A large number of German Army staff had by now joined the team and it now constituted a large group.
We introduced ourselves and explained what we had done, been doing and our own experiences in country, and they were most appreciative of the assistance and information provided. Certainly all was very friendly and open and there was no German ‘stiffness’ or ‘correctness’ evident, quite relaxed really.
All the more impressive when in the conversation I learned that nearly half of the soldiers there were actually former East German army. This was an integrated force that had been sent and these guys and girls were still getting to learn how to work with each other, let alone work with the UN!
We toasted the fall of the Berlin Wall and the reunification of Germany, and I asked one of the officers from the former East German army, what he thought would really have happened in the event of a Warsaw Pact/NATO conflict.
He looked at me earnestly and said…’we hated the Russians, don’t forget what they did to Germany in 1945 and from then on all they did was poison the place, even when they left they made sure all the water was polluted by factories, equipment destroyed, stole everything…but we would never have turned our guns on our fellow Germans!’.
‘Their equipment was rubbish, the tanks were largely unserviceable, guns were inaccurate and nine times of out ten they couldn’t get the engines to start, so we would have had no problem getting around them’. There was a great deal of kamaraderie being exchanged and at one point I proposed a toast, noting as I had, that possibly the last time any Germans and Australians had been this close together it might have been in Tobruk in 1941!!.
“Ach so” said the Germans,
“Naturlich!.. the famous Australian Rats of Tobruk!”
“Yes” I said, and “So, here is a toast to the Deutsche Afrika Korps - ’Heia Safari!”
was the toast, the Germans were visibly moved and impressed with my knowledge of history!
I would like to think that the spirit of the great Desert Fox, Feldmarschall Rommel would have had a wry smile at this point!. . . then I said, “so, here we are in Africa, under the stars under camouflage nets, we should sing that famous song that belongs to all soldiers everywhere, Lili Marlene!” That was a highlight of that little session, singing Lili Marlene in Africa with the new German Army (and Navy).
Title: Not A Real War
Author: Paul Longley
Genre: Military / Historical / Biography
This book describes the experiences of the author whilst serving with the Australian Defence Force with the United Nations Mission to Somalia in 1993.
The author is a former Royal Australian Navy officer
Author Website: http://notarealwar.com/