When German Army Bombed Hitler’s Portrait
April 10, 1943: Certain Red Army units have started their own spring offensives in a war of nerves that has had some pretty ridiculous results.
Here’s what happened a few weeks ago on one sector of the front. The Red Army unit dug into this sector has been fighting the Germans for a long time. They were fairly familiar with a crack German regiment opposite them. It was a regiment of the Waffen-SS, Hitler’s personal troops.
One night a group of soldiers went out on a strategic clearing that formed the no-man’s-land between the two trenches and put up two poles. Between these two poles they stretched a canvas cartoon of Hitler—it was not complimentary to the Führer. Under the cartoon was written in German in large letters: “Shoot at me.” Then the unit waited until morning to see what would happen.
When the sun rose, they could hear loud discussions in the German trenches. Staff officers came to the trenches and had a look at the insulting cartoon through binoculars. But the Germans refused to obey the instructions to shoot at their own leader.
Before noon they opened an offensive to capture the cartoon. A detail of German soldiers was ordered to take the canvas down. This detail almost reached the cartoon of Hitler before they were wiped out. Another detail was sent. It too failed to get the cartoon. And then in the evening, German artillery all along the sector opened up on the Führer. All the German guns were concentrated on the spot. It took a fifteen minute concentrated barrage before the cartoon was blasted out of existence—which is one way of killing a dictator.
Right now the grandstand military experts are having a field day. (You can get a military plan of attack from a score of armchair generals at the drop of a hat.)
(There are plans for a Red Army offensive—there are people who say Hitler is going to do this and that—there are others who say Hitler is going to start mass bombing again.)
And any time you want, you can find Russians who will argue that there is not going to be a second front this year and why. Other Russians will argue just as violently that there will be a second front. It’s a favorite way of passing the time here.
But the feeling of the ordinary soldier is best expressed in a story from the front that I heard the other day. The Red Army men are getting a lot of American canned meat, and they like it. However, they don’t call it canned meat. When they get hungry, they say: “Come on Ivan, let’s open up a can of that Second Front.”