which song I think must have sunk into my self-pitying little boys being as it described the essence of my feeling outcast and lonely, imprisoned and threatened, marooned. The other song that sank into boy would be manhood is Uhland’s 1807 German army song Ich hatte einen Kameraden where the line “As though he were part of me” takes its psychosomatic bite of a boy’s soul [Als wär's ein Stück von mir.]
Back at our place for Christmas 1944, now that the bombers had beome accurate, at the outskirts of Bremen, I made a serious sacrfice, I gifted my collection of lead soldiers to one of my grandmother’s sea-faring friends, a visiting U-Boat captain - this young armaments expert knew that U-Boats required heavy loads of lead during their diving operations; this, best to my recollection, my sole contribution to the war effort. I learned to read at age four on my mother’s Christmas gift, a magic writing tablet of the kind that elicited Freud’s A Disturbance of Memory on the Acropolis., but what I read, aside the usual children’s book and fairy tales, were the war time newspapers, which I picked up during extensive railway travels; and I listened to the radio; my near sole company was my hated governesses who, so a childhood friend my age informed me recently, was not a Nazi either. And I don't think it was sheer contrariness that made me into a childhood Nazi. Change in fealty in Spring 1945 was due to several factors. One fine morning in April the left-overs of a thoroughly beat-up batallion, the first soldiers I had seen from really close-up, and that had fought at Arnheim / Nijmegen during the Battle of the Bulge and had been marched hundreds of miles to participate in the defense of Bremen, were encamped around our pond – my girl cousin child bride Nona von Lehndorf [von Haeften], and I schlepped water 100 yards or so from our deep well to these soldiers, there already was no electriity for the pump, the pond was porofoundly brackish. Nona was not as fortunate as I, her father Heini, my mother’s favorite cousin, had been hung as the conspirator’s courier; the Wolf’s Lair moreover had been built on her parent’s property. Close calls all around. That afternoon she and I started hearing splashings in the pound, louder than that made by the carps and pikes, and then observed the soldiers picking up their assorted armaments, tossing them. There was not going to be a defense of Bremen, at least not for these fellows, while the elegant officers - I well recall the red piping on their trousers - continued with tea on our veranda and all the beautiful women and grandmothers. However, what sealed my disaffection was not only finding out what had transpired and what my parents had gone through but the reappearance of my beloved grandfather Werner von Alvensleben
who had been at the head of the list of those who were to be killed on the Night of the Long Knives but who via several flukes had escaped that fate but to spend most of the years of the 12 year Reich in four different concentration camps, and that he had been tortured. The Bremen OSS contingent whose special favorites we and our party place became and the American soldiers and their plenty all struck me as immensely attractive and nice guys as did the music they broadcast from the American Forced Network.
So it is not that surprising that later in life I would do considerable research on the efforts of the opposition, and not so surprisingly have developed a life-long allergy also to any murmur of nationalism in my soul. Poor Guenter Grass who felt so ashamed of his adolescent SS membership that he did not reveal it until late in life. Poor Freedomfries consumers and the like who have never shown shame that I have noticed in the many years in the U.S.A. Perhaps children ought not to be “nationalized” as it were? Just told that they are a species of monkey?