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Old 04-24-2015, 10:11 AM   #1
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Old, old picture

My brother found this picture in an album he got from mom's house when she died in '05, and it just floored me. He noticed this one stuck behind another one. I'd like to tell you the story behind it.

This is my maternal grandparents. My grandfather was a pilot in the Luftwaffe in WW2. He was shot down on a training flight and interred in a Russian POW camp. In case you don't know, there probably ain't two peoples that hated each other more than the Russians and Germans.

Grandpa never talked about the war, other than to say he was trained in the ME109 and pulled out to become an instructor before he saw any combat. He was assigned to train glider pilots for Operation Sea Lion, which was Hitlers plan to invade England. He was also adamant that he never joined the Nazi party. He said he fought for Germany, not Hitler.

After he died, I managed to piece together some details from Mom and Grandma. Grandpa was forced into labor at a Russian uranium mine, where he ran a steam engine that pumped out mine water. Apparently Grandpa was a viscous little bastard. Grandma once and once only alluded to the story that Grandpa lead a resistance cell in the prison/mine and was responsible for the deaths of quite a few Russians. When I pressed her for more details, she clammed up and never mentioned it again as long as she lived.

Apparently Grandpa was scheduled for execution when the war ended. The Russians executed many thousands of German prisoners after the war ended. Somehow, he managed to get repatriated back to Germany, settling back into the Eastern section of Berlin. In 1947 a former comrade of my Grandfather got word to him that the Stasi (east German secret police) figured out who he was and where he was at, and were going to settle the score. Mom told me that Grandpa came in one night, and told the family to grab what they could and fled. At some point, Grandpa arraigned to have some of their personal effects collected and forwarded to them.

They eventually emigrated to the US, and settled in St. Louis. Mom and my Uncle became citizens, However, Grandma and Grandpa did not. In fact, he still received a pension from Germany. Around 1980, Grandpa started suffering from Alzheimer and dementia. He became convinced that the "American Authorities" were going to come kill him because he fought for Germany in the war. He started getting up in the middle of the night and burning all evidence of his involvement in the war. It took Grandma a while to figure out what was happening. By that time, he had burned all the photo albums, all the documents, and all his memorabilia, including a copy of Mein Kampf autographed by Hitler himself. While he was not a Nazi, having that book on the coffee table in your home was quite expected of an officer in the German military at the time. I shudder to think what the value of that would be today.

So, as far as I knew, there were no surviving pictures of my grandparents prior to them coming to America. I guess Mom had this one and forgot about it. So you can imagine my shock at seeing my grandparents, on their wedding day, as young and vital people. Just a note... In Germany at the time, one simply did not smile for formal portraits. It just wasn't done. So many old German photos make you think they were dour, grumpy people. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Tim
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Old 04-24-2015, 10:17 AM   #2
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Wow , great story thanks for sharing!
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Old 04-24-2015, 10:31 AM   #3
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That is a cool story. I am a WWII history buff, and can certainly relate with the historical aspects you stated.

So, considering your heritage CowRacer, did you drink a lot of Fanta when you were growing up? I posted this in another forum I frequent a few weeks ago, which you may find interesting.

-----------------------------------------------

Prior to the outbreak of the second world war, Coca-Cola's only unqualified success on the international scene was its bottling operations in Nazi Germany. Sales records were being set year after year in that venue, and by 1939 Coca-Cola had 43 bottling plants and more than 600 local distributors in that country.

However, the war was about to change that. As the inevitable clash loomed ever closer, obtaining the key ingredients necessary for the production of Coca-Cola syrup became increasingly difficult in Germany, grinding production towards a standstill.

In 1938, the man in charge of Coca-Cola's operations in Germany, American-born Ray Powers, died of injuries received in an automobile accident. His right-hand man, German-born Max Keith, took over.

Meanwhile, the German government placed Max Keith in charge of Coca-Cola's properties in the occupied countries, and he sent word through Coca-Cola's bottler in neutral Switzerland that he would try to keep the enterprises alive. But with no means of getting ingredients, Keith stopped making Coca-Cola and began marketing an entirely new soft drink he called Fanta, a light-colored beverage that resembled ginger ale.
Fanta came by its name thanks to Keith's instructions to employees during the contest to christen the beverage — he told them to let their Fantasie [Geman for fantasy] run wild. Upon hearing that, veteran salesman Joe Knipp immediately blurted out Fanta.

This new soda was often made from the leavings of other food industries. (Remember, Germany did have a bit of an import problem at that time.) Whey (a cheese by-product) and apple fiber from cider presses found their way into the drink. As for which fruits were used in the formulation, it all depended on what was available at the time. In its earliest incarnations, the drink was sweetened with saccharin, but by 1941 its concocters were permitted to use 3.5 percent beet sugar.

Fanta sold well enough to keep the plants operating and Coca-Cola people employed. In 1943, 3 million cases of Fanta were vended, but not all were imbibed — some were used to flavor soups and stews. (Sugar rationing inspired many a housewife to look to unusual sources for that which could no longer be bought outright in large enough quantities to satisfy.)

Until the end of the war, Coca-Cola executives in Atlanta did not know if Keith was working for the company or for the Nazis, because communication with him was impossible. Their misgivings aside, Keith was safeguarding Coca-Cola interests and people during that period of no contact. It was thanks largely to his efforts that Coca-Cola was able to re-establish production in Germany virtually immediately after World War II.

According to a report prepared by an investigator commissioned by Coca-Cola to examine Max Keith's actions during that unsupervised period, Keith had never been a Nazi, even though he'd been repeatedly pressured to become one and indeed had endured hardships because of his refusal. He also could have made a fortune for himself by bottling and selling Fanta under his own name. Instead, in the face of having to work for the German government, he kept the Coca-Cola plants in Germany running and various Coca-Cola men alive throughout the war. At the end of the conflict, he welcomed the Coca-Cola company back to its German operations and handed over both the profits from the war years and the new soft drink.

So where does all this leave the question of who or what invented Fanta and why? The truth is simple, even if it doesn't run trippingly off the tongue: Fanta was the creation of a German-born Coca-Cola man who was acting without direction from Atlanta. This man wasn't a Nazi, nor did he invent the drink at the direction of the Third Reich. Rather, in an effort to preserve Coca-Cola company assets and protect its people by way of keeping local plants operating, he formulated a new soft drink when it became impossible to produce the company's flagship product.

Fanta is still a Coca-Cola product, and today it comes in seventy different flavors (though only some are available within each of the 188 countries it is sold in).
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Old 04-24-2015, 10:42 AM   #4
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Wow, that's wild. I can't recall ever seeing my grandparents drinking Fanta. Grandma liked the occasional Pepsi. Grandpa liked his beer.

Tim
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Old 04-24-2015, 10:47 AM   #5
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Cowracer, that is a great story/memory. We lived next door to a couple from Belgium that lived thru the Nazi invasion and the stories they told were absolutely frightening about what they lived thru. As soon as the war was over, they sold everything they had and came to the US. Got their citizenship and made their 3 kids get their citizenship on their own. The whole family was just amazing and wonderful people. Great neighbors!
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Old 04-24-2015, 10:49 AM   #6
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Since this is a OPEN forum, My Grandfather IS a Citizen of the (United States Of America)! He Fought against Germany in WW1! I am Very Proud of him also! I have uncles who Fought against Germany in WWII also,I am Proud of them also! Youroo!!
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Old 04-24-2015, 10:53 AM   #7
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Drank Fanta in Spain in the 60's. Maybe a holdover from German/Spanish relations during WWII.
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Old 04-24-2015, 10:58 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by youroo View Post
Since this is a OPEN forum, My Grandfather IS a Citizen of the (United States Of America)! He Fought against Germany in WW1! I am Very Proud of him also! I have uncles who Fought against Germany in WWII also,I am Proud of them also! Youroo!!
I'm not sure what point you are trying to make.

Are you implying I should not have loved and been proud of my Grandfather simply because he came from (and fought for) another country before he came to America?

Tim
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Old 04-24-2015, 11:16 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Cowracer View Post
I'm not sure what point you are trying to make.

Are you implying I should not have loved and been proud of my Grandfather simply because he came from (and fought for) another country before he came to America?

Tim
It is a great story and you nor your family have nothing to be ashamed of. Thank you for sharing!
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Old 04-24-2015, 11:24 AM   #10
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X2. Thanks. I can imagine how much that picture means to you.
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