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How It Happened
By Michael Librach
Copyright 2001 Michael Librach
An essay about the writer's true experiences during World War II, trying to escape German soldiers.


The day is stuck in my memory. It was June 1940.We have been fighting for days.With my 75 millimeter gun we were a part of a Polish battery in the French army. We were located in one of the breaks in the Maginot Line, supposedly supporting some Senegalese infantry units

The day before, we have found ourselves firing our canon at the German infantry, there was no one in front of us. The Senegalese disappeared. We continued to fire. Our horses were harnessed  and ready to run. We were shooting, until the day gave way to night, we could relax somewhat

The next day rose beautifully. The sun shining on the hills of Lorraine. Our captain gathered us to talk. We were standing there in a circle before him, our short rifles hung on our shoulders. " We have been surrounded" said the captain. " All I can suggest to you is to just drop your arms here, and try to walk south. There might still be some openings and you could reach the southern areas of France, where hopefully we shall reform our army"

Well, this was pretty far removed from our dreams of defeating the Germans and walking back into Poland to rescue our Motherland. A mother which in truth did not like us very much, but even a bad mother is a mother nevertheless.

We were very tired. For days on end, we had kept fighting and moving from place to place - often to the jeers of the French who had abandoned their arms  "didn’t you have enough of war in your own country, you had to come here to endanger us all?"

Now we felt left dangling by our own command. We were supposed to find those openings on our own, just " by walking south", without maps, without sending out some patrols - not very military. With some friends of mine, we started walking. We were six of us, not very much of military strategists, just walking without even trying to be invisible.
We knew that the Germans were all around us.Even so we were strung in line, on top of a hill, moving at a slow pace.

Suddenly, down the hill from us, we heard the words " par ici" " this way. A French soldier shouted to us. Standing there, unarmed, in front of a large bush, he motioned to us to come that way. Finally someone to show us the way between the German lines.

We started running towards him. As we got close, the bush opened with  0 Germans manning a big machine gun.

After some miracles helped me to escape the German hands in 1939, here I was back their prisoner in June 1940