It is December 15, 1944. Your company of 250 men, the farthest division advanced in Germany, has just captured Kesternich. Early dawn of the very next day, the town is lit up by large klieg lights as an entire tank division comes pouring into the town. The rumble of machines shakes the ground beneath you and creates a sound so powerful that it seems as though the Earth is splitting into two.
You are in the basement of a small house when a tank stops right outside the window.The .88 gun of the Panzer tank points directly at the window, forcing you and a handful of other terrified soldiers to surrender. At this point, there are only 50 of you left.
Barely able to walk, being so weighed down with fear, you are all marched to a school house and lined up by a German Prisoner of War lieutenant. This man, for whom you feel nothing but hatred, walks up and down the line of men, and out of everyone else, points to you. The lieutenant accuses you of having shot German prisoners. You are pulled out of the line and taken by truck to Bonn Prison Camp.
You are still only 19 years old and instead of running around a college campus, you are put in solitary confinement. The cell is smaller than a closet and has only one tiny door. You have no overcoat and nothing to shield you from the cold. You see no one for six weeks and your only nutritional in-take consists of Ersatz bread. Because the Germans do not have enough whea...
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...n, longing for the secure arms of your mother. You smile at her and almost collapse as she walks right by you, unable to recognize you due to your condition....
Pain does not end just because the war did. Everyday is a reminder of being a 19-year-old
prisoner of war. After seeing such an evil side of man, it is amazing that you even find a way to greet each day.
This is the story of my grandfather, Arthur Rubenstein. It was once said that “It takes twenty years or more of peace to make a man; it takes only twenty seconds of war to destroy him.” This war is a story my Grandfather kept silent about for many years, and as amazing as it is to hear what happened, it is just as much an honor to hear him be able and willing to tell it. The soldiers and victims of World War II should never be forgotten, for the price of freedom should never be as great as it was.
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