View From a Height
Commentary from the Mile High City
Monday, April 07, 2003
A couple of more Up Front quotes, warnings about our prisoners and even some of the civilians we're liberating. The mission is noble, but remember that people are people...

The Germans prefer to surrender to Americans rather than to some Europeans, because they know they will be treated fairly. Being Germans they take advantage of this sometimes. I watched a crippled FFI man working the hell out of a detail of German prisoners at the docks of Marseilles. He was not abusing theml he was simply making certain their hands got calloused. He had been crippled by the Germans and they had wrecked the docks, so his heart was in his work. Then an American sergeant, who had the air of a man freshly arrived in Europe, strolled past and stared at the prisoners. Immediately they began groaning and limping and looking sick, weary, and picked-on. The sergeant stopped the work and gave each man a cigarette. The Frenchman stood and watched him do it and then limped away disgustedly. The American turned his back for a moment, and the entire detail of krauts grinned at each other.


Most people in Italy and Sicily gave us a rousing welcome in all their towns and cities, but nowhere was there such excitement as in Rome. We got awful cynical about it, because the enthusiasm seemed to stop, and the complaints seemed to start, 24 hours after everybody was kissing everybody else.

Look, as I said people are people, and I'm not being racist, since these are stories about Europeans. But there's euphoria, and then there's waiting in line for the military governor of your district to get around to issuing you a pass to go see family in another district, or get you water for a hot shower, or serve meals to replace the crops the tanks ran over on the way to liberate you. I think the military is probably better-equipped than just about any other organization to get this stuff done on a temporary basis, and yes, we train for this, too. Just remember that life has to go on, and we've promised them that it'll go on better than before.

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