Blogs by Edeltraud F. Fellendorf
WWII -- A SOLDIER RETURNS FROM PRISON
1/15/2010 4:51:22 PM
Anyone have a loved one that has served or is serving in Iraq or Afghanistan? If you do, Iím sure youíre familiar with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), especially if that person has served multiple tours in a combat zone. Before I retired from the military, I received a brief on PTSD. According to the speaker, studies conducted on U.S. WWII veterans showed that after a year of being exposed to a high stress combat environment, there were permanent visible changes in the brain.
Because of this study, troops in Vietnam were pulled out and sent home after a one-year tour. Today, that lesson has gone by the roadside as our Service men and women are sent back to Iraq and Afghanistan again and again, some on their fifth 15-month tour. But, I digress so let me get back on track...
Like our own WWII vets, German soldiers returning from war came home with horrific wounds, both physical and psychological. Those who survived Russian gulags returned in even worse shape. Mom didnít even recognize her own father when he returned home from a Russian gulag in 1947. His jet black hair was now all white stubble. Most of his beautiful white teeth were missing. He was skeletal. According to Mom, worst of all was the haunted dark look in his eyes. My Opa was extremely lucky to have survived at all, but he returned an empty husk.
Mom tells of his return home in her own words:
ďVati hardly spoke that first week. He sat alone in a chair in our living room, staring into space for hours, tormented by things he kept hidden from Muttie and me. It is difficult to talk with him. A few days later when we go shopping, I notice him always looking over his shoulder; still paranoid about when and where the next attack would come.
In the days to come, he tells us he was captured in Germany by the British, who turn him over to the Russians. The Russians then ship him to a prison camp in Siberia, where he struggles to survive for two years. There he labors for hours in the below freezing cold with barely anything to eat. Vati shares only one story of his prison camp. When a prisoner is caught stealing a piece of bread, fellow prisoners are quick to delve out justice by holding him upside down in a barrel they have used to relieve themselves. The man suffocates as he is drowned in feces and urine. We are told no more.Ē
Mom's father died two years later from TB he contracted in prison. Mom's Mother never remarried.
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