We're not lost, Sergeant, We're in … France


Du kannst zum Teufel gehen
23 December 2010, 15:35
Filed under: 101st, 327th, 401st, Battle of the Bulge, Medics | Tags: ,

A few years ago, while I was looking for information of Joseph H. “Bud” Harper, I found an interview in the St Petersburg Times of Ernie Premetz. During the Battle of the Bulge, Harper commanded the 327th Glider Infantry Regiment and when the Germans came to demand the surrender of Bastogne, they came into the 327th’s sector.

Everyone knows the basics of the story, about “Nuts”, but Ernie Premetz can say “I know what happened. I was there.” You see, Ernie was a medic at the time, and, based on his post-war profession, marine biologist, probably one of the smarter men standing in the snow on the 22nd of December. Ernie also spoke German, so when the two German officers and two German enlisted men approached American lines, Premetz walked out with a sergeant to find out what they wanted. After GEN McAuliffe responded “To the German Commander, NUTS!, The American Commander”, Harper was accompanied by Premetz to deliver the note to the Germans.

Needless to say, the Germans couldn’t quite figure out what it meant. To quote from Jeanne Malmgren’s interview with Premetz….

Harper and Premetz discussed how else to convey the message.

“You can tell them to take a flying s—,” Harper said to Premetz.

Premetz thought a minute. He knew he had to be clear.

He straightened up and faced the Germans.

“Du kannst zum Teufel gehen,” he said.

You can go to hell.

Those boys had some brass ones. If you talk to any veteran who was in Bastogne, Patton didn’t rescue them in Bastogne. They had the enemy right where they wanted them.

The Germans’ faces darkened.

“We will kill many Americans,” one of the officers said in English.

“We will kill many Germans,” Harper responded.



Replacement Medic heads into the Bulge
21 December 2010, 22:38
Filed under: 501st, Battle of the Bulge, Medics, Veterans | Tags: , ,

Being in the Battle of the Bulge was not easy. Being a paratrooper was not easy. Being a medic was not easy. Being a replacement was not easy. On 19 December 1944, Leon “Jed” Jedziniak, had all four of those challenges as a replacement medic in the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, going into his first fight. Eric Bradley wrote a great article about Jed in the Dialy Breeze out in Torrance, CA.

You tell people the story, Jedziniak said, and they don’t seem to understand.

That worries me. I know I’ll never quite understand because I’ve never been there, but as a military historian, I work to get as many of the stories as I can, in hopes that we can begin to understand.



Weekend Wanderings

I’m going to start accumulating the “best of the blogs” that I read each week and post them on Sunday for people to read.




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