Wolfram The Boy Who Went to War

A colleague’s brother, Giles Milton, has just written an account, Wolfram,¬†of his German father-in-law’s remarkable wartime experiences. Thanks to a kind friend’s gift (thank you, PC!), I have just finished the book and would recommend it to anybody seeking an impression of how the last war was lived by young Germans and middle Germany (if I may call it that). A budding sculptor and son of an eccentric artist, Wolfram was too young fully to comprehend the way in which the Nazis’ ideological grip fast turned to a murderous stranglehold in his home town of Pforzheim, but he could not help but notice the book-burning and the increasingly violent anti-semitism and its results. He was certainly constantly aware of the moral dilemmas his liberal parents and their friends faced, where even minor acts of defiance resulted in major retribution. Though they managed always to avoid becoming party members, the shadows approached… And then the young Wolfram was conscripted into the Reich Labour Service and sent to the Eastern Front. A close shave with death (from diptheria) in the Crimea enabled him to avoid the certain death of his friends and contemporaries at Stalingrad. After a lengthy convalescence, he was sent to the Western Front, to Normandy, just before the Allies landed. After surviving several terrifying aerial bombardments he was caught and sent to the UK and then the US, where he saw out the rest of the war as a prisoner. All contact with his family was lost. Meanwhile, on 23 February 1945 an allied incendiary bombing raid on Pforzheim destroyed some 86% of the town and killed 17,000 inhabitants… There are object lessons in these experiences that we Europeans must surely not forget!

1 Comment

  1. Hugo Kijne

    16/04/2012 at 17:01

    Maybe he worked on the Robert Trent Jones golf course at West Point that was built by German prisoners of war in 1944 so that Eisenhower and McArthur could get some playing time. It has the best website of all golf courses I know, which loads slowly, but you’ll understand why: http://www.westpointmwr.com/golf/

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