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Personal Encounter With Nazi SS Officer: Friedrich Engel
A Chance Encounter
In my earlier years, my husband, and I were stationed at Sembach Air Base, a little site located not too far from the town of Kaiserslautern, Germany. Every so often, I had the chance to take leave, and go back home to visit family in Alaska. On one such occasion, I had a very unusual experience, and to this day, I find quite fascinating because little did I know who or what I was dealing with on that fateful day.
The flight from Germany all the way to Fairbanks, Alaska is quite long and taxing. Nearly eighteen hours of flight. You switch planes so many times that you become numb, actually quite literally blind to the strangers sitting right beside you. All you want to do is escape your cramped seat, and finish the flight.
As I recall, the last leg of my flight from Seattle to Anchorage was about four hours long. While in flight, an elderly gentleman who had been sitting beside me for the past few hours suddenly started choking on his dinner. Alarmed, I reached over and started to pat his back. A moment after his recovery, he nodded at me and then thanked me. Of course, I immediately noticed his German accent, and so naturally, I asked him about his nationality. When he replied that he was indeed originally from Germany, I became even more curious, and so I introduced myself. He was kind enough to tell me that his name was Frederick and that he was traveling from a visit in South America and on his way to visit family members who lived in Anchorage. When he told me, this there was a sudden alarm that went off in my mind. In the past, I had seen a documentary about German soldiers who fled for South America in an attempt to escape the Nuremberg Trials. Was Frederick was one of these Nazis who were on the run.
I asked him.
A Young Friedrich Engel
A Discreet Conversation
"Did you serve in the German Army during the World War?"
"I did.” He replied.
"You mean Hitler's Army, right?"
Frederick stared at me for a long moment and then nodded his head with a solid reply. "Yes."
"So what did you do in the Army?"
"I was an officer.” He replied. "They called me the Butcher of Genoa."
At that moment, my mind confirmed what I had been thinking. Indeed, I was sitting next to a Nazi who might very well be on the lam. I knew I had no reason to be frightened. After all, I guessed he was an old man mid-way in his seventies, and he seemed rather docile in nature, not at all an international war criminal. So there I sat next to the enemy. Of course, I really didn't see him as an enemy. Perhaps an enemy to the Jew, yet strangely I have to admit that I didn't feel any grudge towards this man. How could I? I did not live in that time, nor could I pass judgment on something that I knew very little of. I decided to find out for myself about this man named Frederick, the German Nazi officer.
"Why did they call you that?"
"They claim that I killed a bunch of Italians ... partisans.” He murmured. Shaking his head, he finished with a definite resonance in his voice. "I didn't kill anyone."
Wisely, I remained silent while soaking in this incredible information.
"It was not my decision.” He continued. "As a soldier, sometimes you endure things whether you like it or not."
"Did you have regrets?” I asked.
"Of course I have regrets. “ He replied. "But my position gave me little choice but to follow orders. If not, there are many repercussions. Like you, we Germans have families, and loved ones whom we wanted to protect."
Nodding my head, I understood his point of view.
I not sure if Mr. Engel had been pulling my leg or not about Furer's existence after the war, but there has been a recent approach about a Hitler and Evan Braun supposedly surviving the war, and living to a very old age in South America and Indonesia ...
- Hitler Lived In Argentina After The War | The Friggin Loon
A new book about to be released is claiming Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun didn’t commit suicide in a German bunker in 1945 like they would have us believe.
- Unique Explorer
Adolf Hitler, German dictator and the people believed responsible for the massacre of the Jews, allegedly spent the end of his life in Indonesia.
A Slight Omission
"So did you ever get to meet Hitler?"
"I did once at a field parade.” He returned with a hint of pride in his voice. "Hitler pointed at me and made a comment to my commanding officer that I would make a fine commander one day."
At this point, I don't even think he was aware of my presence anymore. He seemed far away as he looked forward while remembering a humorous experience he then changed the subject.
"There was this bank in Milan. The rumor going around was that it was filled with gold.” He began with a wry smile. "We spent all day trying to break into that vault. Finally, we got smart enough to wire some dynamite to the vault and blew the doors open. Do you know what we found inside that vault?"
He waited patiently for me to respond.
"What did you find?"
"Well, there wasn't any gold.” He laughed. "And all that we found was a woman's brazier hanging from the end of a broomstick."
For the rest of the flight, Frederick continued to tell me about the war.
I asked him about his position on the Jews, and how he felt about the mass extermination. His response was that he was very young, and at that time very proud to be German, and that sometimes young people make wrong decisions, which later on in life come back to haunt them.
Just before the plane landed, he gave me a sidelong conspirator look.
"I will tell you something else.” He leaned in closer. "Hitler didn't die during the war."
"What are you saying?"
"The body they found was not his body, but one of his bodyguards.” Frederick enlightened. "He lived out the rest of his life as a yeoman farmer in a small town right beneath the very nose of the authorities.”
"How is that possible?"
"Everyone believed him dead.” Frederick returned. "So no one really pursued or questioned his existence."
"How do you know that?” I asked almost incredulously. Frederick only smiled at me and shook his head.
"Some things are better left unsaid."
Nearly seventy years have passed since the incredible atrocities of World War II. Yet in this day and age, there are very few people living today who remember the unspeakable horrors of the Holocaust, the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor, or the atomic destruction upon Hiroshima. Most of us had relied on hand me down stories, school textbooks, internet and television documentaries to educate the newer generations about a time when the great Axis of Evil tore the world apart.
As a babe born during the freedom-loving revolution of the sixties, I too am one of the many who've read about the horrible deeds committed against humanity during that climatic time. Though I was not alive during these important annals of our world's history, I've tried to keep an open mind while examining the entire spectrum with an objective train of thought rather than feeling subjective to something that I've never actually experienced.
The near extermination of the Jews was an inhumane injustice spearheaded by an evil leader. No one can deny this fact. Even still, as a non-biased outsider, I believe the world may pass judgment on a misguided collaboration, but to scrutinize an individual for the brutality of the collective whole is unjust if we do not examine the reasoning behind each individual in question. At one time or another, every one of us has made a mistake of some sort, and some even more than others might deem. However, I believe that one man's mistake is another man's folly once he passes judgment when he knows nothing about that man's heart.
In light of Friedrich Engel's guilt, I for one could not pass judgment on the man. I met him as a stranger, and found him altogether pleasant, composed, and believe it or not, quite humble. Based on what the gentleman discreetly shared with me, I would like to say that he is not guilty of mass murder; at least not in the physical sense. However, given the fact that he was the commanding SS officer in Genoa at that time, whether he knew of the murderous atrocity or not, guilt must fall upon somebody's shoulders, and, unfortunately, Engel was the highest level of authority associated with that area at that time, and as tried, the German courts found the man guilty.
We all know the old saying "War is Hell,” and we also know that there are always good and bad soldiers caught up in strife. I honestly believe that Friedrich Engel was a good man caught up in a bad situation completely out of his control, and he like so many other Germans were puppets in a Hellish theatre orchestrated by an evil puppet master who used every means to control and dictate the fate of a misguided country.
To those of you, who read about my personal experience with a German Nazi, do not think for one moment that I do not sympathize with the tragedy of the Jewish community. What happened to these people was unspeakable, and in my opinion unforgivable. Every one of us must stand amidst judgment once we are finished with this world. Not until many years later did I find out about the death of Friedrich Engel. He died in 2006 while under trial for a crime he may or may not have committed. By now, the Supreme Being, the omnipotent creator has passed his judgment, and that word is final.
War Crimes Against the Jews
Determination and investigation into Nazi War Crimes Against the Jewish Nation
- Germany still hunting down Nazi war criminals-DAWN - International; June 19, 2002
- Former Nazi Convicted of Ordering Executions - New York Times
In what could be one of Germany's last trials of Nazis, a Hamburg court today sentenced a former SS officer to seven years in prison for ordering the killing of 59 Italian prisoners in 1944.The
- USATODAY.com - Ex-SS officer convicted in World War II massacre
Ex-SS officer convicted in World War II massacre HAMBURG, Germany (AP) Former SS Maj. Friedrich Engel was convicted Friday of 59 counts of murder for a World War II massacre of Italian prisoners and sentenced to seven years in prison, ending...
- Nazi 'Butcher of Genoa' dies without going to jail | World news | The Guardian
Friedrich Engel, a former Nazi SS officer linked to the massacre of Italian prisoners in the second world war, has died at the age of 97.
German Interview with Engel
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