06 June 2010

The last plane from Stalingrad

Before you read this post, please watch this little film clip from the German movie "Stalingrad." Start watching it at about 5:43. Then watch the first few moments of this second clip. (Be patient, I will explain). It is a convincing and accurate reconstruction of the last German plane escaping from Stalingrad.

Now I will tell you a funny story: Shortly after the last German was cleaned out of the Stalingrad pocket Charles De Gaulle visited the Soviet Union. He was given the grand tour of the battlefield. Everywhere he went there were remains of shattered German tanks and equipment. De Gaulle kept muttering "What a remarkable people!"

About the third or fourth time the general said this his Soviet translator couldn't take it any more and blurted out "Yes! The Soviet People ARE a remarkable people!"

"No," De Gaulle replied, "I mean the Germans. To have made it so far!"

Now come forward in time, to about 1983. I was at a faculty reception talking to a professor who was obviously American by voice and body language. In what passes for light chatter among historians we somehow got off on World War II. I tell him this story because I think it is funny.

He laughs slightly and says in a normal tone of voice, "You know, my father was evacuated from Stalingrad on the last airplane,"

I gape and stammer, which army was he in? "Oh, the German army."

I was born in 1949 and he was no more than three or four years older than me. If that soldier had not managed to get on that plane somehow I would have been talking to a different person that evening.


Labels: , , ,


At 28 June, 2010 03:40, Anonymous Felix said...

Presumably de Gaulle had more regard for Bonaparte than we normally think

At 29 September, 2011 16:47, Anonymous Onderhandse leningen said...

Lucky you father was on the last. I watched the movie and was thinking how realistic that scene was. And I still don'nt know..


Post a Comment

<< Home