Carroll Daily Times Herald

Carroll, IA

05 May 1945




Nazi Citizens Directed Fire on Americans

By Frank Miles
(Daily Times Herald War Correspondent)

In Germany -- The nazis had been driven well east of the Rhine river except directly across from Cologne when this was written. They stayed under cover but at intervals would hurl mortars or machine gun bursts into areas where they thought Americans were watching for a counter-move.

Cologne citizens helped them until our sentries were ordered to keep buildings and streets near the short clear of civilians. A German man or woman would stroll near a Yank outpost, stick a yellow measuring rule in the ground near it and stroll away. The colored line gave Jerries a target. Eight men and four woman were found hiding in a basement close to where a squad of doughboys was on alert. Three measuring rules were taken from them. The Germans left under MP escort.

In a concrete shelter the Germans had abandoned I found two Iowans -- Sgt. Frank Petersen, Anthon, and Pfc. Gerald Pepper, Boone, who said Pfc. Robert Manning, Maquoketa, was in his company. They were of the 86th division which had been overseas three weeks.

Earlier that day in a drive south of Cologne I stopped to talk with two doughs, who were manning ack-ack guns, protecting a pontoon bridge. Pfc. Albert Rowley, Des Moines, was one. He said the gun, named "Bama Rebel," and M-51, would fire 600 50-caliber shells a minute from each of its four barrels.

I went from Cologne to Frankfurt-on-Main, arriving there two days after it had been captured by the American Third army. Frankfurt, like Cologne, almost had been pulverized by American and British air bombs.

Sgt. Don Hilger, Waterloo, was in command of a tank halted on a street. He talked modestly on his experiences in Luxembourg and Germany but was more concerned about his brother, Joe, in the South Pacific.

Staff Sgt. Tommy Leonard, Des Moines, and Lamoni, and Pfc. Sam Brower, Burlington, were in an outfit of engineers rebuilding a bridge the nazis had destroyed trying to impede the advance of American infantrymen.

An army public relations officer led a group of officers and war correspondents on a tour of Frankfurt to view damage to production plant by explosives dropped from the sky.

Everywhere we stopped we met liberated citizens of countries Germany had over-run, who had been forced to work in nazi factories and homes. They told shocking stories of wracking labor, poor food, bad housing and brutality of bosses.

The superintendent of the Heddernheim Engineering Works, a satanic looking middle-aged man, met us there after we had passed through a crowd of freed slaves, who were milling around dazedly. The nazi master understood English when he wanted to and spoke it well. With a smile through eyes in which he could not conceal his hate for us he tried to suavely say his plant had produced only plane propellers, not parts for V-1s or jets. We proved he lied about that.

Later, in conversation with two reporters, he told how kind he always was to his employees, though we knew the facts from them talking with some of them.

"Yes, as soon as we knew the Americans were coming we told these people to go home. You see, they are eating our food and food is scarce here."

Asked how we got men and women from Russia, France, Poland. Belgium and other lands, he had the idiotic gall to say 95 per cent came willingly because of the good jobs offered. He was then called a blankety-blank liar by one scribe. To that he shrugged, smiled wolfishly, and asked for a cigarette, which he didn't get.

The laborers were paid $8 every two weeks of which they turned back $1.50 for grub and they worked 12 hours a day seven days a week. Failure to please the master meant a beating, Complaints led to the nearby gestapo camp.

A French woman with a sore eyed baby took it to the plant physician the day before we were there. "I have no time for your brat now," the man snapped.

Frankfurt folks were strongly nazi until the Yanks came. Then the "super men and women" became "sad sacks."

Source: Carroll Daily Times Herald, May 5, 1945

Return to News Index