Merry Christmas and Welcome back to day 5 of the 12DOC! Today, I have part 3 of Stille Nacht! We left off with Little Hilde running to answer yet another knock at the door. (Click here for part 1 and part 2) Let’s jump back into the story and see what happens next…
Part Three: No Guns on Christmas
Before Marta could stop her, Hilde had bolted up from the table and dashed over to the door, swinging it open wide. Adler jumped to his feet as Hilde screamed and backed away.
Marta pulled the child away and stepped outside. Sarge narrowed his eyes as he pointed his pistol at the door. They could just make out rapid talking. A man’s voice rose as it said, “Americanas?!”
Sweat beaded on Adler’s forehead as he gripped his carbine. If there were Krauts out there, they weren’t coming in.
Outside, Marta spoke calmly with the ranking German soldier. He and his men had become separated from their unit and needed a place to stay the night.
Marta smiled. “You can not only find shelter here, but you will also get a hot meal. That is, if you will accept our guests.”
The young soldier eyed her. “Why wouldn’t we accept them?”
“Are they Americanas?” butted in a still younger soldier.
Marta nodded, keeping her face pleasant.
The clatter of cocked weapons filled the air. Marta frowned. “This is Christmas night, sirs, and there will be no shooting around here. I have a young daughter and I will not have her more frightened than she already is. Put your guns in the wood shed, then you may come in and we will all have a nice, nice Christmas, ja?”
“What? With Americanas?” objected the second soldier.
The leader paused for a moment. He glanced back at the shortest man in their unit, who was shivering uncontrollably. “Ja. We agree. To the shed, men.”
Marta hurried inside and turned to Sarge and Adler. “We have more stranded soldiers here to stay for Christmas. We will have quite the party, oui? But you must agree to lay your weapons aside. We will have no shooting here.”
“Not happening, lady!” Adler snapped. Sarge gripped his gun tightly. This was insane!
“We know you’ve got Nazis out there, Frau. We ain’t laying down our guns especially since we have a wounded man,” Sgt. Edwards said firmly.
Marta crossed her arms. “You are in my home and if you want the shelter of it, it will be on my terms. As you can see, they too have no weapons.”
Adler took a step back as four men clad in dark gray enter the house. He glanced at Sarge. “If we put down our weapons, they’ll rush us, Sarge.”
Joey groaned on the bed, struggling to wake up after a bout of unconsciousness. “Sarge? Sarge, what’s going on?” His eyes locked on the German soldiers, his mouth falling partway open. “Sarge!”
“We don’t have much of a choice,” Sarge whispered to Adler. He laid his pistol on the table. “Do what she says.”
Adler couldn’t believe his ears as Sarge went over to the bed to calm down Joey. “You’ve lost your mind!”
“Put down your weapons, Adler. That’s an order.”
One of the German soldiers stepped up in front of him and wrenched the weapon from his hands. “You know better than to disobey your superior, Yank.” He handed the pistol and the sergeant’s to Marta. Turning back to Adler, he said, “It’s Christmas. Can’t we all just forget the war for a little while?”
Adler backed away from him with a scowl. “Maybe you can, you hund. But some of us can’t.”
“Fair enough,” said the English-speaking German. He removed his helmet and said something to his leader. The leader shrugged and removed his own helmet. Their youngest recruit, a lad of sixteen, sat before the fireplace, rubbing his hands feverishly and coughing. The final soldier stood by the door, looking frightened over the whole situation. He said something to his leader, who simply patted him on the shoulder and unlatched the chin strap on his helmet.
Sarge rejoined the group around the table as Marta returned from putting the guns outside. Hilde grabbed hold of her skirt, eyes wide.
The leader stepped forward and addressed Sarge. “Guten Abend.”
“Uh, hello,” Sarge replied. Adler backed away as one of the soldiers held out his hand. “Don’t antagonize them,” Sarge whispered as he shook hands with the soldier instead. “It’s just for one night, Adler.”
Marta stepped forward. “Well, this brings back pleasant memories! I used to teach advanced mathematics classes and I had mostly boys.” She began to interpret what she had said to Sarge and Adler, but the English speaking German translated for her.
The leader smiled and looked at Marta. “Well then, shall we have roll call, Frau…I’m sorry, I didn’t catch your last name.”
“Engel. Frau Marta Engel. And ja, we should get to know one another. Why don’t we start? I’m Marta Engel,” she announced, raising her voice for all to hear. “And this is my daughter, Hilde.”
The leader faced the American soldiers. “Sgt. Lars Baumann.”
“I’m Cpl. Rudolph Meier,” the interpreter told them. “Most call me Rudi.”
The soldier by the door mumbled his name. Rudi grinned. “That’s Pvt. Harold Dietrich. He’s a little shy, even around his fellow soldiers.”
The leader turned to the lad, who had stood up from the fire place and taken off his over coat. “Tell them your name.”
“Pvt. Stefan Graf.” He eyed the Americans wearily. “Will they tell us their names?”
Adler scowled as Sarge said, “I’m Sgt. Chad Edwards.” He turned to Adler and nodded.
“Adler, Micah T. Private and my serial number is-”
“What? Might as well get it over with! As soon as they get their rifles and lugers back, they’ll hogtie us and turn us over to the SS!”
Sarge groaned and rubbed his forehead. “Will you quit being such a jerk and just enjoy a Christmas truce when it’s handed to you?”
Rudi bit his lip. “I know it’s not going to be easy, but we can at least try to ignore our differences for one night, especially Christmas night. I for one am tired of all the fighting and will gladly take an opportunity to forget it!”
Adler shrugged and turned his back to the soldiers. Sarge shrugged. “We can give it a try. Don’t look like any of us has much of a choice. But let it be understood: tomorrow, when we get our weapons, we promise not to shoot at one another or take anyone prisoner.”
Rudi translated his ultimatum to Lars, who nodded and shook hands with Sarge. “Agreed.”
Joey began to moan again, thrashing about on the bed and begging for relief. Rudi looked over Sarge’s shoulder. “Who’s he?”
“Pvt. Joey Fuller. He was shot two days ago. He’s very weak.”
Rudi turned to his pack and said something to Lars, who nodded in agreement. “Here we are.” He pulled out a metal box with a German red cross on the lid. “May I take a look at him?”
Would you let an enemy combatant provide medical care for your wounded comrade? Find out what Sarge does next time. Don’t forget to stop by Stories by Firefly for more Christmas fun!
Christian. American. Southern. Author.