Wednesday, 20 August 2014

POW REUNION, COLORADO SPRINGS


     As the majority of us have flown on, this reunion will contain a large percentage of younger relatives, intent on preserving memory of us.  This is my message to them:

    "It does gladden my heart to see the interest you young and healthy people take in us old fogies for what you imagine we may have accomplished.  May I just say where I would prefer you to direct your energies, remembering that war is an avoidable curse on the human species and hell for the populations that are trapped into quarrels not of their making.
    Yes, we were locked up, some as long as almost 6 years with all the deprivations this implies, but we POWs of the Luftwaffe were very fortunate unlike those taken by other groups.  It was a time we could use for relaxation and education.  
    When we were on "operations" in the Commonwealth forces or on "missions" in the US forces we lived each day and night with fears that ate at our innards.  In my case in Bomber Command our life expectancy was 5 operations and the survival rate of those shot down was only 17%.  Perhaps a little appreciation for the tensions of this period would be appreciated.
   But, when I survived the trauma of being shot down and losing great friends, I was greatly relieved to find my captors, both civilian and military, all respectful.  Then, when the two gates clanged shut behind me. in Kriegieland, I was in a compound of 2,000 boys and men from 23 countries with above-average educations containing experts in every pursuit imaginable..  What a rare opportunity for a free higher education!
    Now, military correctness, stupidly I thought, ordered us to remain belligerents, fighting the enemy in every way possible, but mainly by escaping that would tax his manpower.   This certainly exposed the talent and ingenuity among us as well as harming us more than the enemy, like the loss of the 50 executed by the Gestapo but forewarned by the Luftwaffe.  We were in the heart of a well-guarded country surrounded by 90 million enemy with few of us speaking their language.  Escape was an exercise in futility.  Our captors had a small staff of boys, old men, and those unfit for service on the numerous fronts.   Why not cultivate them as they were a respectful bunch and would be most useful in a post-war world - as we would be with the advanced education we could acquire in our "University of Sagan".  It was not too soon to start preparing for a better world.
     Many of us were convinced that the Nazis had beguiled reluctant Germans into a war they could not win in spite of bravery, talent, sacrifice, and initial successes.  The large land masses of the USSR east of the Urals, China, the US, Canada and the rest of the British Commonwealth, allowed the production of weapons and food needed for victory as well as the manpower.  An early indication of this was the humiliation the Germans suffered in having to allow the UK, Canadian, and US Red Cross to feed us.  And, yes, we were too cozy in forgetting the role we played in the rise of Nazism.
     Our compound was no exception to the scary rule that small, energetic minorities can wrest control of any association and force others to do their bidding.  In 12,000 years we have not learned that force begets force and misery begets misery.  While Greed prevails everywhere and is well entrenched here, most humans are kind and considerate of others so much so that they allow themselves to be led by those not so considerate.  Blindly following orders is a terrifying human fault..
     In my compound, like all the others, small groups formed Escape Committees that had us assuming they had unquestionable control and first choice of any assets.  It was our duty to cheerfully comply.    Only a chosen few were allowed, for ulterior purposes, to make friends with our guards.  I disobeyed this rule whenever the opportunity arose, but I did go along and did work effectively for the Escape Committee.  As we had a glut of time I used most of the rest taking courses and seeking long discussions with those of other backgrounds in the impossible task of trying to understand this universe and our species.  
     So, Kriegieland was my Alma Mater.  I need no pity.  Our world is an overpopulated mess and were are, thanks to geography, a privileged minority.  Use your talents and energies to fight injustice and support those organizations that are working peacefully to improve the status of humanity along with other life forms.
     Leave me with your friendship and I will be grateful."
                    

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