Part Two: More About The War
The first story that Theodor Junker ever shared with me about his years on the Eastern Front, at war with the Russians, was his very first deployment.
He was originally sent out as a sharp-shooter. I do not know where he was during his first deployment to the front, but what he told me was that his group was approaching a tree line when an unseen enemy shot went off (I do not recall whether or not it injured any of Mr. Junker’s fellow soldiers). They all looked for the enemy sniper, especially where trees grew, as would be most logical, but they were unable to locate him. Theo was sent to the front to have a look since he was the sharp-shooter of his group. But even he was unable to spot the adversary.
He told his comrade, Wega, to watch him at all costs as he scanned the tree line in front, but a shot came and struck Theo through his left arm and exited out of his back (it was later noted that the bullet missed his heart by less than two inches). Theo then finally figured out where the shot came from, and he scolded his dear Wega for his failure to prevent his wounding. The enemy was actually in a trench, or foxhole of some sort, that was only ten yards from where they'd walked to – no one saw it. So, Theo told Wega to give him cover fire while he took care of the enemy sniper: He ran forth to the mound of earth behind which the enemy was located, and he jumped over the mound and used his bayonet to bring the sniper to his earthly end. He told me that he finished the Russian with a thrust through the neck. He also told me that he was not a Caucasian Russian, but had “slit-eyes” (those were his actual words).
After his wounding, Mr. Junker was taken from the Front to be treated in a hospital – again, I am not clear on the specific details of where and when and for how long. After he was healed up, he requested to be sent immediately back to the Front, and he was given his wishes. However, Theo was never sent out as a sharp-shooter again: rifles were running low, so his was immediately recirculated back into use by another soldier.
Herr Junker was wounded six times in total, and right off the top of my head I am not able to remember the details of them all. But there is one that I recall that is quite interesting. Herr Junker loved to tell this one:
After Junker’s return to the Front, he always carried around the MP 40, which was a machine pistol; and boy did he ever love that thing! He would tell me “RC, you’ve never seen someone use a weapon like me with my machine pistol!” And I can only imagine...
Herr Junker was a true soldier: He was neither afraid of battle nor regretful afterward. He enjoyed the thrill of competing with death, and he understood that to kill was only a part of warfare. He was never resentful toward his slain opponents – never once in our years together did he ever say an unkind word about the enemies he faced on the battlefield: He knew that they were all there with a duty just like he was. He always said that he never blamed any army, and that he respected them all because they were all just fighting for what they believed in and what they were told they were fighting for by their governments – even when their governments were lying to them.
Anyway, to continue with the story, Herr Junker was marching out front of a line of his men one cold winter's night toward a farm (they were looking to hunker down in one of the barns) when he spotted a line of Russians walking in the distance. He said they were all drunk and cheering, so he and his men engaged them in combat: He raised his beloved machine pistol and opened up on the entire line – “…they all died”, he told me. But before they all died, one of them managed to hurl a grenade right at him, and it landed in the snow not more than a couple of yards ahead of him. He had no time to move: it went off, and the force of the blast was concentrated between his legs... Yes, he took a grenade blast to his manhood.
Once again Herr Junker had to be rushed from the Front, but this time it wasn’t going to be so easy for him. He was losing blood quickly so they had to tie his manhood off at the base (which he told me was hell because he had to urinate, and it was an EIGHT HOUR train ride to the nearest medical facility). Once again, they managed to fix him up. And once again, he demanded placement on the Front.
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Theo always loves to tell this story because he went on to have four children. He would always finish the story by saying the enemies could never kill him because god had a plan for him, and that it was proven because even a grenade blast between the legs could not stop him from having four children! Gods, did I ever love hearing him tell that story – even if I did hear it a hundred times in five years, lol.
He would always tell his war stories as if he were still that young man living them right there. And the stories never altered in detail: not one single detail ever changed in his stories from the Front.
Herr Junker’s body was badly scarred up from all of his wartime wounds. His back had a grapefruit sized scar that looked like an inactive volcano from where the sniper round exited his body. His hand was badly damaged: his ring and pinky finger stay close together, and the knuckles of his middle and index fingers are three times the size they should be. But he always talked about his wounds with a bright smile on his face (his face would even glow a bit red). He spent his summers in the back part of the property, bathing in the sun and swimming in the pond, and he displayed his wounds proudly as badges of honor.
* * *
Herr Junker and I did not spend anywhere near the majority of our time discussing the history of his war experiences, so I do not know them all. And in all honesty, I was not as concerned with his war stories as much as I was with just knowing a true, first-generation National Socialist who got to see the grand glory that was National Socialist Germany. I will devote some time to writing about what he told me about the inner workings of the NS German society. I can assure you that it was everything we think it was and then some. It was more glorious than what most of us here may realize.
* * *
It's difficult for most today to imagine the nature of warfare during the World Wars. It's difficult to understand the great degree of daring that was required of men - a sort that isn't a part of modern warfare: Theo, with his beloved machine pistol, would actually jump aboard Russian tanks and fire into the open turret and render entire tanks neutralized. I always believed Mr. Junker about most things, but I was somewhat skeptical about this one – but years later I was shown by a young World War Two enthusiast that, yes, the Waffen SS would literally jump onto Russian tanks and throw grenades inside or shoot the Russians inside in order to stop them. ...Dear gods, I could never imagine doing such a thing... But when the Germans were low on their own tanks, they didn’t turn and run from a tank-fight: they literally went man-to-man with the Russian beasts of steel.
Theo would tell me about how he climbed on top, dropped the barrel of his MP inside, spun it in a circle with the trigger wide open, and then he would jump off and move on to the next one before the damned thing had even stopped moving. He always laughed humbly. He tried to remain modest about his daring and bravery, but he couldn’t help but exude pride in his courage and experiences. I don’t blame him.
In the second to last Summer I spent with him, Theo revealed to me and several friends a story that he had never shared before. He told me about a time he was in an unused farmhouse – again, on the Eastern Front – with his fellow soldiers, and they noticed a Russian tank stationed around the back side of a barn: It was waiting to ambush any Germans that may be passing through. The young Herr Junker and a comrade had a panzerfaust with them, and they struggled to get the front of it out through a very small window in the attic or some small room at the top of the house. During that time, the Russian soldier keeping watch atop the tank noticed them and had the turret turned to wreak havoc on the house – and it did: It sent a round right into the room where they were. It missed Theo, but it wounded his comrade. The actual massive round must have hit his hand directly because Theo said the hand was completely gone, but there was no blood: the wound had cauterized. He said to me “I’ve never seen such a thing. His whole hand was gone, but there was no blood anywhere.”
I do not recall the rest of the details of that story. I know he told me the whole thing from beginning to end: why they were headed that way, and what happened afterward, etc., but I just cannot remember that right now.