Thursday, 12 September 2013

Guest Post - A German POW Story Shared by Lutz Beranek

Lutz and Antje - taken at a Hannover Restaurant where they
kindly treated my friend, Kathy and me to supper
As promised in a previous post, here is the story Lutz Beranek shared with me some time ago. Lutz' dad was one of the German POW kept in Canada during WWII. While in Germany I had the joy of spending a weekend with Lutz and his wife, Antje.

Richard Beranek, Lutz' father, as a POW

My father was one of the last prisoners to come into the camp at Mafeking. He was also one of the youngest in the camp. The other prisoners were familiar with each other but for my father everything and everyone was new and strange. He wanted to be careful who to become friends with, for he didn’t know what kind of people his camp mates were.
However, it quickly became apparent that the other prisoners were nice people from Germany. They were all dependent on each other and had to make the best of this situation. On a day off two prisoners asked my father if he wanted to come along to explore the area. He agreed, knowing he’d get a chance to see something different, thus taking is mind off his imprisonment and homesickness.  The prisoners always spent a lot of time exploring the woods.

           So, the three set off for the woods. They talked of their home and enjoyed watching wild animals along the way. Soon, one of the prisoners found a little cute, black animal with a white stripe on its back.

“Come”' he said to my father.  “We’ll catch the animal and bring it back to camp for a pet. It will bring us a lot of joy.” The other two stood around the animal to prevent it from running away, while my father would try to grab animal. “It is actually quite simple.” His new friends reassured him.  Thinking this a good idea, my father walked towards the animal slowly, to keep from scaring it. Just as he moved to pick it up, the animal turned and sprayed a smelly liquid and disappeared. My father stank and the other two prisoners had a good laugh. First, my father was mad, but then he too found it funny.

“Herzlich willkommen ins Lager!” (Welcome to the camp) they said to my father, between laughs. Of course, this animal was a skunk and my father had never heard of such an animal. He learned, if you try to catch it, you will have to put up with its horrible smell. When they got to the camp, the other prisoners knew right away what had happened and enjoyed teasing him. My father then got lots of good advice on how he can get rid of the stench.

Now he too, knew how newcomers were welcomed and accepted into this camp. (Translated from German)

 Vielen Dank Lutz und Antje fuer diese lustige Geschichte, und auch fuer das wunderschoene Wochenende als ich in Hannover war!

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