Thursday, December 19, 2013

O'Hare's WWII Diary: "We are Being Looked After Like Pet Children by the Russians"

Writer Kurt Vonnegut's letter home, written soon after his release from a POW camp, was published here early this week. Believe it or not, my dad was the real writer back then - he even kept a diary for a few days.

Unlike Vonnegut, he sheds no light on what had actually happened to him as a POW. He provides no explanation about his weight going from 150 lbs. before the war to 80 lbs. as Adolph's guest. Mum's the word. He'd stay like that the rest of his life. Vonnegut's three-page letter tells me more about my dad's POW experience than he himself ever shared.

He just drank. A lot. Especially at Christmas time. That didn't kill him. Neither did the Germans. The cigarettes did.

But for one week, my father chronicled his post-release experiences in amazing detail. Just twenty-two at the time, he was a pretty good writer himself. Occasionally, he mentions Vonnegut, who was just a "minor being" at the time. For the next few days, I'll share my dad's thoughts with you, day by day.

5/17/45

Our mangy but well-fed crew left DiHille's at noon today. We proceeded over the Elbe to Russian headquarters in the city and after much confusion - due to our ignorance of the Russian language and vice versa - we were directed to the Hitler Caserne on Konigsbage Strasse. Here we find ourselves confronted with the perpetual situation of no one knowing anything about anything. However, we are being looked after like pet children by the Russians. We have been here only four hours at the most and have already been fed twice, showered, de-loused and billeted. As near as we can gather from speaking to the limeys and G.I.'s here, we are to stay put until our troops come seeking us. Except for the anxiety that we all have concerning our parents and families, we don't give a damn how long it takes them to root us out.

I heard my first radio program since I was captured. Dannine and I went across the compound and fell in with a few Tommies who have a wireless set in their flat. We heard an A.M.G. broadcast from Hamburg. That American music certainly sounded good. The Tommies surprised us before the evening was over with a meal of spuds, meat and beans. We rejoined our crew with a full stomach and a highly satisfied mien. I don't believe I'll ever get up out of bed again. Goot nacht.

Blogger's Note: First published 12/11/07.

3 comments:

LVCI said...

Your dad was very fortunate. A fella was discussing how they were treated under the Nazis in Slovakia.

They looked forward to the Russians driving the Nazis out of their city. When the Russians then invaded and drove the Germans from their city, they prayed for the return of the Germans. It seems the German group treated them far better then the Red Army did.

Perhaps this was just how the Russians felt towards Slovakians as compared to Americans.

Anonymous said...

Mr. O'Hare,
We believe your dad was a great writer, but you you are too.
This blog is the first thing we
check out each morning to see what's happening.
The issue discussed with regard to the RNC and the Callahan beady eye commercial has changed our perception of Dent.

Anonymous said...

ATTENTION CHARLIE DENT'S OFFICE: The men in this article are dead. There is no reason for Charlie to abandon the health bill debate to award a certificate of appreciation. Save your colored paper in the laser printer!