POW wrote:I have a photo says: Poles in Germany Army taken in South France. As Allied troops [..] ashore from landing craft, first prisoners captured by American infantrymen in the invasion of Southern France are marched along the Beach on the way to internment. Most of the prisoners are Polish troops of the German Army, says caption from this signal corps photo. I like to gain more information's on this.
Private Aloysius Damski, age 21, 352nd Artillery Regiment:
I am a Pole. I was impressed into the German Army in February 1943. I was working in the office of a munitions factory in Blomberg when the manager called me in and said I could either go into the German forces or be declared "politically undesirable," which almost certainly meant a concentration camp. I was only twenty years old and I loved life, so I chose the army.
After training I was sent to Normandy, to a mixed unit of Poles, Czechs, and Russians under the command of German NCOs and officers. Most of the older men had no faith in Hitler and believed that Germany could never win the war.
My job was fire control, coordinating the fire of three batteries positioned between Arromanches and Asnelles. The batteries were equipped with old-fashioned horse-drawn artillery-ordinary field guns on hard rubber tires, not emplaced in concrete but in open field positions. Each had about four hundred shells. There was no real shortage of ammunition, but considerable shortages of minefield equipment. We used to plant scraps of metal in a field to decoy mine detectors, wire it off, and put up "Achtung Minen" signs. Most of the minefields in our area were false.
I was billeted with an old French lady who was very sympathetic and kind because I was a Pole. She used to give me extra food and things. There was very little recreation, apart
from occasionally being allowed to go into Bayeux. I sometimes
went out with French girls, but most of my spare time was spent drinking. Wine was very cheap, only twelve francs a pint, and my wages were equivalent to 350 francs every ten days.
I used to listen to the BBC on the radio. The lieutenant in charge of our section listened too, but he would always vigorously deny the claims made by the British, saying they were "rubbish," but it didn't stop him listening. One day he called me into his office and said, "I am speaking to you not as an officer, but as a man. How German do you feel now?" I replied, "Well, since we are talking like this, I will tell you the truth. I was born in Poland, I was educated in Poland, both my parents are Polish and still live in Poland. How can I feel anything but Polish?" The lieutenant said nothing, but was always a little "reserved" with me after that.
Before any German radio programs there was always a little signature tune, Heute wollen wir ein liedlein singen, Denn wir fehren gegen England ("Today we will sing a little song, because we are marching on England"). It caused a great laugh among the men, to such an extent that the had a joke about "walking on the water with wooden clogs."1
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