Family Killing Family

 As told to Russ Miller by Rosalyn Sachs Ross.

(707 words, reading time 5 minutes)

A half naked American soldier, Corporal David Sachs, lay in a shell hole. It’s partly filled with mud, water, ice, and body parts from fallen soldiers of the battle a few days before. The odor of rotting flesh was nauseating.  He was freezing.  His clothes were bloodied, wet and muddy, ripped in shreds by barbed wire. He fought unconsciousness, numbed from the cold.  He tried to get his bearings to find the American headquarters at Alsace-Lorraine, on the French border during WW1, 1917.  Corporal Sachs came upon a dead German officer in the foxhole, wearing a full length German officer’s leather coat.  In David’s attempt to survive the freezing cold, he removed the coat from the dead officer’s body, and quickly put it on himself, including the officer’s hat to shelter his bare head, having lost his own in a scramble.

David dragged himself from one shell hole to another.  He finally noticed a dimly lit tent, about 200 feet away.  He was joyfully ecstatic.  He also observed what appeared to be the recognizable silhouette of an American truck.  He knew he was back to the American lines.   As he rose to walk triumphantly into safety, he felt two bayonets jabbing his ribs from either side, with guards saying, “Raise your hands and walk forward!” One spoke English and the other, broken German.  David was too tired to resist and yielded to the command, knowing he was now safe in American territory, but forgetting he was wearing a German officer’s coat and helmet.

As the three men entered the tent, of what was obviously an American officer’s command post, David was pushed to the floor. He was now face down, and on the verge of passing out from pain and exhaustion.  He was soaking wet, freezing and coated with blood and mud, including his face.  He surrendered.  One of the guards placed a foot on David’s back, holding him to the floor and said to the Major at the table sitting before him, “We captured this German officer in a foxhole, spying on our encampment.”  In a semi conscience state, David saw the Major give a note to the soldiers with the order, “Take this person to the stockade.  We’ll deal with him in the morning.”  David wiped the mud from his eyes. He was startled seeing the man before him. Struggling to his feet, David stood up walked toward the Major.  The guards stopped short of shooting him when they heard David, the captive say, “Max, it’s me David, your cousin.  Don’t you know me?” Max rose from the table saying, “My God, it’s really you David. You are alive.”  Max got up from the table and embraced David with a big family hug. The two men cried with delight.  Max said to the guard, “Disregard my orders and give me back that note.”  Max tore up the note and threw it on the floor.  After a tearful exchange of greetings, David being curious, picked up the torn note, pieced it together and it read: “Take this spy to the stockade to be executed with the other spies in the morning.”  David was chilled by the message. It was almost another instance of family killing family.  These two soldiers both lived to tell the story to their own families, when they returned to America.

Years later at a family gathering, after wars became push button operations, Dave and Max speculated, that any future war could be no less than total annihilation of all sides engaged in any conflict on our planet. Such future conflicts may even result in planets destroying other planets.  The race for absolute destructive power is in process as we breathe, and is a big temptation for any anti-social madmen, who want to kill for the sake of race and mad power.  The forces are in motion and somebody will want to see what happens when the button is pushed.  Just one little push and BOOM!  There goes everything.

 The destiny of our planet, is in the balance,

Of madmen leaders, who take a stance.

They will rule the planet,

And take for granted,

They will survive, but there really is no chance.

Russ Miller