The Netherlands / Story

The liquor is also liberated




During the fighting in the center of Groningen on 14 and 15 April 1945, the Germans defended themselves fiercely. They are entrenched everywhere and shoot from roofs, from flats and from basements. The Canadians and also the citizens notice that the Germans sometimes also take each other's lives. Fanatical German soldiers aim their weapons at others to force them to continue the fight. The blazing fires of burning homes gave the battle scenes an ominous backdrop.

Gunner Dick Field, assigned to the infantry as a radio operator, later writes of the German resistance: "I was in an armored vehicle with my machine gun ready to fire at the top windows of the houses and shops. It was teeming with German snipers. I saw curtains move, but didn't dare to fire in case they were curious civilians. No doubt snipers came out and fired at us as we passed, but we were not hit from above. The rear of our Carrier was hit many times. As we turned into a side street at the end of the road, we were relieved but happy to relax for a bit.

While waiting, I was amazed by some of the Canadian infantrymen. Across the road was a liquor store. The German machine guns were still firing down the street at anything that moved. When the fires stopped for a minute, a couple of guys rushed across the street to loot booze ("liberate" I mean). As soon as they ran, the German machine guns started firing, but these soldiers always came over quickly enough not to get hit. This game went on for half an hour. I couldn't believe someone would risk their life for a bottle of booze.

Now, I was ordered to go to a nearby barn and help the infantry search a group of 30 German prisoners. They were quite surly at first when we had their pockets emptied and everything thrown on the concrete floor. But then something funny happened. From their pockets came what seemed to us dozens of "French safes" (condoms). Every f** German must have had condoms everywhere. Soon we started fooling them. They started to laugh shyly. "What a bunch of frisky Germans," we would say, making appropriate gestures.

Some Germans who spoke English translated our comments for the rest. Soon we were all laughing, including the guards. A few of the inmates even rolled onto the ground holding onto their sides. The whole scene was like a comedy theater. By the time the job was done, I don't think anyone left that building without a smile. War has its humorous or should I say very human moments.”

Rotonde Hereplein 9711 GB, Groningen