Wednesday, April 11, 2012

As Promised: The Story About My Short Time As A Communist Youth

Sorry. Been a while, hasn't it, but there's really nothing new except to tell you that my good friend and co-editor of this blog, BillDL is recovering nicely from abdominal surgery and D and I are very pleased about that! He's been hurting a long time, and actually knew what was wrong with him before his doctors did. My favorite Scot is a genius!

Oh yeah! Speaking of Scotland, I looked up the Craig Clan tartan, and that thing is beautiful! I'm planning to buy the material and have Dondra make me a klit.
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And so, on to the story.....

When I was about 8 (I think - gotta check it out with my uncle Bernd) I spent some time with my German grandmother who lived in Communist-occupied East Germany. Since there wasn't a whole lot to do in the Summer, I was asked if I wanted to join a youth organization (much like the Boy Scouts here) called The Young Pioneers. "It's fun!", I was told. And it was. But my time in the organization would come back to haunt me as an adult. More in a later paragraph.

So we went to classes, went on field trips, learned to sing (Russian songs) and I was given a parade drum to play in the YP marching band (probably because I couldn't sing at the time).

It was a good time, but little did I know I was being indoctrinated into the ways of Communist doctrine. That was what the classes were for, I later realized.

Did I say they were like our Boy Scouts? Oh yes! They even had the same motto: "Always Prepared".

The Pioneers were a little like the Hitler Youth and have a long history dating back to the "October Revolution" fighting on the side of the Bolsheviks.

So anyway, I was proud to wear my white shirt, shorts and blue neckerchief (the more advanced Pioneers had red ones) and playing my snare drum and learning all about an ".....economic system characterized by the collective ownership of property and by the organization of labor for the common advantage of all members." (Wiki)

During the time I was with my "Oma" I got the measles (German, of course!) and it was a Russian doctor who came to our house to treat me. The town we lived in (Zeitz) had A Russian camp and my uncles and I used to go there to beg for bread at the window of the kitchen. The Russian word for bread is khlyep (pronounced "kleb") and was pretty much the only Russian word we knew. The cooks were always generous, and since there were three of us, we all got a loaf.

My Oma and her children were dirt poor and lived in a "courtyard" kind of apartment infested with rats. I could sometimes feel them crawling around on the bed I shared with my uncle J├╝rgen.

So anywaaaayyyyy..... I don't remember how long I stayed (again, gotta check it out), but I reckon it was long enough to learn how to beg and steal. Oh yes! My uncles and I used to walk to a local farmhouse and steal eggs until we were caught. We also stole sugar beets from the backs of trucks. We were hungry and my Oma's pastries or biscuits she received as part of her pay at a local bakery weren't enough to fill our bellies, hence the stealing.

Yeah, okay, we were caught and our punishment was to work on a farm picking lettuce and beans off the acres of land. Sometimes we had to seed. It was tough work, but we were always given a very good lunch and a dinner to take home to the rest of the family. Our farmer understood times were rough all over and he had a lot of empathy for us. He was a very kind and fair man.

So now you know this. Do I think Communism was a bad form of government? Well, it must have been, because it no longer exists, and I love living in a Democracy where you don't have to watch what you say for fear of being sent to a Gulag!

Okay. Fast-forward. I eventually left East Germany, much to the dismay of my Oma and my uncles. We had come to consider ourselves a family, and although I didn't much like being poor. We all made do. I hated to leave them.

Skipping ahead to 1970. I was 20 and had flunked out of college (I took correspondence courses while in the service to pass) and my number came up for the Draft. My son Jason was only 5 days old and I couldn't leave D with a brand new baby, so I elected to join the United States Air Force. This got me a 90 day delayed enlistment, so I could settle things at home.

Finally reported, got sent to Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio (home of our Alamo) and took basic. After basic I was given orders to report to Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota to serve on a SAC (Strategic Air Command - defunct now) base as a police officer....... BUT... I needed a Secret clearance, and that was when I was confronted with my time in East Germany and my membership in the Young Pioneers.

No idea (to this day) how they found this out, but they did, and I was questioned intensively for about 30 minutes. "Are you now, or have you ever been... and the Lincoln Brigade. All kinds of stuff, but they were finally satisfied and I received my "Secret" (not TOP Secret) clearance.

And there you go. I served my time honorably and was proud to do so. Questions? Ask.

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As always, thank you for reading my blog!

Bill


1 comment:

Unknown said...

Just letting you know my access is working.

-"Lil' sis" Meg