From Oleh (posted March 4, 2014)

This is a story I heard Dad repeat several times when we were growing up. I remember once he mentioned it when we were paying for gas at a gas station and they were selling chocolate bars at the cash register.

It was towards the end of the War. The Americans would bomb from high altitudes in the day and the British would bomb at nights. There was every effort being made to destroy any industry and transportation in Germany. It was a tense time with Dad in a work camp. Rumors were floating around as to troop movements were taking place. Everyone was hoping to be captured by the Americans because they had the most food.

One day an American airplane dropped leaflets announcing that factory, where my father worked, was going to be bombed that night. So it was going to be a low level British bombing. That evening all he prisoners were dressed in striped clothing and sent out into and adjacent field so avoid loss of life. That night my Dad recalled the destruction and the burning of the factory where he has been working for the last 3 years of his life. That night he fell asleep on a bale of hay in the center of the field.

The following morning he was awakened to ground beginning to shake and tremble. He woke up to another huge wing of airplanes flying toward and over him. He lay on his back and watched. There was something different about these planes. As he gazed overhead he saw puffs appear in the sky and soon the entire sky was filled with paratroopers. He could read that they were American planes. He was in the middle of a drop zone. As he looked in awe at what was happening, he heard a commotion behind him. He spun around and there was a young paratrooper wrapping up his parachute. The soldier saw him and ran toward him barking out orders . Dad did not understand what he was saying. The soldier stopped and  took a look at Dad.

That must have been a scene. Two 20 years old looking at each other. One a soldier and the other a refuge from a labor camp. The soldier appeared to be stunned when he saw Dad. Maybe it was the health of my Dad or his gaunt face from years of malnutrition. I know Dad had boils on his face during and after the war. 

With the soldier yelling and my Dad confused, the soldier stopped reached into his coat pocket. Dad said he felt his face go flush. He thought the soldier was reaching for a pistol. He was a dead man.   The soldier pulled out three things a Hershey bar, a pack of Wrigley’s Spearmint gum and combat rations. He gave them to my dad and then Dad understood he was safe. I have to think it was the best meal he ever ate.   Anytime by Dad had a Hershey bar or was one on a counter at a store. I’m sure he thought of that moment. Freedom.