“My grandad was one of the GI’s in the Battle of the Bulge. He wasn’t a frontline soldier, but he did see action and was tasked with guarding a group of German prisoners. This is his story as he told it to me.

‘I was standing behind the German prisoners sitting in the snow. It was about midday and there were 12 or 13 German soldiers to our 5 American guards. It was quiet and uncomfortable. Neither is nor them looked at each other.

I lit a cigarette and leaned against a tree. One of the Germans smelled my tobacco and turned around and made a motion with his hand to his lips. He wanted a cigarette too.

One of the other guys with me saw this and shrugged his shoulders. ‘What harm can it do?’ So I walked over and handed him one. He smiled and I lit it for him.

‘Danke, Ami.’ He said.

‘You’re welcome, Fritz.’ I said.

He was about my age. His uniform seemed old and a size or two too big for him. He looked like a replacement, just like me. I thought to myself, ‘Maybe we could have been pals if none of this had happened.’

So I said, ‘Merry Christmas, Fritz.’

He smiled and nodded. Said something in German, but I don’t know exactly what. Later that day some other soldiers came and picked our prisoners up and I never saw that young man again.’

My granddad said he never hated the Germans. He also said he felt as if they never hated us. He felt most of them just wanted to go home.”

– Maxwell Tappen, descendant of an American WW2 veteran.

-This story was documented by Battles and Beers. Every soldier has a story, and every story deserves to be told.

-For more stories like this, check out my book “What War Did To Us” Now on Amazon!