[Annotator's Note: Winnecken Gerhard speaks largely in German in this segment with very limited translation to English provided.]
Winnecken Gerhard was sent to Normandy around 15 May 1944, only a few weeks prior to the D-Day invasion [Annotator's Note: on 6 June 1944]. He returned in 1996 for a reunion of his fellow soldiers. [Annotator's Note: Gerhard's related discussion in German was not always translated.] He returned to the farm where he was captured. His troop only had limited weaponry to face the Allied troops. He was captured on Saturday, 10 June 1944. His regimental major had a Knight's Cross. There was a German General named Falley who was killed at Chateaux Haut early in the combat [Annotator's Note: paratroopers of the 82nd Airborne Division ambushed German General Wilhelm Falley on the mornig of D-Day]. Gerhard participated in the action as the tenth member of a German squad. Most of the men were killed in action. [Annotator's Note: ongoing conversation in German then indiscernible conversation with the video view disrupted before corrections were made. Interview continuation involves discussion in German with limited English concerning the 90th Infantry Division and their need to capture and interrogate a German prisoner. Further discussion continues in a mixture of the German and English languages.] Gerhard was a corporal in the Wehrmacht's 1057th Regiment [Annotator's Note: 1057th Grenadier Regiment, 344th Infantry Division]. The German and American troops were all mixed together during the combat. Questioned by the Americans, Gerhard could answer very few of the inquiries about panzer units or the command structure of his battalion. He did know that the major commanding the battalion had been stabbed by one of his lieutenants over an argument concerning a girl to whom they both were attracted. [Annotator's Note: Further discussions with humor in German.] The new commanders for the battalion were not first class officers. Some were killed in action resulting in Gerhard taking command of 30 men. Just one week later, the 30 man command had been reduced to seven men. They had no bazookas or Panzerfausts [Annotator's Note: the Panzerfaust was a disposable German shoulder-fired anti-tank weapon]. The men under Gerhard were all captured. The German troops had both a summer and a winter uniform. They had clean shirts. They had a cap to wear. [Annotator's Note: Gerhard indicates that the Americans had a helmet]. His boots varied but they were second class footwear. He also wore French shoes that were not very good.
Winnecken Gerhard was in Russia for some months as a replacement in the Sixth Army. That Army was eventually destroyed at Stalingrad. Everything was lost by the spring of 1943. Gerhard served as a dispatch rider on horseback. He did not fight in battle. Some of the horses came from Poland and some from Russia. He carried orders from division and battalion while being a mounted rider. Motorcycles were not effective because of the rain and roads. It was necessary to look for partisans by riding on the perimeter of the vehicles. The Tiger tanks rode out forward with the other vehicles used to carry fuel. The horse riders searched for partisans.
Winnecken Gerhard joined the German Army in October 1942. His camp was at Verdun near Metz. Verdun was a walled city and was the site of a heavy battle [Annotator's Note: during World War 1]. Gerhard was born in June 1924 in Ingelheim, which is a small town on the Rhine River between Mainz and Koblenz. The town is known for its red wine. Gerhard grew up in Bonn. His father was in the pharmaceutical business. When the war began, his father went to work for the Wehrmacht making explosives. Like 95 percent of the German youth, Gerhard was a member of the Hitler Youth. There were long marches. The youth worked on farms and learned to shoot .22 caliber weapons. From ten to 14 years of age, young people would join the Young Folk. The older teenagers from 14 to 18 years of age were in the Hitler Youth. Gerhardt had a rifle for hunting. He also retained a rifle even though it was forbidden after the war. He used it to hunt wild boar [Annotator's Note: a Mauser rifle is brought into view].
Winnecken Gerhard was captured by the Americans. He still had a rifle grenade in his pocket after being searched. He disposed of it rather than be found with it on him. Gerhard speaks of a staff sergeant named Newell Ulrich [Annotator's Note: unsure of spelling]. The sergeant never became an officer because he would have trouble, even fights, with officers resulting in three days in prison. He was a soldier in the Oklahoma and Texas 90th Infantry Division before the war started. Gerhard was sent to the United States by way of England. He departed France on a sunny day in July [Annotator's Note: July 1944] on a small ship that had brought troops from England to the continent. After arrival at Southampton, he has sent to a camp at a former horse track in London. A few days later, the prisoners were sent by rail to Stirling in Scotland. The Germans observed girls with red finger nails and cigarettes while on the journey. That was not possible in Germany. He was told by an older man that the country was free. He further explained that there was no Gestapo, but there was Secret Service. In Stirling, the prisoners were sent to a camp with stone walls that had been intended to contain cattle. The Germans were then sent to Glasgow and joined more PWs [Annotator's Note: prisoners of war]. They boarded the Queen Mary for the trip to the United States. There were 2,000 to 3,000 PWs on the ship. There were also American soldiers onboard the ship who had refused to fight in the war. The Queen Mary was the best ship with the Normandie being the second best ship. The dirty jobs in the camps were given to the soldiers who refused to fight, not the PWs. PWs were forbidden to talk with them but they used Morse Code to communicate [Annotator's Note: Gerhard signals as if talking in Morse Code]. One man who refused to fight talked about the terrible flak he saw over Germany. Gerhard worked on a tobacco farm, at a dairy, and in a corn field. Ten PWs required five guards at first. Later, it became one guard for many PWs. Ultimately, there might be no guards posted over the PWs. The PWs would engage in painting houses and other structures at the end of the war. The prisoners would fight over the good jobs. At the interrogation center, the PWs were asked about the level of support for the Nazis. A man would be judged to be a super Nazi, or a Nazi or an anti-Nazi. [Annotator's Note: Gerhard speaks in German about the Waffen-SS with their blood type tattooed on their left arm. This was a common method to identify SS men after the war. He goes on to explain that some of the tattoos were removed by German and American doctors in the PW camp in Maryland.] Six PWs stayed in one tent. It was very cold during the winter. [Annotator's Note: Further humorous discussion in German by Gerhard involves a man who had his blood type branded on his posterior.] Gerhard stayed at Fort Meade for two and a half years. He was at Fort Dix, New Jersey for a few weeks. He was also in the mountains of Pennsylvania at the Interrogation Center in Carlisle Barracks. He saluted the German officers while in captivity differently as the war progressed.
Winnecken Gerhard returned to his homeland after the war. He sailed on a Liberty Ship which took much longer than his voyage to the United States on the Queen Mary after his capture. The sleeping arrangements were very cramped. He experienced some of the racial tensions onboard the ship when the black women working in the laundry were mocked for their interest in the POWs [Annotator's Note: prisoner of war]. Gerhard speaks of a widow's sorrow about loss of her loved ones in the war. [Annotator's Note: Much of the discussion is in German with limited English translation.]
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