Thursday, October 20, 2016
Frankfurt’s Hauptbahnhof (1970, a Soldier’s Dilemma)
Frankfurt’s Hauptbahnhof (1970, a Soldier’s dilemma)
Once we landed at Frankfurt, am Main (West Germany’s main airport in Frankfurt) us soldiers disembarked, were driven by bus to its Hauptbahnhof, or main train station, inside the bahnhofinneres the main body of the inner station we were brought to a room to learn how to read the train schedule, it appeared the train system or bahnhof was used exclusively for travel in West Germany back in 1970, which was only twenty-five years after World War Two.
From Frankfurt, about two-hundred of us soldiers were put on a train headed to Stuttgart, and Augsburg, myself to Augsburg. As we stopped at Stuttgart, half the soldiers got off there, and the rest of us went on, it seemed to me at a glance, there was a procession of people, strangely nervous, eager for something to happen that perhaps never would. The noises cut across my thoughts.
I was so anxious to be in Europe, my belly ached, as if I was on a high edge of a ravine, a bluff looking down. Then the train picked up and left as suddenly as it had stopped. I would learn in Germany, to which I’d live for four years, in the 1970s, to be exact 10-months, in 1970, and between 1974 to 1977; in any case, the train system was seemingly always on time, also, here I was—with no thoughts of being an invader, conqueror, not really knowing what my mission was but to fill space up an empty space someone left behind, there were to my understanding, 700,000-troops throughout Europe. I was simply one of many.
As we came into the railroad yards, into the Augsburg’s Hauptbahnhof, again I saw people walking along the steps between the brick walls and platform of the station, pacing and awaiting the train so it looked as our train approached them; I figured they were ticketed customers. As the train stopped, none got onto the train. Then we troops were all brought to attention, and were to file out in a line formation, and as we did I asked myself: ‘What people! What are they yelling about? Who were they? Where did they come from? Where were they going?” My mind was suspended in space, they were men and women. Some young, mostly middle-aged. As we passed along, freely along, their legs and arms were like slender top branches of trees swaying at us, as if wanting to kick us, or hit us, some spitting at us, one spit right on me, I stepped out of line about the grab the middle-aged man by his coat and give him a good punch in the jaw, and a Sergeant ran up and grabbed me by the shoulder, stopping me from the assault I was about to commit, to which was like putting a pail of water on me, he said quickly, “Private First Class,” then looking at my name take, “Evens, you can’t do what you’re thinking, you’re an American Soldier… get used to it!”
I suppose I looked like a child’s bare foot striking the floor wanting to stomp, but in lieu of that, I simply stepped back into line formation, and the man gawked at me, knowing good and well, striking him would have caused a small affair for the news on how we American Soldiers were like wardens to them, and they our prisoners.
I suppose what that taught me with my boiling anger was: we need not react to everyone’s disposition, we were not so unlike, wardens, ruling over them for twenty-five years I suppose: perhaps to them even invaders. After several months in Augsburg, the Military Police gave the Germany Police Force back their authority that we had taken away for a quarter century and things appeared to get better.