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Born on the wrong Side of the Fence

Biography and Memories of an Austrian Migrant


Bruno Ehlich

2005, 2009 Bruno Ehlich

Chapter 11

My Friends the GIs of the 90th Division

    Days after this humorous incident, more troops arrived and some of them moved into our hotel, "Gasthof zum Burgkrug." Most of them were administration officers, drivers and security staff including MPs. Their headquarters were in Weiden about 24 kilometers from Leuchtenberg, and some of them traveled from there every day. Also a lot of equipment was shipped here from Weiden.

    The young Bavarian ladies just loved those ever-smiling Yanks as they were called. It had something to do with those nylon stockings they offered them in large quantities. How they got hold of them so fast during the days of the war will be a mystery to me forever. We boys saw a lot of our young frauleins kissing and cuddling some lucky GI and it was very common in later months that the birthrate went up a little here in Leuchtenberg. Later, as I grew up and understood more about the birds and the bees, I could not blame either of them, the frauleins or the GIs.

    The frauleins had never seen so much attention ever, as most young German men had been drafted into the army and there was the factor that the U.S. GIs had a lot of "goodies" such as nylon stockings, chocolate, cigarettes, perfumes, coffee, etc., which of course the frauleins loved and, in the hard days following the surrender, those goodies were used to barter for more essential goods. The poor GIs had not only risked their lives every day and never knew if they would survive another day, so they used every opportunity to have a little loving and cuddling. How could anybody deny it to them? Later we saw many of those young ladies marry their GI sweethearts and move with them to the U.S.

    I may add here that it happened not only to the GIs, but I saw it happen to other soldiers like Russians, French and especially English soldiers. A young lady by the name of Julie Wimmer had her hand blown off by playing with a hand grenade she found in the vineyard, married a Russian Mongolian soldier by whom she got pregnant and in 1952 went with him to Mongolia; a happy outcome. I must say here that of course many pregnant girls were left with their babies forever, as this also happened in the Vietnam War. Had Julie Wimmer been stuck with her Mongolian looking baby by herself, it would have had bad consequences for her. We could see in later years when there were babies fathered to Vietnam girls who had a very different facial appearance and stood out in the crowd and therefore had terrible times in their young lives.

    Now, I became again popular with the GIs as they remembered that I was captured just outside of the castle walls and had worked with the German troops as a temporary runner, loader, etc. They asked me one day if I knew where some or all of the remaining telephone wires and radio equipment was, as some of it was still in the top of the castle tower and the remaining cut wires were still dangling down from it. So I told them that in the last days, just before I had been ordered to that gun crew, I had worked in the attic of the German communication center just outside of the castle, unrolling those cables and dragging them up there with some of my school comrades. Therefore I had seen all this radio and transmitting equipment up there. I had no idea what it was as at nine years of age, all this made no sense to me. I just did what they told me to do. As mentioned before, the Germans had an observation post up there. The GIs then took me up to the house on the right hand side of the castle wall gate and the church, climbing up to the attic and forcing open the only door. There they found tons of smashed up radio and telephone equipment including those wires they were looking for. All I remember are the words they said, "God damn, it's all here." I received a pat on my shoulder and chewing gum. They thanked me for my help and Mum received a very nice K-ration parcel that evening and we were instructed not to tell anyone of all of this.

Contents                   Chapter 12