Manuscripts/Mixed Material Interview with Henry Bardach
BARDACH: Not really, no. I think we had an understanding and camaraderie. There are so many people. This is the nature of our country; we are a country of immigrants, so there were quite a few immigrants in the military, and we were all part of it. No, never had that feeling at all. There is a famous incident that I should mention here which is when I was about 20 days into Normandy. We had a group of prisoners, three or four of them. It was usually two of us that would interrogate them. The prisoners had a way of showing what they had on them, you know, documents that they had on them, how well educated they were or whatever. Here was this one young kid, a little younger than I was. I think he was maybe about 18 years old. I saw his ID and I asked him I see you are from Dusseldorf. He said yes. We chatted a little bit, and I think he could tell from my questions that I knew quite a bit about Dusseldorf. He said, here, I have my school certificate with me with my last grades, my graduation certificate with the courses I took with my last grades. He handed it to me and what did it say, Prince Georg Gymnasium, the same school where I had been. The teachers, the names were all spelled out. Many of those teachers I still remembered very well, and I started talking about them. This is Professor Muller. Is he still the grouchy old fellow. And this fellow here you know, he was a tough grader, he graded tough. This fellow, he began to shiver and shake, he said what's going on here? He would have given his family away to me. He answered all the questions that I wanted to know. I eventually told him that I knew this place quite well. I didn't tell him that I had been there.
Q: He just thought our intelligence was so good.
BARDACH: Isn't that a good story.
Q: Were you in contact with the Soviet Army when you were there?
BARDACH: Little. Yes I was. I remember we were told that if we saw any of them we could speak to them and try to be nice to them and friendly. The problem was that the Soviet military were highly suspicious, and I think they had been told, of course it was a completely different atmosphere for them, they had been told not to go overboard in being too terribly friendly. I remember that I met this one fellow that I talked to. He was from Moscow, and I think he had been a teacher. I did talk with him, and I recall that the only way I could communicate with him was in German; many Russians do speak some German, so I was able to communicate with him. I think we even exchanged addresses or so, maybe after the war I can look you up or something like that, and he gave me his name and address. Nothing ever came of this of course. They were very cautious in fraternizing with us.
Q: Of course the Soviet Army had been decimated almost literally in the officer corps by Stalin in the late '30s. One of the great accusations was associating with foreign spies, so I guess the high command wasn't going to leave itself open to anything. Well, the war is over now.