BRAUNFELS & WETZLAR
Our first stop after leaving Salzburg as best I can recall was Braunfels. Overlooking our bivouac was a castle on top of a hill. Our platoon took over a home to stay in for a time. The transfer to another division required us to remove our patches and sew on a new patch. It was like forcing us to change religions. Totally unacceptable to us. The third division patch became part of our DNA it seemed. However after many complaints were made, the command allowed us to wear two patches but the new one would have to take the place of the third Division patch. We complied. The third’s patch was on the other shoulder. We were being fed well. We knew our destiny now was to hit the beaches of Japan. The war there wasn’t yet over at this point in time. I was trying to figure out what I’d do with myself if I were to be shipped to the Pacific. Our ‘hitch’ was for the duration and six months. We hoped and prayed that the war with Japan would be over by the time we made it back to the States. We knew we were to be inoculated with about six shots. When I got mine I was really sick for days.
In this town, we had the privilege of using a community swimming pool. And like Forest Gump might have said, “I liked that”. We were bound by the fraternization ban however. Anyone caught talking to a civilian was fined several months in pay.
We were moved further on to WETZLAR the home of the factory making the best 35 mm cameras known to the world. The Leica. I wanted one dearly. I know I passed a lot of them on my way to here but we didn’t always have time to scrounge in the heat of a battle. Someone in the rear echelons was able to grab the goodies, after the fight was over.
The command chose another factory in Wetzlar where we were temporarily billeted. We situated our cots in the midst of looms in a linen factory. My records showed I had experience in High School in the photo field. Special services were seeking someone with my experience. I was given charge of “special Services” which included a photo shop in down town Wetzlar Germany. Lieutenant Rifkin came to me to ask if I’d like the job and I jumped at it. I finally got a job in the army I would like better-oops-I almost said than going home. Not so! I was to process film for the GIs .There were two others GIs to help including the Film shop owner KARL GEORTL, his daughter and two other German girls. All the girls were quite pretty. One memorable task was to make copies of several photos which were of special importance. It was my first view and actual knowledge of the holocaust. The photos were for Military Government use. I had to swipe some of them for my own. A few of them were shown worldwide. I’ll scan them in