Startseite > Gesellschaft, Politik > War is horror. War is deadly. War is destructive. War is ugly and violent – World War II Recollections

War is horror. War is deadly. War is destructive. War is ugly and violent – World War II Recollections

Gerhard A. Fürst

Gerhard A. Fürst

Ursprünglich war die folgende Zusammenstellung sehr schwierig und schmerzhaft für mich, die ich aber dann doch machte, zum Teil auf Bitte einer meiner Töchter die eine Forschung für einen ihrer Universitätskurse zu verfassen hatte. Ich war also der auserwählte und naheliegende Interviewkandidat.

In der Erinnerung ruhten Dinge, die mich auch hinterher nochmals sehr erschütterten, und die nun wieder wachgerüttelt wurden. Man „überlebt“, vorausgesetzt Gottes Gnade und etwas Glück sind einschreitend und schützend behilflich,aber man kann all das Erlebte nicht vergessen!

Das war auch einer der Hauptgründe, weshalb ich mein Leben mit aller Energie dem Erlangen von Frieden widmete, als sogenannter Poet of Peace. Es ist aber tragisch dass sich nur relativ wenige Menschen in der Welt an solche Aufrufe halten, oder auch darum kümmern.

Friedliebende Menschen werden ignoriert und oft als Feiglinge dargestellt, verpönt und verspottet, und Kriegstreiber haben freie Hand und werden als „Helden“gefeiert, während sie nahezu ungehindert ihren brutalen Unfug und ihr Übel treiben.

Ich lasse mich aber nicht einschüchtern…und mein Appell geht unentwegt weiter, auch wenn ich so gelegentlich dem Verzagen nahe bin….wie z.B. in meinem Gedicht what values.

World War II Recollections

I was born in 1936 in Bayreuth, the regional administrative capital of Upper Franconia, a province in the northern part of Bavaria, more known perhaps for the annual Richard Wagner Opera Festivals than anything else. Now, however, Bayreuth has also a university with a solid academic reputation.

When the war ended, I was nine years old. In the interim, I had experienced the horror and trauma of a very bewildering and most tragic and convulsive time. Mine, of course, is the recollection of childhood which is, however, because of its intensity, still very vivid, to the point where at times I have nightmarish dreams.

I recall the tense times in Bayreuth, where politically motivated announcements and speeches were broadcast by means of loudspeakers all over town, and often people had their personal identification checked by the police and the military at random sidewalk checkpoints. Bayreuth came under attack by bombing air raids. I still recall the flames in the dead of night, when we were awakened by the howling and wailing sound of air raid sirens.

We relocated to a small Central Franconian town of Feuchtwangen, where my paternal grandparents lived, in the hopes of a calmer time. There was none to be had anywhere. The fathers and adult sons of most families had been drafted and inducted into the armed forces of the country, and we listened to the news from the fighting fronts via a strange contraption called a Volksempfänger (a people’s radio receiver), deliberately designed to focus attention on German news, and attempting to block out foreign media influence. Despite all the flag waving, the bands playing of military marching music, the singing of patriotic songs, and all the shouting and saluting at public events, even a small child gained the impression that not all was well. I was always left with a feeling of unease and insecurity.

In elementary school, my first grade teacher was a devoted party member and spent much time on efforts of political indoctrination rather than on real education. Our school principal was a party member, and he gave what for us children were exhaustingly long and incredibly boring (supposedly patriotic) speeches, while we had to stand at attention and information, often in the heat of the summer sun, our little arms extended to give the now infamous salute. I recall the public appeals to collect metals for recycling, to collect paper, to public appeals for warm clothing because the soldiers were cold …

We went out into the fields to collect plants and herbs form which teas and medicines could be made. I recall the warnings issued though posters plastered everywhere that „Der Feind hört mit!“ (The enemies are listening in), suggesting that you could not really trust anyone. I recall having to dodge bullets from the strafing runs of dive-bombers, by trying to hide in roadside ditches, in culverts, and behind trees, when we worked in farm fields, helping farmers to harvest their corps,
to earn a few potatoes as pay, or a small sack of grain, which we took to a mill to exchange for an even smaller sack of flour.

The local brick factory and saw mill had a contingent of Russian POWs, who worked there, and who were encamped in a set of barracks under minimal guard. One of them I befriended. He spoke a bit of German. He thought that I resembled and reminded him of his only son back in Russia. Many of the POWs were given permission to go to town to buy a few items on ration cards, the way we had to shop as well for what little was available.

One particular POW, assumed to be especially hard working, was assigned to a nearby farm, where for inexplicable reasons he killed the farmer’s son (by cutting his throat), an elementary class mate of mine. The POW ran off into the woods, but towns people caught up with him and hung him from a tree. Another class mate of mine was helping his father plow
a field to get it ready for spring cultivation. He was killed by dive bombing American planes. The team of horses was also shot and killed. A farm boy apparently was considered to be a justifiable military target.

I recall a train full of refugees, who had survived a bombing raid on the nearby city of Nuremberg being shot up and destroyed, killing all aboard. The train’s cars had been marked with Red Cross insignia, but that did apparently not matter to the attackers. I witnessed the unloading of more than 200 dead women, children and elderly men from the charred remains of the train, which had been pulled back into our small town train station. To see that many dead people being laid side by side on the station platforms left a lasting image in my mind. Things got even worse, so let me spare you the details.

That is why I find it hard to reflect on such things. The recollections stir up bad memories. I remember the many long nights we had to sit in the cold and damp basement of the house where we lived, crowded together, and sharing space with refugees from other cities. The refugee situation became so bad that our school became a refugee center. They tried to
house schools in provisional wooden barracks, but even those ultimately had to be used to make room for the influx of even more refugees from everywhere. For that reason, I was essentially left with a totally disrupted and inadequate elementary education. A neighboring lady, a retired school teacher and friend of my mother tried to help out with some lessons and a bit of irregular home schooling.

We went nearby to forests to try to find edible mushrooms, to harvest wild straw berries, blue berries, raspberries and blackberries, being buzzed and harassed all the while by big and viciously biting horseflies. We also went out to gather up dry tree branches as fire wood, and filled sacks with pine cones, to haul home in small wagons, so we could heat our apartment in the winter months. It was exhausting, tiring and tedious, but oh so necessary work, even for a young fellow
going on nine years of age, his older brother and younger sisters. Coal was rationed and not easy to come by. Such was life in (the allegedly great and glorious) Third Reich, supposedly to last a thousand years, but which collapsed into ruins and defeat within nine years.

Toward the end of the war, I along with many others were literally and figuratively reduced to beggars, wandering from village to village, from farm to farm, begging for food: a slice of bread, an egg, a tiny bit of meat … taking whatever was given, often grudgingly, more often than not coming home with nothing at all. At times, I even ran with a small gang of street urchins, and we stole food wherever we could find it and get away with it. So we swallowed our supposed middle class pride and did whatever it took to survive. So, you can perhaps see and understand, that I came to hate everything and anything connected with war. I detest all who glorify war. I abhor everything connected with war!

I am a pacifist at heart. I had seen, experienced and witnessed that war is deadly and destructive. I do not need to read about war in history books. I had seen the direct results and effects of war. I had seen the remains of the ruined city of Nuremberg, where streets were reduced to footpaths between huge mountains of rubble. My father fortunately survived and returned, but he was a sick and broken man, and very difficult to take for a child. It took him years to regain his bearing. For that reason we hardly ever talked about his personal experiences. It was not until many years, almost decades later, when I was an adult that he finally confided in me what he had lived through in order to survive. Between WWI and WWII, our family accounted for nine young relatives who did not return. Many relatives had lost their home and all their possessions in bombing raids, some in the most devastatingly senseless attacks in the last days of the war.

War is horror. War is deadly. War is destructive. War is ugly and violent. There are no winners in war. There are only victims! I know what war is. I have experienced it. I remember it. I do not have to read about it in history books! I also have a profound sympathy for any and all, who also had to go through such tragic times. It is a bond which we share and which connects and unites us.

One of my dearest friends is 94 years old Herman Taube (published poet, author, educator, journalist) and his wife Susi. They are both Holocaust survivors. I seriously recommend reading his latest book: Surviving Despair: A Story about Perseverance.

Your Gerhard A Fürst,

Personal background… in part:

Three extensive tours of East Africa: 1965, 1972, 1976, for purposes of both graduate and post-graduate studies. Visits to India: 1965 and 1972.

Adjunct Professor of Social Science for 17 years in the College of General Studies, Western Michigan University, teaching among other things an undergraduate social science course required for graduation: “Introduction to the Study of the Nonwestern World,” a cross-disciplinary course dealing with history, geography, economics, sociology, and political science; subsequent to that, teaching two additional years in WMU’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, including a course about African History. Additionally, full time teaching of social studies and languages in the Kalamazoo Public School System for nearly 37 years. Retirement in 2003.

The department head in the Nonwestern World course was Visho Sharma, Ph.D., highly esteemed Professor Emeritus of Social Science, originally from Kenya, now in full retirement regalia!

And see

Rising To The Top…no Matter the Matata… no matter the heartache…or heartbreak!

A Review Of – More Matata. Love After the Mau Mau, A Novel Set in Goa and Kenya,  Gerhard A. Fuerst – January 2013

What in my estimation makes the historical novels of author Braz Menezes so fascinating is his lively and exciting narrative style, which entices the reader to follow him wherever he guides, lures, and leads you, often with a very delightful sense of self-deprecating humor. Books one and two, published to date, of his Matata Trilogy, with number three being a work in progress, are essentially biographical in nature. It is history lived and experienced in actuality!


And see as well:

What’s Wrong with Children Today? by Gerhard A. Fuerst

Reposted by the Coffee Coaster with the author’s permission

Young people are handed a given set of circumstances at birth, and they grow into it, they try to adapt and adjust to it, they try to fit in, to find their niche where they will not feel alienated or rejected, or they will manipulate it for their convenience, and often in ways which are confounding, often risky, even dangerous. Experimentation, trials and tribulations, pushing the limits…it’s a trademark of youth.


Kategorien:Gesellschaft, Politik Schlagwörter: , ,
  1. Februar 12, 2013 um 9:41 am

    Thank you, Gerhard, for let us being part of your inside views of WWII. You wrote:

    There are no winners in war.

    I see a YES and a NO.
    YES in respect of the people, and soldiers as well.
    And NO in respect of the elites delivering all the materials for making war as well as for the materials reconstructing the destructed infrastructures.

    Kind Regards, Martin

  2. Berthild Lorenz
    Februar 13, 2013 um 3:57 pm

    Ärgerlich finde ich, dass ich nur den Anfang lesen und verstehen kann – ich hatte nie Englisch… „Friedliebende Menschen werden ignoriert und oft als Feiglinge dargestellt, verpönt und verspottet, und Kriegstreiber haben freie Hand und werden als “Helden”gefeiert, während sie nahezu ungehindert ihren brutalen Unfug und ihr Übel treiben.“ Tja, beginnt nicht mit dem Verstehenwollen eines Menschen der Frieden stiftende Prozess??

    • Februar 13, 2013 um 4:02 pm

      Tja, beginnt nicht mit dem Verstehenwollen eines Menschen der Frieden stiftende Prozess??

      Bingo, sagt hier manchmal einer, nun ich. Das war die Motivation meines Blogs und deshalb auch „Faszination Mensch“ 🙂

    • Februar 13, 2013 um 4:03 pm

      und vielleicht finden wir ja noch Jemanden, der Zeit für eine Übersetzung hat 🙂

  3. Gerd Zimmermann
    Februar 14, 2013 um 10:15 am

    Wozu? Ich rede als deutscher doch auch deutsch.

    Gruss Gerd

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