would it be possible for soldiers on a checkpoint to harass a wealthy looking American Aryan couple based on their hate for capitalism? or is it too far fetched?"
     
  2. Charmichan
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    Charmichan Member

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    I just realized that this should go to the "research" thread. Now, how do I delete and transfer this there, or does it matter?
     
  3. Mxxpower
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    Mxxpower Member

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    I'm not certain, but I would bet there were embargos on Germany by the time they attacked Poland. I am not sure how or why an american not attached to the embassy would be in Germany at that time and according to the linked article, even the embassy packed up in 1938.

    All of the people seemed to be going from Germany to the US, at least according to the embassy.


    http://usa.usembassy.de/garelations0139.htm

    Perhaps the Americans could be trapped in Poland or France and take up with the resistance or something? I am reasonably sure it was business as usual in those countries until the invasion.
     
  4. TheGreatNeechi
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    TheGreatNeechi Member

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    Buddy, what do you need to know?

    ;)

    EDIT

    Foreigners were treated very, very well up until the invasion of Poland. The Berlin Olympic games was viewed by Hitler as invaluable propaganda material. After 1939, however, it all depends on how foreign you are. Foreigners residing in Germany were basically treated nominally, depending on their religion. If you were Jewish, or perceived as Jewish, well... you weren't treated so well. Everybody else is pretty much left alone... except if you were gay, black, mentally handicapped, deemed an enemy of the state--not hard to do--or somehow viewed as otherwise undesirable.

    And by "nominally" I mean you weren't shot dead in the street. You were, however (especially toward the end of the war), subjected to all manner of of unwarranted search and seizure, questioned about the slightest little thing, and generally treated like a spy.

    The exception to this: Russians. If you were Russian in Germany at the onset of World War II you could be expected to be deported or imprisoned.

    It isn't very difficult to come up with a pretext for why the Nazi regime would harass an American couple. Papers. Papers... Papers... Hell, soldiers would make up reasons. They're Nazis. Use your imagination. :)

    EDIT 2:

    "Gunther, wollen diese Papiere zu sehen, geschmiedet?"
    (Gunther, do these papers look forged?)
    "Ja, sie zweifellos Franz."
    (Yes, they do Franz.)
    "Du wirst mit uns kommen. Ihre Frau kann gehen...."
    (You will come with us. Your wife may go.)
     
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  5. Charmichan
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    Charmichan Member

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    Thank you very much Mxxpower for the wonderful link!!! It's brimming with loads of related info that I need.

    TheGreatNeechi, thanks for the edits (^_ -) I was actually thinking if this scene plays out realistically without a clear motivation.

    *****
    Fear and panic filled the air as a group of Nazi soldiers approached our vehicle. Candy gripped my arm.

    "Stay calm Candy, it's going to be alright, we have our papers."

    "Halt! Papiere bitte!"

    A soldier looked sinister as he stood in front of my window. There is no way to doubt his symbol of authority as he carried a ready MP34 in his right hand. I handed him our papers while two other men wearing the same frown and searched the back of our car.

    "Treten Sie bitte raus´ aus dem Wagen!"

    "What is he saying Albert?" Candy's voice stammered. I squeezed her hand. They were cold as ice.

    "He says step out of the vehicle. We should do as he says."

    "Guten Tag Herr Offizier, wir sind nur unterwegs nach Frankreich." I squared my shoulders and tried to look friendly as I explained our destination.

    "Legen Sie Ihre Hände auf der Motorhaube!" the soldier snarled.

    "Put your hands on the hood of the car Candy."

    "Beeilen Sie sich!" The other soldier grabbed Candy by the wrist and slammed her hand on the roof of our vehicle.

    They began patting our sides, probably in search for contraband.

    "Nicht so macht mans. Rutsch mal."

    Chills ran down my spine as the third older soldier smirked a menacing grin. The other soldier nodded as if indulging a secret arrangement and blocked my sight.

    "Na, was haben wir denn hier?" The tone of his voice reeked with lust.

    "Don't touch her! Bitte berühren Sie sie nicht !" I bawled and lunged myself at the nearest soldier.

    "Halt´s Maul!"

    The last thing that registered to my mind was the rear end of a rifle approaching my face and then the world instantaneously turned red. Everything changed; somehow through a weird mist I saw some tiny pebbles right in front of my eyes and it took me eternally long moment to realize that it was the road, now a mere inches from my face.

    Something tore through this thick fog; it was my wife's voice calling hysterically my name. It made me want crawl towards her and so I tried, when another blow hit my gut. My ribs flamed as hard boots alternately rammed me down to gravel road.

    ""Steh auf Du reiches Arschloch! Ha! Ha! Ha!"

    "No! Stop it! Please! You're killing him! Stop it! Stop!"

    Candy's terrified screams rang in my ears. I prayed to wake up from this horrifying nightmare; powerless to stop the man as he mercilessly slapped my wife and who knows what other evil plans he had in his mind. I struggled to keep conscious as the soldiers enjoyed their thrashing. Each time I tried to get up, more jolts knocked me down.

    "Was zur Hölle ist hier los? "

    A loud authoritative bark startled the soldiers.

    "Leutnant Kroff. Heil Hitler!" The men clapped their heels and saluted.

    "Was ist hier geschehen?" The mountainous silhouette approached the scene.

    "Amerikaner, Leutnant. Sie haben keine Papiere."

    A cold metal barrel nudged my forehead, a warning not to open my mouth. I wanted to scream "Lies!", but the blackness called for me. I mastered all what's left of my strength and etched the faces of our assailants in my memory. Blood gushed out of my mouth as I stuttered what I fear to be my last words. "G-God help us."
     
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  6. Mxxpower
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    Mxxpower Member

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    Very good! I like it even though I have zero understanding of the German language :)
     
  7. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I speak fluent German and you did a great job with it - did you look up the language or did you speak it already? And great writing; the Nazis are effectively portrayed as douches and your story is one I'd love to read more of.
     
  8. Lothgar
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    Lothgar Contributing Member

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    Many German Americans returned to Germany in the late 1930s to enlist in the military service.

    Jewish Americans may have encountered harassment and antisemitism.
     
  9. Porcupine
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    Porcupine Contributing Member

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    To be honest, I don't think such an episode between regular Americans and regular Wehrmacht soldiers is very likely in 1939. At this point, America was still neutral and Americans could move about pretty freely in Germany. The American journalist William L. Shirer was in Germany at the time and later wrote a big book about his experience, which I have at home. I will check later to see if there is any mention of harassment of Americans, but as far as I can remember from reading it, there wasn't too much.

    Another point is that Wehrmacht soldiers were generally too disciplined (in 1939) to be quite so nasty (or foolish, if they are robbing your couple as they appear to be, in 1939 they would be court martialled for that and quite severely punished). If they are half-drunk SA (Sturmabteilung) or overenthusiastic SS (and perhaps mistakenly believe your couple to be Jewish), then maybe.

    The German text is great though, except for the line "Nicht so macht mans. Rutsch mal." As a replacement, I would suggest "So macht man's nicht! Rutsch mal rüber!"

    I am not sure if this is completely true. During the brief semi-alliance between the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany, both sides did hand over people regarded as "traitors" in the other country, i.e. the Soviet Union delivered many German communists to Germany (to be placed in concentration camps and/or killed) and Germany persumably also handed over some Russian emigrés in exchange. However, once the war against the Soviet Union began, Germany recruited very many Russians into its military and intelligence services (to varying degrees of efficiency), so simply being Russian was not automatically an indication you would be deported or imprisoned.
     
  10. Charmichan
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    Charmichan Member

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    Thanks for the encouragement Mxxpower!

    @ Mallory, I looked the phrases up online then consulted a friend about it. I'm happy it turned out well!

    @ Lothgar, thanks for the info man!

    @ Porcupine, yes! Your answer is the one that's been bothering me. I know that Nazi's are also trained as idealists and as humans they would also be respectful unless provoked. I've written about a drunken commanding officer to make it work, but now that you mentioned the half-drunk SA, that sounds even better!!!! Also, thanks for the suggestion,"So macht man's nicht! Rutsch mal rüber!", it sounds more menacing! Arigatou!
     
  11. Porcupine
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    Porcupine Contributing Member

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    Bitte!

    This is moderately off-topic, but remember also that (big) wars always get progressively inhuman. In 1939, the troops of either side (Polish, German, French, British) did not shoot to kill. The infantry mostly fired warning shots at each other. Even in the Polish campaign, the record shows that soldiers of both sides tended to deliberately miss their target if not under direct threat themselves. Some years later, by 1943 let's say, everybody was shooting to kill. Man becomes accustomed to the slaughter, is hardened by the loss of friends, family and acquaintances, and becomes much more brutal as a conflict goes on.

    That's why I'm pointing you towards the SA and SS, which were at this point largely composed of extremely nationalistic ruffians (a good portion of whom had a criminal record, and who believed in violence as a means and an end), whereas the Wehrmacht was composed of "normal" people due to general conscription. Sure, there's always the potential to get a bunch of bad eggs together and have them in a mood that would lead them to do something like what you describe in your story, but the chances would be lower than with a "half-drunk" detachment of SA, I'm sure.
     
  12. Charmichan
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    Charmichan Member

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    Vielen Dank Porcupine!

    Your comment is very insightful! I was stuck for days now, thinking about what comes next. The half drunk SA gave me the boost I needed. You are my muse! It's time for me to milk it for details, the color of their uniforms... the list goes on!

    I have one more question, what do you think are the odds of finding these guys if ever they are reported? Or would the Nazi dismiss an American business tycoon because of their anti-capitalist propaganda?
     
  13. Eurlo
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    Eurlo Banned

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    I think my (I guess you could say he is my step grandfather?) he was in a war long ago and still alive suppose to turn 80 soon....
     
  14. Porcupine
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    Porcupine Contributing Member

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    Oh, that depends on who they are reported to, what his goals and views are, and how well he and they are connected.

    So, example. Suppose they are reported to some reasonably honourable police or other officer. Suppose this man has enough influence to order their arrest and actually wants to do it. That would pretty quickly lead to their apprehension, dismissal from whatever organization they served in, and after that a criminal prosecution. How would they find them? Well, everything was pretty strictly organized back then. As long as the American has a good indication of the time and place where he was and can describe the "agressors" well enough, their unit will quickly be identified, and from there it is easy to find the commanding officers and then the people actually involved. It could take some time, of course. The time taken would depend on how "important" the whole act was deemed. In times of trying desperately to preserve a neutral USA, such an act could plausibly be deemed "very important".

    On the other hand, if they were reported to, let's say, a higher leader of the SA, who is a closet socialist (as some people in the SA were, even if the strongest of those were killed during the Night of Long Knives) and despises capitalist tycoons out of principle, all that might happen is a grudging acknowledgement that they will try to find the culprits and nothing further.

    In between those two extremes, I suppose any outcome is possible. In-between variants would include a simple disciplinary measure, a simple rebuke, transfer to punishment units, etc.

    Generally, the chance of finding them would be higher if they were reported to a "rival" organization, and much lower if they were reported to members of their "own" organization. SA and SS were very strong rivals, and SS and Wehrmacht were strong rivals as well (not quite as strong in 1939, much stronger later). The SA was seen as a big rival for the Wehrmacht (or Reichswehr, as it then was) until the Knight of Long Knives, after which the SA diminished in real power.
     
  15. Charmichan
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    Charmichan Member

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    You are spoiling me with details here Porcupine! Love love love all of it! I can't believe there so much I didn't know! Man!!!! I love this forum!!! Thank you thank you thank you! I hope you'd be interested to read my next chapter! Thank you!!! Oh and btw, I'm a big fan of the movie Die Brucken, have you seen it?
     
  16. Porcupine
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    Porcupine Contributing Member

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    Something I forgot entirely, but which just jumped at me from an article in the FT about Goodyear's current purchase of three new Zeppelins, was that German and American industry were tied up quite closely in some instances in the 1930s, and partly remained so during the actual war.

    For example, Goodyear and Zeppelin had a joint company that was operational until 1940, Ford had (and still has) a huge factory for cars and trucks near Köln (Cologne) and Opel was (and is) owned by General Motors. The German branch of IBM is another example. Companies like Opel and the Ford factory in Köln were progressively "germanized" during the late 1930s and especially of course during the war, but in general, American businessmen in Germany would not appear completely out of place in 1939. There are German newspapers available online from archives that still have Coca Cola advertisements in them in mid 1941. As a final anecdote, Fanta was invented in Germany as a war-time replacement for Coke.
     
  17. Charmichan
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    Charmichan Member

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    Amazing!!! Where do you get all this? Fanta invented as replacement for Coke!!! Goodness! Talk about trivia!!!

    You know I put my character there to close two of his Heavy Industry factories because the Nazi wants to nationalize it to make ammunitions and tanks. He didn't like the idea so he decided to close the merger. Then he gets a call from the embassy informing him of the invasion on Poland, he and his wife flees, then comes the checkpoint. What do you think?
     
  18. Porcupine
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    Porcupine Contributing Member

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    Seems very plausible, given the German desire at the time to "germanize" American companies in Germany and their branches. I'm not sure he would need the embassy to inform him of the attack on Poland... they did have radio back then, you know. ;) But he may well get a call advising him of an imminent war threat, let's say, in very late August 1939, or a call advising him to leave after the French and British declarations of war, which makes air raids on Germany much more likely (although nearly none took place until mid-1940, one year later, but nobody could know that in 1939).

    I think my biggest question here is what exactly is this checkpoint and what is it doing? Is it a border post? Is it somewhere near the front lines, to prevent civilians from straying into a battle zone? Is it close to a Luftwaffe airfield? What is its purpose?
     

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