On this June 6th, I was writing a story of a friends' landing on Normandy, and I recalled a story told me by a German soldier about the bombing of Berlin.
Since the Normandy Invasion was the beginning of the end for the Nazis, and the Bombing of Berlin was the culmination, I thought I'd tell this soldier's story at this time.
At the end of the Third Reich, the old men were defending Berlin's perimeter, and the Hitler Youth were assigned to the anti-aircraft defense of the city.
The gentleman described a particular evening's bombing raid so vividly, that I can remember feeling like I had been there with him!
"It was a clear night, and the American bombers were right on schedule. The formation seemed endless, and our massive searchlights illuminated the skies! The planes were at over 30,000 feet, and our optics were so sophisticated that I could see the pilot of the particular bomber I was sighting in on.
As I was shooting up at him, he was casually looking out his side window. This pilot nonchalantly slipped his oxygen mask to the side, and reached into his shirt pocket and removed a pack of Lucky Strike cigarettes, and a quick snap of the pack brought one cigarette to the surface, which he placed between his lips. He then flipped open his "Zippo" lighter, and lit the cigarette without moving his eyes off the scene below! This brave man seemed as relaxed as if he were sitting in his own living room. I watched him continue smoking as he dropped his bombs, and felt a common bond between warriors. He was trying to blow up my world, and I was trying to shoot him down, nothing personal, just the business of war!"
The war ended shortly after this event, and this German soldier was soon on the run. He said he hid in a snowbank by digging in deep as a Russian partrol passed. He waited until he saw an American column coming down the road, and ran out to surrender to them.
When I met this gentleman it was a long time after the war, and he had since become an American citizen.