Saturday, February 25, 2006

Dale Carnegie's "Pursuit of Happiness" courtesy of Stalag XVIII

Photo shows: Montage of Hoentauern, site of our Road Block and Stalag XVIII

I have already written about “Life in Wartime Austria”, see (A2545517), but, as always, something that another veteran has just posted sparked off a memory and I went back to my Diaries to check a date.

I see that at the end of July ’44 I was again being called upon to act as interpreter for Lt. “Dutch” Holland and on this occasion we were paying a visit to what had been a small German Stalag ,or POW camp, that had previously held British Prisoners of War. It was very spooky going into the wooden huts that had been the cramped living accommodation for these poor blighters and the place still reeked of German carbolic powder.

My diary reads:

Monday 30th July 1945
Taken off fatigues to do interpreter for Lt.”Dutch” Holland. Out in the dingo to the end of the boundary area. Crashed plane on hillside. Beer at roadside Gasthos at dinnertime
Regimental Diaries:

Tuesday 31st July 1945
Rgt. ceasing to be under command of 78th Div (Now under 6th Armd Div). Out with “Dutch” again, this time to the Burgomaster at Hohentaun. Collected three crates of books from ex-Stalag XVIII. Back early for Road Block guard. Truck broke down.

Among the books that we collected from this camp were a lot of paperbacks provided by the International Red Cross with their bold Red Cross Emblem stamped on the inner cover.
A summary glance at the books before we handed them over to the British Authorities revealed a copy of Dale Carnegie’s “Pursuit of Happiness”.
I “liberated” this book, it provided me with some quiet reading and a little moral support for the rest of my time in the Army and I took it with me into civvie-street.

In 1949 I realised that with my marriage to Nita I had achieved what I had sub-consciously been seeking for most of my adult life and the book seemed to miraculously disappear from my bookshelves!

In 2005 I still havn't felt the need to buy a replacement copy !

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