Michaela Merz

The six dead soldiers from the bus stop

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All my school holidays I spent in a tiny village at the Czech-German border. In this village three houses were occupied all year round and three only during the summer holidays. But in the three houses occupied all year round, lived 10 children. A little Bullerby. There was never any lack of playmates. The rest of village were ruins. Before the Second World War the village consisted of 36 houses, one school house and one guesthouse, in the surroundings were four mills. After the Second World War the Sudeten Germans had to leave, the village emptied completely and the deserted, no longer occupied houses decayed.

We children were playing in them. The parents knew little to nothing about what we were doing there and I did not tell anything. Many things were dangerous and my mother surely would have forbidden it if I had told her. I had reason to keep silent. One day we played hide and seek in one of these deserted houses. I climbed high under the roof and kneeling on a beam and in complete darkness I moved on as silent as possible. Suddenly a deafening pained scream, as I had not heard before in my life and it was so close and frightening. In shock I almost lost balance and not much was missing and I would have landed 3m below. I lifted my knee and a bat, which was sleeping on the beam and which I had pinched with my knee, flew away.

The next shop was 3km away through the woods. Today 3km are no distance but back then it was a round-the-world trip. Once a week on Wednesdays at 2pm the “traveller” came. It was a bus, converted to a shop, where one could shop groceries. When the bus arrived above the village, it blew the horn. But that was not really necessary. The entire village was already assembled and was exchanging news. Every now and then the waiting grew long, when the traveller arrived late. Then the grandfather, who lived with his family in the last house of the village and who was never called grandfather but Old Father, told that above the village, where the bus stop was, six soldiers of the German Wehrmacht were buried. It was a scary story and I was afraid.

When we grew older some people told that they had tried to find the dead soldiers. The motive was hardly noble, since the dead soldiers were wanted for their gold rings or the buckles of their military belts but not found.

And now I go visiting my mother and at the bus stop in the forest is a huge cavity. I asked what was going and was told that this is a scientific service that brings home dead soldiers from the Second World War. My childhood story was true. The six soldiers were actually found at that place, which the Old Father had shown to us. But they could not simply be exhumed, since they had found some weapons and first a demining expert had to come to ensure the safety of the ones who buried.

Now the hype is over and the six soldiers are back in their home country. The forest above the bus stop looks almost like before, only a few missing trees indicate where the digging had been done.

Did the six bring mischief over the village or hold their protecting hand over the village? I do not know. The future will show, now that they are no longer there.

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