Pawns of the King

Pawns of the King – Copyright © 2011 – R. H. Politz

At a hotel casino VIP dinner party, I was looking for an available seat when I spotted an elderly man alone in a booth. He was a regular, a person who rarely said anything, avoiding most people and whiling away a few hours playing some of the thousands of slot machines spread out across the expansive casino floor. When he ordered a drink, I noticed his accent and asked, in my feeble attempt at the German language, if I could join him for dinner. He smiled. I sat. We ate and he told me of his past. Unusual for him I later found out but for some reason, we struck a chord of trust.

At the ripe old age of eighteen, Otto became a German Luftwaffe pilot. That’s right, Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany, (1939) a pilot who flew into Poland and dropped bombs. To hear WWII stories from the source was captivating and quite different than that written in American history books. Picture the situation from an average Nazi soldier’s point of view. Otto and many of his colleagues were against Hitler’s war plans –– “It made no sense!” he exclaimed –– but…, they were under military orders and anyone who challenged those orders was summarily eliminated.

He and his friend talked of escaping the Third Reich’s iron fist by defecting to England. Although they spoke in secret, they were soon transferred to the eastern front to bomb Russian troops and military assets in preparation for the German infantry invasion. Many of the pilots found it disgusting and wrong to kill those who were merely protecting their own country from outside attack so some, including Otto, would “accidently overshoot” the human concentrations targeting their bombs into the forest past the Russian soldiers. Was this treason? Did their actions cause additional casualties of their own countrymen? Unknown but he lived with that terrible thought for many years.

There is a reunion of sorts each year in San Francisco where two German, one Japanese, one Brit and two American pilots gather. During “World War Two”, they were enemies. Not because they hated each other for some unforgivable action but because their respective government leaders ordered it. Such is the reason for all wars. The few in power decide when and how to spend the pawns to further their agenda. But, that’s another story for another time.

Otto may not make it to another reunion. The last time I saw him he was moving slowly with the aid of a walker and looking very much like a man near his end.

When the “enemy” shoots at you or you see your friend’s head blown off, you don’t think of who put you and your “enemy” into that battle. You don’t think of why you’re in a war, instead, you react to your training, eliminate the threat and try to survive.

Today, as I watch the Egyptian people riot in protest, I wonder, who has decided to begin our next war?



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