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WWII, World War 2, letters, Army
World War, 1939-1945; United States--Army
Davis discusses changes in administration.He also mentions a 16 year old girl who was fined 1000 marks for breaking curfew and running across the street at 7:30pm. He writes also of two men who stayed too late at their friends' house and spent the night so as not to break curfew but they ended up being fined regardless, for having three people at a unauthorized public gathering. Davis describes his work in Westphalia as consisting of two things: "denazifying" and obtaining food for the P.O.W. camps in the area. He starts to write about having a Sfadtkyeis (city county) the size of Muskogee a landkries (country county) of the same population. Davis describes how 100-300 people come to the office every morning with complaints. Davis mentions he enjoys being the main contact person for the civilian population.
Pfc Robert D Davis, 18107121
CoE, I7E3, 3rd ECAR
c/o Postmaster N.Y.
Mrs. R.L. Davis
10 June 1945
Let me write you a few things about my personal experiences “in office.”
To begin with, the circumstances of out administration have changed. Once we handled only small groups intensively, and large groups vary extensively. As, for instance, Schauffenberg, my first stop in Germany; we had 700 people there, 1500 in the next town. Our administration here covered all phases. So severe were the restrictions on these people, that they had to have our permission to blow their nests. So urgent was the necessity in keeping them in line, (they were the last group of German civilians before our tenaciously and thinly held Roer River line before Julich.) that penalties meted out were as severe as possible. My first night in Schauffenberg, I was called out to apprehend a girl who had violated curfew by running across the street at 7:30 p.m. She was 16 yrs old. Tried, and convicted before our court, she had to pay 1000 marks [A mark is worth 40 cents to a German]
Two men inadvertently stayed overtime at a friends after curfew (5 o’clock), and consequently had to stay there overnight. They were caught and fined stiffly for “attending an unauthorized public gathering of more than three people.” A man shipped over to the house next door after supper one night. He and the men were fined heavily: the mean of the home for “fastening a public gathering,” and the other culprit for leaving his house after curfew.
Once the real offensive across the Roer began, on Feb 1945, the aspect of our work changed. We became Vauderville-like creatures of one night-stands. One night, two, three nights was usually as long as we stayed in a place. “Gypsy moves” we called them. Failing time to really initiate an administration in our towns, we contented ourselves with emergency work: obtaining hospital and medical facilities; food and water; some measure of electricity etc. Sometimes we would do no mil. Govt. work proper, just billet parts of the division as comfortably as we could, enforce the merciless regime on the hopeless civilians for as long as we were there at various times we got vast areas. One time the 29th Div. was deployed over most of West Phalia as police and security. As we were the only MG detachment in the division, we “ran” most of West Phalia. Actually our work was limited to two things (1) “Denazifying” the towns. This was the period when we lived at Wulfen, and when we would daily cover 100-200 miles, touring from one town to the next, kicking out the Nazi officials and putting in anyone else who was not a Nazi. From this time 2 wrote ecstatically of the pretty scenes one saw the small villages etc. You see the nature of the work itself. (2) Obtaining food thru’ our name for the D.P. camps in the area. (Over 50,000 of them.) This phase didn’t last long, but it was our greatest extended operation we were to have more of them. But the point 2 make is this; the work brought us into only passing contact with the population. We talked to a few officials. The mass of the people did know us except as a name.
Now behold. We have a Stadtkreis (City County) the size of Muskogee; a Land Kreis (Country County) of the same population. Total population of the area under our jurisdiction, 75,000. And we have to run everything!
Because we are in the city, it absorbs, perforce, most of our attention. And how! Every morning 200-300 people storm our office with requests and pleas. In vain we limit “speaking hours” for civilians from 9-12; in vain we command the Burgermeister to hear all the requests in advance, and to dead only the most urgent to us. Everything is urgent to the person that wants it, and he usually talks the Burgermeister into indorsing his plea. Because Lt. Kobbe and 2 handle passers, 95% of the people came thru’ our office. In vain I take over a court room, try to establish a modus operandi of making them stand behind the court railing and advance one at a time. In 30 min. there are 10 people pressing around my desk. And this is how I spend from 9-12 every morning, a harassed man, pinned in to my desk. But its really fun, being the main contact point with the people. One hears so many odd tales; so many funny ones; A the German, too. All told, I’m pretty contented now. But do I jump from 9 to 12 every morning, when I have explain to a few hundred Germans that they are at my disposal, not me at theirs.
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