Born American, but in the Wrong Place | Ashbrook

The only thing worth bombing in Gyor where I was born and where we lived (it had a population of about 100,000 and was just east of Austria on the road to Budapest) was a factory that had been converted to build Messerschmitt planes. It employed about 10,000 people by then, my father among them. When the Americans decided to bomb the plant—in 1944, I think—they first dropped thousands of leaflets informing people not to go to work that day because they were going to level the plant, and they didn’t want people to get hurt. They said the bombing would begin at noon.

My father believed the Americans. He didn’t go to the factory. The Germans, however, insisted that everyone go into the factory and start production. They rounded people up, including my father, at bayonet point. The Nazis explained that those who wouldn’t go in would be lined up and shot. Everyone but about a dozen people went in. The recalcitrant dozen were lined up against a factory wall. The Germans prepared a firing squad. As they were about to commence their grisly work, the American bombs started to fall. It rained fire and steel. Everyone ran away from the factory grounds, including the German soldiers lined up as a firing squad. Almost no one who had gone into the factory survived. The dozen, my father among them, survived. It was noon.

via Born American, but in the Wrong Place | Ashbrook.


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