Sunday, 4 April 2010

Number 2 - Escaping death by a hair breadth

It seems I feel like adding one more post on this subject. But not chronologically, let's jump to the 1945 event "The School Yard Slaughter". The last of my near death experiences that happened during the Second World War.

My mom could not stand those daily bombings any longer. My father had a weak heart and was thus not drafted into the armed forces. But in 1945, the last months of this war, they took everybody who was at least able to crawl and he left for the militia (Volkssturm).

Old people reading the announcement that they are being called into the militia

My father gone, she decided to go to Vienna his native town. She thought in Vienna everything was peaceful, no air raids day and night. In this she was totally wrong but she did not know. In Prague our train trip came to an abrupt end. We never made it to Vienna.

/> Beautiful Prague - in peaceful peacetime

I don't remember what happened then, I don't remember but I know there was an air raid, a big one, king size air raid, have a look at Wiki here in case someone wishes to know more about this one. Anyway, I see myself walking through the streets of Prague, the houses on fire to the right and to the left. It was so hot we had to walk in the middle of the street.

Then a army truck picked us up and soon Prague was behind us, we were passing through the country side. Suddenly the driver stopped and even to me, now an old war hand six years old, it was quite clear why. Ahead of us, to the right and to the left side of the road, there were burning cars of all kind, a flaming car cemetery. We all stepped out, our flight ended here.

We were herded by Czechoslovakian or Russian soldiers into a kind of garden park. I think we waited there quite a long time. A soldier came, took some chocolate out of his pocket and looked at me, quite a long time. Finally he made up his mind, ate the chocolate himself and strolled away.

Finally we left the place. A long line of civilians and a few wounded soldiers. After some time we reached a school built of red bricks. They parked us in the square school yard, surrounded on all sides by the school building. On first floor, running all around, was a colonnade.

The armed men who guarded us stood in this colonnade, looking upon us.

Suddenly they started to shoot. A panic brought out, people were running in all directions to escape the bullets. We, too. There was a nurse tending to a wounded soldier: her throat was half ripped away and she was standing there. Our eyes met.

In a corner right under the colonnade were cellar doors and windows. Someone smashed those windows and my mom and myself found refuge there. At least they could not reach us from above. Our cellar was packed to capacity. We were standing there like sardines in a tin.

At some distance from where we were standing I hear a whimper: "water, water, water please". And then some else answered: "no way, he'll die anyway". Some minutes later we were standing knee-deep in ice cold water.

So we left the cellar. The shooting had stopped............


Yesterday, I had my first real flight with the new Swiss made paraglider. The wind was very strong, too strong. While starting, I was lifted up some meters, came down again and was dragged backwards on the ground. Then the canopy was stopped by a small oak tree wrapping itself around. I had nothing, not even a scratch. But it took me more than an hour to get the paraglider back to Mother Earth.


  1. hola Herr Georg, this is a shocking story and wonderfully narrated, with so much clarity that i was able to picture you there, 6 year-old herr Georg looking sad and confused to that soldier who ate the chocolate and didn't give you none... wow Herr Georg, i had NOT idea that you were a II World War victim, thank you for sharing those experiences, life is so fragile anyways, and then we stupid humans make everything worse with our violence and wars (war is for me the hardest thing to understand from humanity, i understand territorial violence in animals, but reason has really been twisted on human minds to get to a point of a war, collective insanity, huh?) even if this is a very obscure matter is really good to read you again Herr Georg, now i have NO idea how i missed the Number 1 of Escaping Death installments since i have your blog on my Google Reader and didn't get any updates, but when time permits, i will be back to read that one too!

    glad you survived the war Herr Georg, again life is so fragile, that everyday i am more amazed that we all are able to roam around and able to write post, smile, breath, and even simulate flights in computers, huh? glad you have a good time with the simulator!

  2. Bonjour Berenice,

    Thanks for your kind words. I can only agree totally with you. Life is fragile and it is a kind of miracle that we are still here, alive and kicking.

    So let's make the best of it, within our possibilities. And let's not be a nuisance to others, whenever possible. BUT: mort à l'infâme.


  3. Such a touching post Georg..especially the bit about the soldier and the chocolate...i feel like hugging that little six year old boy and plying him with chocolates...what an amazingly eventful life....
    Kevin an I, along with our son are going to be in Salzburg, Vienna, and Munich in the third week of june...I am sure u can tell me something interesting we could do/see other than the usual touristy stuff...

  4. Bonjour Rati,

    Thank you for your kind comment. All this happened so long ago and life was so different...... It could have been invented but it happened to me.

    As to your trip to Europe, I'll give it a long thought and send you an email or write it as a comment on your blog.

    But it all depends on your personal interests. I mean talking about Salzburg most people think Mozart. But not everybody. There are "Salzburger Nockerln" something to eat in a restaurant and there are also those chocolate balls (I've forgotten the name).

    Same for Munich. There is more to it than beer. And anyway, the October Beer Festival is in October. You'll be spared this.

    As I said, I'll think it over.


  5. j'ai été étonné par ce post à épisode.
    Je ne sais pas pourquoi mais j'ai tout de suite vu un rapport avec la mort de tous ces éminents Polonais morts pour avoir voulu commémorer le massacre de leurs officiers par les russes.
    Leur président n'avait pas voulu y aller en présence de Poutine et c'est "entre polonais" qu'ils ont péri.
    la vie vous joue de ces tours parfois!!!!!!!!

    comment va Élisabeth?
    Embrasse la pour moi.
    Au fait nous sommes venus dans le cantal le weekend dernier mais nous étions tout très "Auver-bouqués".
    Une autre fois j'espère.

  6. Such a vivid memory. It must be a strange thing, to hold the memories of war and violence. I only carry the stories of those before me, and though I have seen violence, it was no as brutal as what you have shared here.
    I wonder, how often do you think on these times?

  7. To Sorrow,

    As I said in the post before (N° 1), it was only this TV series "Incredible but true" that made me think about this distant past.

    It has been years and years I did not recall those memories of early childhood. Today's life is thrilling enough and anyway, it is not normal and healthy to potter around in the past (on a regular basis).

    Cheers Sorrow, thanks for commenting.


  8. Those are some vivid scenes you've recounted there Georg, and that's not surprising, given the sheer terror of those moments: when you met the eye of the soldier with the ripped off throat, or then when you fled to the cellar to avoid the bullets! I wonder if memory holds a bias for events that evoke extreme emotion...
    You should seriously consider publishing a memoir of those times.

  9. To Id,

    Thanks for this friendly comment. As to bias and memory, I remember those events as I have told. But I know from reading thrillers that ten witnesses give ten different tales of what had happened.......

    By the way, that ripped of throat did not belong to a wounded solder but to a young nurse. I remember her white cap and as I said, our eyes met.

    As to writing and publishing, I don't think there is much public interest. Most people prefer to see the war through clean bloodless movies and the younger ones have video games on top of this. Sure, when the young solders in Vietnam, Afghanistan or elsewhere are confronted with war as it really is, they need a psychologist for at least one year to get over it.


  10. I don't know what to say. You have such scary memories of your childhood (only 6 years of age) . Why they start shooting civilians like you for god sake?. I hate wars! I do hate wars! how people can be so heartless. Please tell us more of other incidents you mentioned in the previous posts when you get time.

  11. To Hiva
    These early childhood memories are so different from life nowadays that they seem not real. Nevertheless, war can happen at any moment, nearly everywhere. Just luck we are alive, healthy and able to do something meaningful.


  12. Indeed we shared the same war, and you were more exposed than me, being a little bit older you have kept images and feelings in your heart and memory. For a while, we were in Paris hiding because it was the only safe place according to my Mum, and she refused to go to shelters of course during bombing attacks. Now any time a plane flies low with terrific noise I have to run and cover my ears.(Among other things... and I cannot stand, because of this kind of primitive fright, when planes take off or land...). The idea of Peace does not seem a popular one, Peace and above all disarmament.
    I am astonished by what Berlin is doing,facing History, often heartbreaking. It had to be done.( very courageous towards the younger generation and us of course).It has not been done in France for the Vichy period. Still is a sore point.