Dulce et Decorum est

Papirac

The real post-war power 

is still the one of the “Uebermenschen” 

and this “democracy” can’t be realized 

but on the back of the “Untermenschen” !

Jan Theuninck

 

World War Two is a part of our history and our present. Our last uncle has gone, age ninety-two. He grew up with four brothers in a small village tucked up in the mountains between Herzeg and Bosnia. Their mother was a canny woman. She taught her boys to do all the household chores and to be self-sufficient – they could weave, knit and cook as well as manage woodland, tend to animals and grow crops.

When the war started, three of them went to fight, the other two joined them. All were royalists on the side of the allies engaging in warfare in the mountains and forests. They were caught by the Nazis and enslaved in camps in Italy and in Yugoslavia.

“Nichts rauchen! Nichts essen! Nichts wasser!’ were my first words in German.

Our uncle married a German woman just before the war and had a boy with her. The relationship came to an end –  I didn’t know this until my mother was on her deathbed. We never knew this boy. It explained a few things to me – his stoic nature, his sometimes coldness and abruptness, yet he was generous towards children. He remarried an Austro-Hungarian, now my Aunt, who also shared stories about living through the war.

My uncle and one of his brothers moved to Scotland in 1948, working in farms in the Grampians and then to Dundee in the mills. Here my step-father married and had a still-born child who is buried in Fife. Something I discovered when looking through papers at home one day. I don’t know who else knows about this.

I don’t recall my uncle being particularly religious. He believed in work, didn’t like doctors, smoked a pipe and wasn’t interested in DIY. He worked for Tommy Ball’s in Blackburn – makers of Clark’s shoes back then. We all had Clark’s shoes. He was a manager in the factory, his wife a shop floor supervisor.

We take older people for granted, until they are gone. Then we realise just how much they influenced our young lives. R.I.P G.S. 1920-2012.

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