Dog Robber: Jim Colling Adventure Series, Book I HTML version

the meeting to take place, but quieted to a still-labored idle once the little Italian truck was no longer being
forced to make the climb.
The American major watched as a figure in German Feldgrau opened the passenger door of the truck’s cab
and stepped to the ground. The uniform was immaculate, the silver rank insignia and decorations on the front of
his tunic contrasting with its sober grayness. The American wondered to himself how Kraut officers always
managed to look as if they had just come from a dress parade.
The German swept his eyes across the forested hill in front of him, finally looking directly at where the
Americans were hidden. He shouted something over his shoulder, and the truck’s driver swung down from the
cab, a submachine gun suspended from his neck. Two more German soldiers, also carrying submachine guns,
vaulted over the tailgate and took up positions at the rear of the Fiat.
Cupping his hands to his mouth, the German officer called out in German, “All is quiet. You may come
down. I am ‘Otto.’”
“And I am ‘Fred,’” replied the Major in German as he emerged from the woods and walked towards the SS
officer. Lieutenant Schwartz and Corporal Bergman warily followed him, Thompsons at the ready.
“Guten Tag,” the German greeted the American, extending his hand. The American didn’t take it.
Instead he responded, “Greetings, Sturmbannführer,” noting the man’s SS rank insignia, and continuing in
German, “Do you have the goods?”
“Of course, Herr Major,” replied the SS officer, glancing at the gold oak leaves on the American’s shirt.
“Step this way,” he gestured towards the rear of the truck, ordering his men to drop the tailgate.
The major peered into the dark interior of the Fiat’s bed and saw nothing until one of the German soldiers
shone a flashlight inside. Wide-eyed faces stared back. A child whimpered and was instantly silenced.
“Raus, Juden!” shouted one of the soldiers, waving his submachine gun for emphasis, and displaying a
familiar enjoyment with the task that caused the American officer to grit his teeth.
He turned on the German officer, “Tell your men to desist from addressing these people in that way. You
shall, from this minute, treat them with respect. They are no longer your prisoners.”
The Sturmbannführer seemed surprised at the American’s outburst, but he instructed his men to do as the
American had asked.
The ten men, twelve women and five children who eventually emerged from the truck looked as if they were
on their last legs. One of the women collapsed as soon as she was lowered to the ground. The American officer
quickly ordered everyone to sit down, hoping to avoid anyone else dropping in their tracks. While watching the
former prisoners being assisted from the Fiat, the American had been dimly aware that another vehicle had
reached the clearing, coming from the opposite direction than that of the Germans.
The big US Army truck pulled to a stop several yards from the Wehrmacht vehicle. PFC Benjamin Cohn, a
Thompson submachine gun resting on his hip, jumped down from the truck’s running board. He took one look
at the huddled group of individuals sitting on the ground, and with a cursory request to Lieutenant Schwartz for
permission to get rations and water for the refugees, he went to the back of the American truck, and was soon
distributing K rations and passing around canteens.
Lieutenant Schwartz came to stand beside the major and said in a low voice, “Want us to get rid of these
Krauts, sir?”
The major replied, “No, Lieutenant. General McKimmon’s guaranteed them a safe conduct. If we welch on
it, it will screw things up royally as far as future cooperation is concerned, and you and your men will get the
court martial of all court martials.”
The American major had been studying the former prisoners and after a few moments, he asked the SS
officer, “They are all Jews?”
“Yes, Herr Major.”
“And they were all assigned to the facility at Oldenberg?”
“Yes, all.”
“They do not seem to be in any shape to have performed technical work.”
The SS officer sniffed, “Compared to many others, they have been well-treated. Plenty to eat, medical care,
nice warm place to sleep. They are the lucky ones. They appear as they do because of the difficulty of
transporting them to this place.”
“Which ones are the Poles?” asked the American officer.