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I worked in Ludwigsburg together with another boy from Tienen (Belgium) in a factory that made small components for engines.

We were both from the same mindset, that was nationalists, and I have to tell you that there was enough propaganda in Germany made by the National Socialist Party to join the Waffen SS. The propaganda was so convincing that we couldn’t resist the temptation. The propaganda posters and placards said “Auch du!” – “You too”, join the Waffen SS or join the German Armed Forces to fight communism!

It was at the end of August 1943 that we finally enlisted in the Waffen SS, more particularly in the Flemish Legion. We left for Frankfurt for our medical examination and other testing and we were both found suitable for service. When I was accepted in the Waffen SS I requested to be put into a Panzer unit. Funny enough my request was granted and I was sent to Sennheim (SS-Ausbildungslager) for 14 days. There we had to swear the oath to Hitler and after that, we were taken by train to Breslau. In Breslau, we received our infantry training. From Breslau, we went to Milovic where we were trained to become truck drivers. From Milovic we went to Debica where we finally received our Panzer training (Sturmgeschütze). The Panzer training lasted about two months and on Christmas night of 1943, we were celebrating the end of our training. We were all happy and joyful and everybody was singing. We had some very good food, one can say maybe the best food I’ve ever had. While enjoying our dinner and singing our songs the joyful atmosphere got interrupted by a courier that came in with a telegram for our commander. Our commander dropped his cutlery and stood up to accept the telegram. He read the message in silence. Everybody had become so quiet that the silence was almost frightening. Then came the words: “Men, prepare yourselves to go to the Eastern Front!”

A few minutes after we got the news we were already preparing to take off to the East. We started loading all our equipment on trains: trucks, tanks, ammunition, etc. There were also some soldiers from a FLAK unit (Anti-aircraft unit) with Vierling FLAK and 22 mm canons boarding the train. Once everything was ready, we left for the Eastern Front, to Russia, with destination unknown. I remember it was a very long trip with many ups and downs. Sometimes the train had to come to a full stop because of aerial attacks. Finally, we arrived in a train station in the Zhitomir area. What we didn’t know was that the Russians were still occupying the train station and surrounding areas. So, at our arrival, we got caught in our first real fight. I remember that our infantry was already fighting the Russians and we received the news that the 1st Infantry Company was missing in action. The 2nd Infantry Company was tasked to go out and set up a search and rescue mission. Unfortunately, the 2nd Infantry Company was ambushed and after heavy fighting, they were taken as POWs (Prisoner of War) by the Russians. Later I heard that these poor guys had to march, stripped from their clothes and shoes, with no food or water, to a POW camp in Tambov which was approximately 400 Km from Moscow. For us, the Panzer unit, things turned out differently. We stayed out of the hands of the Russians as we were constantly fighting and retreating until we reached Jampol. There we, the Flemish Legion, were surrounded by the Russians. It was a nightmare as our troops were decimated there. However, I was lucky as I was located at the outskirts of the city with my unit. We had to get out of this hell hole so we looked for a way out. Nearby we saw a bridge that was still intact. We as well as the Russians wanted to keep the bridge intact. We needed it to get out of the city and the Russians needed it to get into the city. Our commander knew that the Russians were coming and that they used the technique of carpet bombing for certain locations to annihilate the ground armies. We only had 3 or 4 tanks left in our unit, nothing more. So, our unit received the order that all Sturmgeschütze had to cross the bridge at full speed. That’s what they did and once our comrades crossed the bridge they’d spread out and destroyed whatever they could find on their paths. Surprisingly enough they broke through the Russian lines with such a magnitude that all the Russian soldiers were in a panic. Then all of a sudden all Panzer had dissappeared. After a couple of minutes we saw the Panzers turning back towards the bridge! Now they were attacking the Russians in the back. Our unit survived this battle however the poor guys that were sitting in the back of the trucks, one of them I was driving, and who fell out were lost forever. We were not able to turn back and pick them up as it was too dangerous. Lucky for us it froze the day before and all fields were covered with ice. That was our only luck... Can you imagine if that were mud? It would’ve been a hopeless situation.

While crossing the fields we were attacked by Russian artillery. I was a truck driver then and I had 10-12 wounded soldiers on my truck. When I say wounded I mean severely wounded! One poor guy had both legs and one arm blown off. I was surprised he was still alive. Another one was hit in the abdomen by a bullet and you could see his intestines, that’s how big that hole was. While driving my truck to the fires of hell of the Russian artillery my truck got hit by a piece of shrapnel. That piece of shrapnel went through the passenger door cutting my passenger in two! Then it ripped apart my seat as it passed me in the back and then it exited through my door. I was very lucky not to get hit by that projectile however my comrade who was sitting in the passenger seat died instantly. After a long drive, we arrived in Stara Konstantinov which was still in German hands. There we were able to rest a little bit but soon we had to hit the road again. Before we hit the road again we had to modify a part of our uniform. You have to know that when I joined the Waffen SS I had the “Trifos” or swastika with three arms on my collar tabs. This was the symbol of the Flemish Legion of the Waffen SS. Our commander Konrad Schellong ordered us, in Stara Konstantinov, to remove the trifos from our uniform and to replace it with the SS runes. Some of the men of my company were not happy with this order to replace the trifos with the SS runes as they felt they belonged to the Flemish Legion in the first place and not to the Waffen SS. The protest didn’t change the situation at all and the SS runes were put on our uniforms. There was absolutely nothing we could do about this situation. After this little incident, we were relieved by another unit and we were put back on a train heading west this time. We went through the Carpathians – Romania, Hungary, and a piece of Czechoslovakia, to finally arrive at our temporary destination in Poland: Jaslo (Jassel in German). We had to stay there for a couple of days because there wasn’t enough room to station our unit at our final destination: Ersatzlager Debica. After spending a few days in Jaslo we finally left for our final destination. In Debica we had four camps and it was there when reinforcements arrived.

In Debica we were assigned a Panzer or tank however the funny fact was that the Germans units always had priority in choosing a Panzer. It was a normal thing that the Germans had priority in choosing the equipment and sometimes all Panzer was gone...nothing was left for us. Maybe this was out luck so we didn’t have to go to the front all the time. However, this time we got a Hetzer Panzer or a Jagdpanzer 38(t) Hetzer (Baiter or Troublemaker), Sd.Kfz.138/2, but it was also known simply as Panzerjäger 38(t). It was armed with 75mm Pak 39 L/48 gun. An interesting feature was the remotely controlled MG34/42 mounted on the roof, with 360 degrees rotation for local defense. The machine gun had a 50-round drum magazine and could be aimed and fired from inside the vehicle. The Hetzer was able to knock out a T34 Russian Tank from a distance of 700m if it would hit the frontal armor of the T34. But the Hetzer was a very light Panzer and was very vulnerable during battle.

From Debica we had to move to Czechoslovakia to a place that was located at approximately 60 Km from Prague. We arrived in an abandoned town where only the mayor and a few other people were left behind to keep an eye on things. The reason this village – and some other villages in the area – was abandoned was because the year before Reinhard Heydrich was murdered in Prague. I really don’t know what happened to the inhabitants of these villages. We were not allowed to touch anything although we were allowed to sleep in the houses. During the day we were practicing drill and doing military exercises. Actually, we had a really good life there. From there we had to regroup or reform a Panzer unit which was very expensive and time-consuming. Once we were regrouped, we were sent to the Lüneburger Heide which was 40 Km south of Hamburg. The Germans believed that the Allies would drop paratroopers at that location so we had to go there immediately. We were used as security forces for that location. So, we arrived there at the end of October 1944 and we stayed there on some local farms. I remember that we were staying on a farm with seven soldiers, five Flemings, and two Germans. We, the Flemings were always singing Flemish songs of course, and we were doing this is the massive living room of the house. At a certain moment, we heard some noise coming from behind the entrance door. We opened the door and there stood the farmer, his wife, and some servants. All were listening to our songs and music that we made. They asked us where we were from and proudly, we told them: “From Flanders!” Then came the time to leave again and we were back on the road, this time to Bad Saarow, 30 Km east of Berlin. In Bad Saarow there were living lots of German movie stars.

There we were stationed in a brand-new military camp. While staying there we had to do some military exercises again, but this time we had to practice with hand grenades. Our exercise grenades, or dummy grenades, had a yellow head so we knew they were not real. However, one day one of our NCOs held a grenade in his hand, he pulled the pin, and that thing just exploded in his hands. Was it a mistake from his part or was in an act of sabotage? Who knows? The NCO died instantly and after the incident there followed an investigation to make sure that sabotage could be excluded. When the investigation was over, we received our new Panzers. My birthday was on February 28 and on March 1 – 1945 we had to go back to the front. The front line was now located at the River Oder – at the border with Poland. The Russians were now very close to the heart of the Reich. On our first night at the front, we stood ready with approximately 120-140 tanks. Of course, these were not all from the same caliber. They were just the leftovers that they found: Panzer IV, Hetzer, Tiger, etc. We were there together with a division of the Wehrmacht. When I think back about that division, I have to say that they were just a bunch of untrained soldiers of the Luftwaffe (Air Force) and Kriegsmarine (Navy). I felt really bad for them as they had no clue what they were doing and what was going to happen in the next few hours. They had no front experience at all so when the battle started hundreds of them died instantly. During one of the last fights, I became isolated with my tank, which was a Hetzer. Our tank commander had committed Fahnenflucht or desertion. Because of that, I became the commander of our tank. Actually, I had no choice as I was the highest in rank. Usually, our tank would carry 4 to 5 infantry soldiers, as protection against enemy infantry. I never understood the benefit of putting men on a tank. They were just living targets for enemy fire, not protected against artillery fire like we were inside our tank. With an infantry assault they were able to take cover behind the tank and advance in all safety but otherwise, there was no protection at all for them.

So, our last month and a half at the front we were on our own. I have to tell you, and this is the truth, that we were very lucky that we were always able to find ammunition and fuel for our tank. While we were in smaller towns or villages, we were always able to find plenty of food, which was sometimes hidden in barns under a stack of hay. Animals were just running around so we shot pigs and cows to eat. The only thing is that we had to butcher them but when you’re hungry the butchering part is not a problem at all! Sometimes we would find an abandoned truck full of fuel so we were always able to refuel our Panzer. Then in other trucks, we would find ammunition and funny enough it was always the ammunition that we needed for our guns. While roving on our own, detached from our unit, the only contact we had was with our unit commander by phone, and that is if there was a phone line available. My unit commander was a Fleming as well and when we communicated, we talked to each other in Dutch. That way the Russians wouldn’t be able to understand us! He asked me where I was and I told him we were in Stettin. Immediately he told me to pull back. He said that we were in a pocket of 30 Km, behind enemy lines! In Stettin we drove through the city, looking for a way out. All buildings were on fire and most of them were at the point of collapsing. At the end of the street, we saw a bridge and I asked my driver what he thought about it, looking at the fact of crossing the bridge with our Panzer. He replied that the bridge wasn’t wide enough however he would try to cross it at about 50 Km/h. That way, if the bridge would collapse the Panzer would already be on the other side of the river. The river was about 8 to 10m wide so before the bridge would collapse, we would’ve been safe on the other side. We crossed the bridge that day! Almost every day we were engaged in heavy fighting and during one of the last fights, we were able to regroup. We were back in business with 4 tanks.

One day we were driving out of the woods and we saw a nice big farm on top of a hill. The far was brand new and it was very beautiful to look at. Miraculously it was still untouched by bullets or artillery fire. We decided to stay in this beautiful farm. One of our Unterscharführer was named Richard Wagner like the famous composer. He was actually related to him and he had the same name! When we entered the farm, we saw a nice big piano standing in a corner of the living room. Wagner instantly started playing on the piano but then, after a minute or so, he suddenly stopped playing. He looked at me and said: “The Russians won’t get this piano!” Then he did something that completely took me by surprise. He took a grenade, placed it inside the piano. Gently he pulled the pin and closed the piano. Of course, we left the house in a hurry and there it was... The grenade went off with a huge blast destroying this nice piece of artwork. After this short break at the farm, we got isolated again. It was just our tank crew and four infantrymen. We drove through the woods again and to find another farm on top of a hill. This farm wasn’t as beautiful as the last one however there was something that triggered or senses. Around the barn of the complex, we noticed a pile of empty shells lying on the ground. Luftwaffe anti-aircraft! We approached the barn and there we found some ground personnel of the Luftwaffe however they were not capable to fight. We looked at the surrounding area to see if there were enemy units approaching and suddenly at the end of a field, hiding under a tree, we observed a tank! Was it the enemy waiting for us? No, it was one of ours! We went to take a closer look and we noticed that it was out of service. The crew was gone so we decided to take its ammunition. While we were getting out of our tank to get the ammo my gunner said that he was going to load a round in the tank’s gun. He said that he wanted to be prepared in case the enemy would show up. At this point in the war, you never knew what was or could be coming to you. Not even a minute later someone yelled “Panzer von links!”, and we ran back to our tank. Thanks to the loaded gun of our tank we were able to knock out the approaching enemy tank. However more enemy tanks started to approach our position so we had to load, aim, and fire! We had to repeat this process until our gun suddenly jammed. Actually, the barrel wouldn’t move forward anymore so I told my driver to back up and drive away in a safe direction as fast as he could. That day we drove for our life until we drove over a hill straight into a valley where we were safe. There we leveled our tank and we drove against a huge pine tree, barrel first of course. In first gear, we were pushing against the tree but because of the built-up pressure of the barrel, the tank would slide back. At a certain point, we thought that the barrel could explode at any time however the barrel worked again as the pressure was relieved. After that, we proceeded to a nearby village. There we aimed for the church; we pointed at the church to set the sights back for our gun. Once that was done, we were back in business!

This is a part of my story which I don’t really like to tell. We had to retreat because the Russians were with so many that we wouldn’t survive for ten seconds. Lots of my friends were killed in action and one day we had no choice to retreat. While retreating we observed a Stalin Panzer on top of a hill. We were absolutely unable to fight such a beast with a small gun. The Stalin had front armor of about 30 cm, which was a lot thicker than the armor of our Hetzer. The only weak part on the Stalin was the turret. It was mounted on a light ring to make it able to turn around. I told my gunner to aim for the turret. He fired a shot and it was a direct hit. We disabled the Stalin as it wasn’t able to turn its turret anymore. The danger was gone now. We also destroyed one of its tracks so we also immobilized it. While driving away I observed two officers of the Luftwaffe committing Fahnenflucht or desertion. I shot at them and ordered them to come back. Both came back and of course, they thought I was going to execute them. Instead, I told them to take a wounded Luftwaffe officer with them – whom we were transporting in our tank – so that they wouldn’t come over as cowards. At least they had a legitimate reason to run away from the front line. The thing was that that desertion was severely hanging. Deserters were executed wherever it was possible to do so. During our retreat we drove through the country and at a certain moment we arrived at a bridge over a wide river. Without hesitating, we crossed the bridge and the moment we just got off the bridge it blew up in one hundred thousand pieces! We continued our way and we arrived at a railroad track. The track was on a slight elevation which of course could cause a problem for our tank. Our Hetzer was a light tank with a light engine so we were not sure if that thing would make it over that steep little hill. We decided to give it a try apart from our driver – of course – we all went to sit in the back of the tank to put some weight on the tracks. Our driver went full throttle and slowly the tank started to climb. Then the moment of truth: would we slide back or would it tip over so we could continue our way? I was so relieved when it tipped over!

Once on top of the tracks an infantryman tapped on my shoulder and asked me to look back, to the horizon. He handed me his binoculars and when I looked through them, I saw several Russian tanks approaching at about 2 Km of distance. We had to act quickly because we knew that the Russian tanks were a lot stronger than our little Hetzer. We turned around on the train track, backed up a little bit, to finally hide our tank behind the little hill. Only our barrel was sticking out, the rest of the tank was protected by a natural barrier. Systematically we started to fire at the oncoming tanks. First to the left, then to the right, and then in the middle; this way the Russians had no clue that it was only one tank firing at them! If they only knew that only one tank was firing at them, they would’ve regrouped and concentrated their attack on one tank only. Luckily, we survived this battle and we managed to get away.

Then came the day that the German Armed Forces had to surrender to the Allies. I remember that it was on May 8 – 1945 that I heard Karl Dönitz on the radio stating that Hitler was dead and that he was in command now. He also stated that Germany had signed the unconditional surrender. This was it... the end or almost the end. We drove back to our unit, to the location where we all took off earlier in 1945. There we found numerous vehicles that were still intact. Of course, they were all abandoned but they were almost brand new. There we parked our Hetzer and I ordered to put explosive in the barrel and in the engine compartment. I let up the fuse and I destroyed our tank. From there we continued our journey on foot and I have to tell you that the first day was a living hell. As you know we were a few kilometers from the Russians however we wanted to get to the Canadians. The only problem was that they were 80 Km away from us. We marched day and night and when we finally reached the Canadian lines, we were surprised that they were so friendly to us. They drove by us with their vehicles...waving at us. Then a rumor was spread that the Americans would rearm us so that we could fight together against the Russians. Of course, this never happened. After a while, I took off my uniform and I put on civilian clothes. However, I kept my uniform until I was back in Belgium where I traded it for a pound of tobacco. I “sold” it to a Belgian officer. One pound of tobacco was worth a lot of money at that time! But back to the Canadian line now where we saw all sorts of people there. Soldiers, laborers, and... a few SS men where there. It was not a pretty sight as the SS men were being lynched. We were still with our group of seven soldiers. All Waffen SS! We had to undergo a medical examination and at the infirmary, we saw a placard saying “Delousing tomorrow. Hopefully, we’ll get rid of these animals.” I knew exactly what was going on and what they meant by it. They were looking for SS soldiers! When you delouse a person, they have to lift their arms... and under the arm, they would find the blood type tattoo if they were dealing with SS soldiers.

We all had an ID card – without pictures – so this worked in our advantage to escape the delousing process. I took a couple of cards from other people that were already checked. Then I showed them to a couple of soldiers who were checking prisoners. I was able to speak a little bit of English and I told them I was a Belgian. Without hesitation, they told me to join the other Belgians in the camp. I didn’t have to think a minute about this and I called my Flemish friends to come over. First, they hesitated a little bit but then they joined me. To my surprise, I realized that in the Belgian camp the majority of the people were veterans from the Eastern Front! In the Belgian camp, we were finally fed and we even got tents to sleep in. A couple of days later we were put on trucks to get back to Belgium. After 60 to 80 Km driving, we stopped in another camp where we got checked again under our arms. Don’t ask me how but we were able to escape this “check” again and we continued our journey back to Belgium. After spending the night in a camp, we were put back on trucks. I was about to take a seat in the back of the truck when I saw a man who was from my hometown. I think he recognized me but he kept his mouth shut. Good thing that he kept his mouth shut otherwise I would’ve been imprisoned for sure. Then the trucks drove off and I never saw this man again. We drove for days until we arrived at the Lüneburger Heide. There I saw the farm again where we stayed a couple of months ago during the war. Outside was the farmer’s wife doing the laundry and I really hoped, and prayed, that she wouldn’t recognize me.

At our next stop an English soldier approached me and said that tomorrow we would arrive in Solingen. There would be a huge checkpoint for former members of the Waffen SS. I knew our time had come and we had to act quickly. I told my friend Bob that we had to take action and that we had to get off the truck as soon as possible and run away. On the other side of the street, I saw a bakery. It was close enough to our truck so I asked the English soldier if we could go to the bakery to get some bread. Of course, he said yes and off we went. Inside the bakery, we asked if we could use the outhouse. When we were in the back yard we jumped over the fence into the back alley. From there we started running. We stopped at a bar where we knew the owner from before. He told us to stay in the house for the night as the Polish were still in town and they were a bunch of pigs! So, as we were told, we stayed overnight in the house. The next day the Polish left and we could get back into the town. We stayed in the town for a while and we worked on a farm where we used to stay during the war. At a certain moment, an English company arrived in the town and the peace and quiet were over again. My friend took off but I decided to stay in town. I had nowhere else to go. One day I received a love letter from one of the girls in town. So, at night, when I was in the bar, I started reading the letter out loud. The girl who wrote the letter was there as well and she was utterly offended because I was reading it out loud. She was so offended that the next day she went to the English to tell them that there was a Waffen SS soldier hiding in that house. I was working in the field that day when I saw a jeep approaching. The farmer who was with me in the field told me not to worry. He was so calm and self-confident as if he almost knew that nothing would happen to me. I was taken in custody and searched. My room in the house was searched as well but they couldn’t find a thing. Luckily, they never looked behind the door because there were five honor daggers hanging there (SS, SA, Army, Navy, and Luftwaffe).

I was transported to Camp Hasefeld. There I was told that if I would be cleared, I could go back to the farm where I was working. The camp didn’t even have any barbed wire and things seemed to be really easy going there. The next day after my arrival I was again subjected to a medical examination. The medic who assessed me was attached to the Air Force. He didn’t seem to care too much and he let me go without a problem. When I exited the medic’s office and English soldier asked me if I already passed the Politische Prüfung. I was a little bit confused and instead of answering yes I answered no. I was taken into a room where a man was sitting behind a desk. He had a red hat on his head and I’m sure he was an officer. He started asking me questions: “What’s your name? When and where were you born? Were you a member of the Hitlerjugend or NSDAP...?” Then he asked me to take my shirt off. I complied and there I stood in front of him half naked. I knew where he was going. Then he said: “Raise your arm.” I raised my right arm but I knew he meant my left arm. I knew exactly what he was looking for the “mark” under my left arm. Before I was able to hide the mark with some ointment but this time there was no escape. I raised my left arm and he said: “You are SS!” I said: “No I’m not” when he replied: “Yes you are.” This went on for a couple of minutes until I got annoyed by this game. I stood in front of him in perfect attention and I said: “Jawohl, Waffen SS!” He opened the top drawer of his desk and he took a handgun out. He carefully placed it on his desk. I can assure you that I started laughing at him and with him. I told him that he’d probably never seen any action on the battlefield and that he’d never had any bullets flying around his head. I said: “Your little toy gun is not scaring me at all.” He put the gun back into the drawer and he called two soldiers into the room. He ordered them to take me to a cell, which they did immediately. After a while, I started feeling hungry so I knocked on the door of my cell. An English “Feldwebel” answered and I told him I was hungry. He brought me a big bowl of oats, bread, and cheese. I finished the bowl of oats in no time and I asked for a second one. The guard asked me why I wanted a second one and I told him that I would keep the bread and cheese in case I would go hungry later on the day.

After a couple of days, they brought in a German. He was tall and carrying a big bag. The only thing he could do was to complain about everything and nothing. I asked him from which unit he was and he answered me: “Leibstandarte.” He said he had surrendered himself to the Allies and my reply to him was: “Sie sind ein Feigling! – You are a coward!” I stood up and slapped him in his face as hard as I could. He started knocking on the door like crazy calling for the guard. The guard arrived and asked what was going on. The German told him what I did to him. The guard looked at me and asked me if this was true. I told him: “Yes I slapped him in his face because he’s a coward. I tried to escape custody and he just surrendered to you so he’s a coward! Not far from me they kept Skorzeny. Yes, the Otto Skorzeny! One day I was put on an escort with Skorzeny and the other German soldier to another camp and I can assure you that I looked like a royal escort. When I arrived at the other camp, in Fallingbostel, there I was reunited with some NCOs from my old unit. Again, as a new arrival in a camp, I had to undergo another medical exam. Now I have to tell you that in my wallet I had a picture of my parents, sister, and neighbors, all were taken in my hometown. When I had to go for my medical there were 6 soldiers sitting in the room and one of them also had a red hat on. They asked me about the pictures in my wallet and I showed them. On some of the pictures, there was the writing Dendermonde and Merchtem. These were the locations where they were taken. The officer – with the red hat – opened his wallet and he had a picture in there with the writing “Merchtem” on it. He said he recognized the background on my pictures as he was stationed in Merchtem before. So, because if this I was cleared as not being a German but being a Belgian. I told the officer that I was a Fleming but because of that I received a good beating and I was told that I was a Belgian.

When I was identified as a Belgian, I was repatriated to Belgium with the Piron Brigade. We were put on a train from Fallingbostel to Belgium and I have to tell you that these men from the Piron Brigade – who were also on the train - stole all our belongings. An English soldier saw this happening and he yelled at them to stop their activities immediately. He told them: “Stop doing this, these men are also soldiers!” After this incident, we left for Belgium and we arrived in Schaarbeek. There we were transferred to a prisoner’s camp. After a while, I had to appear in front of a military tribunal and my lawyer told me to be humble, friendly, and repentant. I told him I couldn’t play this game and when I appeared before the courts, I showed no remorse for what I’ve done. I was sentenced to lifetime imprisonment and I was stripped of all my civilian and military rights. After my sentencing, I was transferred to a POW in Beverloo. There I had to reappear before the courts and my sentence was reduced to 20 years, then 10 years, and finally to 5 years. I spent some time in Beverloo until the day I got the word that I was free. I was so happy that I was finally free that I was already drunk before I got home. My entire family was waiting for me and this was the end of my misery. When I was back in my hometown people never took offense about the fact that I was a former member of the Waffen SS. When my father received a notification that I was still alive he immediately sent for my mother who was visiting her mother in another town. He sent my sister to her. When my mother received the news that I was still alive she walked back home with a rosary in her hand, praying for me until she got back home. I was a soldier and I’ve done my duty as a soldier. I don’t have to be ashamed of my actions at all!”

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