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Peace on Earth by Rosemary Kiss

It was 1945, a year filled with fear, hunger and suffering; but also hope! World War II had ground to an ignominious end for Germany, only seven short months ago. We, the vanquished living in Bavaria, in the southern part of Germany were incredibly fortunate to be occupied by the most merciful and generous of the Allied Forces, namely the U.S. Army.

Survival was the only important issue in those days! There was neither food, nor clothes, nor coal for heat. The Black Market was thriving and times were bleak.

Our little town of 5,000 escaped the worst, but many of the fathers, the breadwinners, were missing; either dead or prisoners of war. There was not much to look forward to for Christmas, 1945.

But as for children everywhere, the occupation provoked lots of interest.  Probably none of us had ever seen a person of color, except in storybooks. The G.I.s stationed in our town had soft hearts. They looked at us skinny little rag-a-muffins with tender care and soon one could see a little line form everyday for candy or snacks or even that most incredible white Wonder bread that none of us had ever seen before.

Our landlord's home adjacent to our little mom-and-pop store, had been made Staff Headquarters. And that is were this story truly begins:

Our family had lived in Chicago during the Great Depression.  Without any family support and suffering unemployment for long periods of time, our parents decided to return to Germany before the war. Four of us were U.S. citizens. My mother only had remained a German citizen. No need to describe what it was like to live in Nazi Germany as Americans, and therefore, the enemy.

Christmas was just around the corner that year. My father, quite a sociable man, spoke English fluently and got acquainted with one of the MPs stationed next door, guarding headquarters. He seemed a lonely young man, eager to speak his native language with someone. What a surprise for both of them to find out they shared a common history of having lived in Chicago.

Spontaneously, our Dad, with his heart of gold, extended an invitation  to this young soldier to join us for our traditional Christmas Eve family celebration. We, the children had mixed feelings about a stranger joining us at that most intimate feast in German tradition.

Christmas Eve arrived and our curiosity was pricked, would he show up or not? Sure enough, at dusk this young man knocked on our door in full uniform. He carried a large round red tin can. We all wondered what could be in that lovely box.

Our mother went strictly with the program at hand. First, the gospel reading of the Christmas story, then the singing of Silent Night, Holy Night and then the presents, if there were any to be had. I remember it well that my only doll would mysteriously disappear before Christmas and then reappear on Christmas Eve with a brand new wardrobe sewn from scraps by a kindly neighbor.

After sharing our meager post war treats, Weisswurst and potato salad, the tin was finally opened to reveal the most luscious looking pineapple whipped cream cake. None of us children had ever seen anything so luxurious. To taste it was to die and go to heaven!

I don't think this young soldier realized what an incredible kindness he did to us that night. Truly, it was the most meaningful Christmas I can remember. It was not only memorable because of the cake, but for the willingness of this young man to trust us and no longer see an enemy in us.

Wherever you are Thomas Lacey of the southside of Chicago, Merry Christmas! One little girl, now an elderly woman, thanks you from the bottom of her heart and has never forgotten your kindness.

.....this story was read at a Christmas program on December 1, 2004

Originally Posted by: Josephine on Friday, February 04, 2005 - 03:30 AM (176 Reads)

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