They slept with their heads just a few feet from the hole. On November 19, the contractors were drinking coffee as usual when their boss arrived. On the radio, he heard that the city had stopped the trains running over the canal. The KMBD was defusing a bomb. The streets around the house were sealed off. He was walking with Rocky in the forest a mile away when he heard the explosion. Two hours later, when the all-clear siren sounded, Dietrich drove over to his place with a friend and his son.
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He could barely speak. Where his house had once stood was a crater more than 60 feet across, filled with water and scorched debris. Dietrich wiped away tears. He was less than a year from retirement. Early one morning at the headquarters of the Brandenburg KMBD in Zossen, Reinhardt swept his hand slowly across a display case in his spartan, linoleum-floored office. These are Russian ones, these are English ones.
These are mine fuses. At 63, Reinhardt was in the last few days of his career in bomb disposal and looking forward to gardening, collecting stamps and playing with his grandchildren. Sallow and world-weary, he said it was impossible to tell how long it would take to clear Germany of unexploded ordnance. We have to look directly underneath the houses. Late the following day, as the wet wind slapped viciously at the plastic roof overhead, I sat with Paule Dietrich in what had been his carport. A few feet of grass separated it from the spot where his house once stood.
The bomb crater had been filled in, and Dietrich was living there in a mobile home.
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He kept the carport for entertaining, and had equipped it with a fridge, a shower and furniture donated by friends and supporters from Oranienburg, where he has become a minor celebrity. Sitting at a small table, Dietrich chain-smoked Chesterfields and drank instant coffee. He produced an orange binder filled with photographs of his former home: as it was when he bought it; when he and his colleagues were decorating it; and, finally, as it was after the bomb had reached the end of its year fuse. Dietrich said he realized that he and his family had been lucky: Every summer, his grandchildren had played in a plastic pool near where the bomb had been lying; at night, they slept in a mobile home beside the pool.
By the time we met, Dietrich had been offered scant financial compensation by the authorities—technically, the federal government was required to pay only for damage caused by German-made munitions. But among a pile of documents and newspaper clippings he had in the binder was a rendering of the new home he wanted to build on the site. It had once been the best prefabricated bungalow available in East Germany, he said, and a contractor in Falkensee had given him all the components of one, except for the roof. Outside, in the afternoon gloaming, he showed me why.
In the grass at the bottom of the embankment of Lehnitzstrasse was a patch of sandy ground. Men from the city had recently marked it with two painted stakes. Paule Dietrich had two more unexploded American bombs at the end of his yard. Subscribe or Give a Gift. Sign up. SmartNews History. History Archaeology. World History. Science Age of Humans. Future of Space Exploration. Human Behavior.
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May 14, PM. It is essentially a bomber pilot's story, but it also tells of grinding operational pressure, the brotherhood of the crew, and their abiding fears of injury and death. From the Pilot: For a few brief months in the spring of my life I flew bombers against the defences of Germany. Partly through good training and hard work but mostly through luck, I survived.
Many whom I knew were not so fortunate.
But we all lived in vital and exhilarating times, the memory of which still seems too important and relevant to be lost with the passing of our generation. My book is an attempt to fix my own memories. I have tried to convey how we, as aircrew, experienced war, how we lived and how we flew.
Hear, O Israel, Save Us
I have tried to communicate the sense of adventure and comradeship. I hope the reader will be entertained and, from time to time, amused. But most of all I hope you will come to the end of "Luck and a Lancaster" with a true and greater understanding of we who served in Bomber Command during those momentous years. More than 56, British and Commonwealth aircrew and , Germans died in the course of the RAF's attempt to win the war by bombing. The struggle began in with a few score primitive Whitleys, Hampdens and Wellingtons, and ended six years later with 1, Lancasters, Halifaxes and Mosquitoes razing whole cities in a single night.
Max Hastings traced the developments of area bombing using a wealth of documents, letters, diaries and interviews with key surviving witnesses. Bomber Command is his classic account of one of the most controversial struggles of the war. It is a relief as well as a revelation not to have to read another romanticized "Boy's Own" version of the war. The book derives its title from British Air Marshall "Bomber" Harris's phrase, "They sowed the wind and now they are going to reap the whirlwind," which, in turn, comes from Hosea Harris's passion, which led him to order the bombing of civilian targets in Germany, also earned him the nickname "Butcher.
The crews' fear was obviously justified when we consider that of the 5, Canadians on the bombers, almost 75 per cent of them died. But the stories of bravery and survival are mystifying and miraculous.