Dear Liberators, Dear American friends
In those times, I was a young boy. Everything was unique, full of emotions and miraculous. I was a deserter from the German air defense corps. I was only fifteen and four months, when I was forcibly drafted. I was living hidden in our family home, located down the hill of the Lach. The Lach, was also the name of this area. Our house was the first house in the village on the road to Gobiving.
Dear liberators, it is a great honor for me to salute you on this commemoration day. Sixty years have past since this exceptional, fantastic event of history.
In the beginning of January 1945, only a short distance separated us from our American liberators, we were still bent under the rule of the German Nazi yoke.
The German’s advanced observation post was located in our house. They often spoke to my father. He was a Verdun veteran of WW I.
I would often find myself deeply thinking, as I was looking toward the hill of the Lach, from where a new life, a new world, the dream of this inaccessible liberty would come to me.
The winter was very harsh. Snow covered the ground, only the noises of machine guns broke the silence in my contemplations, hoping for freedom and peace.
We were living for a long time in a wretched basement flat with a vaulted ceiling.
Never did we forget to say our fervent prayers to god. O’ Lord be merciful and save us, and to Mary, his holy mother, protectress of human kind.
One night, an unforgettable night, I heard a stifled noise in the house. I went up the stairs from the cellar. To my surprise there were soldiers, American soldiers we were expecting for such a long time.” I shouted at them, we are civilians living here”. “There is a boy who speaks English” was their reply, and they told us to “come upstairs”. The contact was made. Their interrogations were pouring down. .” Tell us! Tell us all the truth you know”, and after that” where is your father? He probably speaks English as well”, (he did not), “but he must come with us, we need him”.
Some days after, I had given a letter to a young man named René Egloff from the town of Béhren who was intent on crossing over to the American lines. The letter was addressed to the American Military authorities, in which I described the German Military positions in our surroundings. Sometime after, someone knocked at the window and said in a low voice:” Albin, open the door we are Americans, your father is all right. Since their first departure with my father, the village suffered from heavy shelling and the Germans questioned my father’s absence everyday, longing to know his whereabouts. I replied, that he had gone to help repair a roof, or gone to assist in a calf’s birth.
At this second meeting, the American soldiers said to me: “Our forces will be here any day now, get all the able men in the village to remove the German anti-tank defense barriers.
The next day 17th of February the first convoy of American troops came down the Lach road to liberate our village and brought my father back. He shared his American chocolate bars with us and related his odyssey since his departure.
The chain of events moved fast, and I quickly got into the Commander’s jeep, thus began my mission as an interpreter for the American Army, in helping to communicate with the poor frightened population. We were all so happy to be liberated at last and to have reached the Nightmare’s end. I also accompanied the American Military Doctor in his devoted actions and acquired the first desire for my vocation to become a Physician and I did so.
My infinite thanks to our American friends and liberators, Vive l’Amerique.
Every year since, I mark my presence for the Memorial Day celebrations at the Lorraine American Cemetery in Saint-Avold.
We shall now observe a moment of silence in memory of all the young glorious American soldiers killed in action who gave their life for freedom and for all our civilian victims. “THANK YOU”
Dr. Albin LUDWIG
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