[December 25, 2019] December 1975 saw my U.S. Army company on the Inner German border. Our job was to repel a Communist attack into the West if it were to come. On Christmas Day of that year, we were on high alert and ready with a full load of ammunition, fuel, food, and all the necessary equipment to carry on a fight for at least three days. It was cold, wet, and miserable.
It is essential for all those who live in a free country to remember why this wall was built. Ostensibly built as an obstacle to NATO troops invading the “glorious homeland” of East Germany, it was, in truth, constructed to stop large-scale emigration of East German citizens to the West. This wall was a physical manifestation of Sir Winston Churchill’s metaphorical Iron Curtain that separated the capitalist and socialist economic systems.
Our commander told us that the border wall built by the East Germans was not to prevent us from attacking but to prevent them from leaving. For example, the tank traps were oriented in such a way that a tank traveling from East to West (its crew trying to escape) would be stopped but those going the other direction from West to East (attacking) could roll over it quickly. There was no wall, anti-tank ditches, minefields, etc. constructed by the West Germans or allies.
That is why we were there. If an attack was to occur, and it was more likely to happen on an important holiday like Christmas, we were there to be a tripwire for the Allied effort. Given the little equipment we had and the fact we were spread thin, no concentrated attack by the Soviet-bloc troops would be stopped for several days.
Sitting in our fighting positions on the border that Christmas day, we opened a few presents from relatives, had a hot meal for the first time in a week, and tried to stay warm. I remember no one complaining about being there. We knew our mission was necessary for a free Europe. It was not that we were “free,” so to speak, but that the Communist system was so repressive. We could see behind the wall and found the landscape gray and dull.
“Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.” – Winston Churchill
This time of year is the holiday season, and I would also like to extend my hand in friendship to everyone, everywhere that I’ve had the privilege to live and worship. My special Jewish friends are now celebrating Hanukkah and they too are in my prayers. Merry Christmas to all.