Friendly Flippancy

“In here, you wait.” The krout says to me as he shuts the door with little regard for the amount of noise made.

So I’ll wait here then.

After all of the Gestapo show, why are they not summarily executing me, as is their policy?

No decorations adorn the room, occupied, as it were with simply a gun-metal chair, matching table, and worn walls of peeling plaster and paint.

Simply more interrogation? Seems unlikely. They could have simply kept me in that stale, and now bloody, room.

As I contemplate what’s changing in my situation to require a new room, the door behind me flings open.

Does no one care about sound in this place?

“Captain Wooldridge, it’s a pleasure to meet you!” a stern voice projects.

I turn to see who it is before freezing in place.

Can it be?

“Field Marshall, fancy this!” I reply.

“Yes, last we met, you were stopping me from taking Cairo. Now we are together in France.”

“Indeed. Here we are, as if fate has more in store for us.”

Was my effort at El Alemain reported back to the Germans in ‘42? Or, do they keep track of those who were awarded the Military Cross?

“It must, indeed. Can I get you anything.”

Get me anything? Is he kidding? Yeah, the hell out of France!

“Certainly, Field Marshall, a single ticket back to the UK, a pint of beer, a packet of cigarettes and a really good meal would be splendid.” I reply with a quip.

The Field Marshall eyes me up and down before responding “I’ll see what I can do.” He then leaves the room.

Within minutes I’m invited into an adjoining room where a waiter in a white coat sporting a bright red Nazi arm band, stands before a set table adorned with a stein of beer, a packet of cigarettes, and a bowl of steaming meat balls with potatoes and sauerkraut.

This is for real. They buttering me up for the big interrogation finish?

Rather than question my fate, I dive in, gulping down the beer and devouring the meal before attacking the cigarettes.

This is the way to be captured.

I owe this story to inspiration provided by Dirk DeKlein

Captain Roy Wooldridge- The British soldier saved by Field Marshall Rommel.

Captain Roy Wooldridge, who was in the Royal Engineers, was taken prisoner during a covert night-time mission to examine submerged mines along the French beaches weeks before the D-Day landings. Mr Wooldridge, who was twice awarded the Military Cross, was sent a telegram ordering him to report to his unit just three days after his wedding in 1944.he lieutenant, who was later promoted to captain, was sent to the French beaches with a colleague to ensure there were no mines which could blow up the boats during the D-Day landings. Due to the secretive nature of the mission, he was not wearing a uniform or carrying identification. Captured by the Nazis and treated as a spy, Captain Roy Wooldridge was told he must reveal all about his secret mission or be shot dead.Despite being grilled by the Gestapo, the British soldier refused to talk. Capt Wooldridge, a hero of the Battle of El Alamein two years earlier at which Rommel was defeated by the Allies, was stunned when he was presented to the high-ranking officer.hen Rommel asked if he needed anything, cheeky Roy replied: “A single ticket back to the UK, a pint of beer, a packet of cigarettes and a really good meal.”

To his astonishment, his wish was granted when he was ushered into Rommel’s mess where all three items were waiting for him, with the exception of the ticket back to the UK. He later recalled “I was taken to the officers’ mess, where a waiter in white dress adorned with a ­swastika gave me a jug of beer, a packet of cigarettes and a meal. From memory it was meatballs, or faggots, with potatoes and sauerkraut.” Capt Wooldridge ate the food, drank the stein of lager and smoked the German cigarettes, but kept the empty packet as a souvenir.hat empty cigarette packet featured on the BBC’s Antiques Roadshow on 23 November 2014.With Arms and Militaria specialist Graham Lay. Thanks to Rommel, he survived and was sent on to a prisoner of war camp, where he spent the rest of the war.

Captain Roy Wooldridge died in April 2017, aged 97.

This Idea Will Save Humanity

Coal and Steel were what divided France and Germany. Both wanted it, both had some of it, but not enough for either one. Therefore, among other things, they fought over Alsace-Lorraine, a region rich in the coal needed to produce steel. An ancient enmity realized in multiple wars cost countless lives. Through these wars, the main engines of Europe exhausted themselves. They could no longer maintain the capacity to fight. They simply ran out of people, resources, and the will to continue dying for simple material resources. Instead, along with Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Italy, they created the European Coal and Steel Community (ECSC) as a means by which to share these precious resources, building off of their shared capacity to build their respective economies. Once they started sharing these resources, and building their economies back up after the utter destruction of the two world wars, they realized the more they integrated their economies, the better they would all do. This wasn’t hope, it was proven fact. Through a long process the ECSC turned into the European Economic Community, then the European Community, and most recently, the European Union. From the humble start of a single authority for Coal and Steel, eventually the countries of Europe were able to create a better life and future for all their citizens by unifying their economies. They hit hurdles in terms of creating a unified banking system to support a common currency, a unified political system, and a unified foreign policy, and it was these hurdles which sowed the seeds of disenchantment with the European experiment in the minds of some within its borders.


The last one, the foreign policy, is where I came in. In 1997 I began my study abroad in Belgium to learn about the European Union, to understand its history, institutions, and potential promise for humanity. I became a fan of May 9 (Europe Day), the European Anthem, and Robert Schuman (some call him the father of Europe). I love the idea of subsidiarity, where decisions are made at the lowest-most appropriate level, and was enamored by the idea of proliferating the ideals of the European Union to other parts of the world. I have not lost this intent. In fact, as the EU struggles under the pressure of inequality, where the benefits of integration went to the upper classes at the expense of everyone else, we can realize the lessons from this integration to create even more powerful supranational institutions for the benefit of humanity in all parts of the world.


In 2000, I launched my Fulbright, studying how NATO and the EU could work together for the security of the Trans-Atlantic Community, and the world. As I witness our current president pulling away from our allies, and the EU’s challenges with Brexit, I can’t help but feel both saddened by what’s becoming of the inexpensive Russian influence operations to destabilize the United States, the UK, NATO, and the EU. At the same time, I can see the seeds of the EU still flourishing, and want to bring these back to Europe, take them abroad, and show the world how we can all prosper from opening our economies, our borders, and our economic systems to each other, hopefully without the need to go to war first.


Today I look out and see the need for a decision by all currently in power. Will we let our world descend into the chaos of another war, led by the powers of illiberalism on one side, and those remaining to support the rule of law, economic integration, and individual freedom, on the other? I do not want to see this war, but it really looks like it’s coming.


Whether or not we end up in another world war, what happens after is what offers me, and humanity, hope. If some collection of us survive, we will need each other more than ever to solve shared problems. We will need to be focused on results, rather than philosophies, enmities, and histories, in order to improve our lives. We will be able to learn from the past to ensure we distribute the benefits of integration to all in society, rather than those only at the top. We will know where some of the landmines are (ensuring we minimize the wealth gap), so we can avoid them in our effort to rebuild, renew, and rise again as a prosperous society in which children can once again have the promise fulfilled of having better lives than their parents. We can have this worldwide, and I look forward to helping bring it to reality. Who would like to help?


Rush

RUSH

Looking down from our He-59, I can see the coast of England forming up just this side of the horizon.

These English, so smug, so isolated, so close to defeat!

Why don’t they just give up?

On this second night of mine deployment in the Thames Estuary, we’re putting the noose around the necks of those plucky English.

They don’t even know what’s hittin’em.

Our pilot, Adelberg, banks left, turning the aircraft toward the coastline.

Yes, get us close to shore, they’ll never think of being attacked there!

READY TO ARM THE MINE, Kalen announces across the comms.

Lights from the ground staccato on-off, as if flashing us.

GROUND-FIRE, I announced on the comms.

Tracers streak past the plane.

A few rounds slice through the thin metal shell separating my body from the outside air.

WE’RE ALMOST THERE, GET READY. Adelberg announces.

More rounds slam into the side and bottom of the plane.

I’M HIT! Kalen screams.

Turning to see if I can help, I find Kalen curled up, clutching his left arm within his doubled over body.

I’ll have to drop it.

Kalen reaches up with his right arm, trying to stop me.

DROP IT! LET’S GET OUT OF HERE. Adelberg demands.

I pull Kalen out of the way, grabbing hold of the lever.

Kalen struggles, reaching toward my arm.

DROPPING IT, I announce as I pull the lever, releasing the mine into the water below.

In a shaky voice, Kalen mutters, No, not yet!

Is Kalen spooked?

“Kalen, are you alright?” I ask by turning toward him, avoiding the comms.

“It wasn’t armed yet.” He replies, a sense of insecurity in his voice.

I look at Kalen. He stares back at me in anger.

“Why didn’t you arm it?” I demand.

“I was about to when I got hit!” He retorts, teeth mashing together in an effort to deal with the pain.

This mission will have been for nothing.

“I don’t want to have been short for nothing!” Kalen declares, as if he read my mind.

“It’s not for nothing.” I reply. “At least we learned you cry like a baby.” I say as I take out the med kit.

“And you overreact!” He replies, smiling as he kicks me.

SHUT IT YOU TWO, Adelberg chimes in. WE’RE HEADING HOME.

In the early days of World War II a German secret weapon was wreaking havoc on British shipping. Many ships were disappearing en route. On occasion a ship would enter port with it’s keel broken. The British were desperate to figure out what was causing their ships spines to snap. On the night of November 22, 1939 a German He-59 Seaplane was on a mine-laying mission over the Thames Estuary near Shoeburyness when it came under intensive ground fire. In a hurry to unburden themselves and get away from the barrage, the Germans dropped their magnetic shipping mines too early, before they had the chance to arm the devices. Due to the tides at the time, one of the mines landed in mud, rather than under the water. The Royal Navy and Army explosive experts acted quickly, retrieving the mine, and sending it to HMS Vernon (a research facility) to find out its secrets. Through intensive efforts at disassembly, the British were able to find out how the mine worked, and thus, how it could be disabled. The British were lucky to find a solution to their shipping problem. The Germans assumed the British would surrender when enough of their shipping was lost. The British may have done so, if it weren’t for a few nervous crew on a seaplane who accidentally gave the secrets of Germany’s secret weapon to the British first. Sometimes in War a slam dunk victory can be given away in a freak flood of nerves by a few soldiers.