It was not to be, and this is the story of why. My first introduction to the devastation of war came on my first night in
The next morning we were loaded onto a train of boxcars to be delivered to a town in
My first assignment was to head a transportation company that administered motor pools for troops in the Mannheim-Heidelberg area.
My next assignment was to supervise two prisons of captured German soldiers. One was in a town on the Ammersee, and one was located in Ettal, near
The first was the result of the decision by Occupation Headquarters to use Polish displaced persons to guard the German prisoners. For these Polish officers and ex-soldiers had become slaves of the Nazis after their capture and forced to labor in factories and concentration camps. We dressed them in blue-dyed GI clothes and sent them out to guard the prisoners on work details. The result was mayhem on occasion, for the hatred of the Poles for the Germans was extreme. Often the work detail would return minus two or three prisoners. The story the Poles told were that these prisoners had to be shot for they tried to flee. It happened too often for me to completely believe these tales, especially as I observed the glee and laughter of those who did the shooting.
The second example of devastation in beautiful
I believe it was that very moment that I decided I could not possibly devote my life to the study of any form of engineering.
I knew I had to add whatever abilities I had to the alleviation of the pain and suffering that I was observing at the tender age of eighteen. There just had to be something that could counter the despair and hopelessness that I saw everywhere.
So when I returned to college after the war, I forsook the scholarship; and with the help of the GI Bill that paid for tuition, I enrolled for a degree in Psychology. This too, however, proved to be a dead end, though that is another story.
Put another way: love is far more powerful than the devastation of hatred.
Copyright 2007 Frank West