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Tuesday, 6 August 2013

Souvenirs by Keith C Chase


This is a story about luck and how it affects the minds of a mythical group of American Army infantrymen. It is also the story of a young Corporal struggling to retain his sanity after two years of combat. The story takes place in October 1944 where the Americans are attempting to surround the city of Aachen, Germany; had the attempt on Hitler's life three months earlier been successful, hundreds of lives would have been saved as there would have been no need for the desperate battles of that fall.

I had just completed a one year seven month tour of duty providing security at the American Embassy, Bonn, West Germany. This will be a book too someday. I returned stateside on Dec. 27, 1983. I had spent years researching the interesting yet terrible and tragic history of W.W. 2 and the Third Reich. Not only had I been immersed in European New Wave and the huge cold war missile deployment situation and many other things but it never left my thoughts that all of these issues were taking place directly in the shadows of the then not so old Nazi era.

I shall add that I and all of my German friends were anti Nazi and anti communist. I wanted a direct link to the Germans and Americans who fought the war . I wanted the bloodshed and hatred but also examples of mercy and goodwill that also took place in that sad and massive war. I was myself on a big and never ending quest for W.W. 2 German military items. Much to my sorrow most of West Germany had been picked clean by the time I was selected to pull duty there. I decided in 1984 when I went back to live with my then German girlfriend that a realistic war novel about German souvenirs would be great. To the best of my knowledge no writer had ever examined such a plot. All historical aspects had to be accurately covered. I am obligated and honored to declare that without the support of Rita Rittinga and her brother, Erich and his family of Aachen, Souvenirs would have taken much longer to accomplish.

By 1985 I had interviewed many American vets in addition to a great many former German soldiers. Something most positive was an almost complete lack of any remaining animosity or hatred from these men. This new information was combined with info I had gleaned from American vets I spoke with while growing up in the 60's and 70's. I also hiked through many of the old battle sites, and I'm not talking about those nice, marked, easy to find trails either! I did not want to create characters, rather I must have totally understandable "real," "story people with their very own concerns and souls". Then I need, for example, the reader to be just as chilly, fearful, tired and angry as our story people are. Finally, I must have the correct slang, movies ,music, and lifestyles, not to mention those people and loved ones they also left behind.

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