MERRY CHRISTMAS everyone! As you celebrate with family and friends on this holy day, don’t forget to take time and thank God for sending the Most Precious Gift known to mankind! (Click here for more Christmas Fun!) And now, for the conclusion of Stille Nacht!
Part Eight : Stille Nacht
The next morning, Christmas Day, Adler was awakened by Joey, complaining that he was cold. Adler sat up and shook his head, untangling himself from between Sarge’s rucksack and Harold’s discarded blanket.
“You look like you’re feeling better this morning,” Adler replied.
Joey grinned his boyish grin and sat up on his elbow. “Some better, but I still can’t walk on my own. Already tried. Y’all must have been unconscious not to hear me fall earlier. I had to drag myself back into bed.”
Adler yawned and adjusted Joey’s blankets. “I didn’t get just a whole lot of sleep. I think it was about 4:00 when I finally nodded off.”
“Two hours sure ain’t a lot of sleep. What kept you up?”
Adler sighed and held up the book he had tucked in his shirt pocket. “Sarge’s Bible. You know, there are an awful lot of scriptures on the Messiah…and this Jesus does seem to line up.”
Joey nodded soberly. “That’s what we’ve been trying to tell you, Micah. Even the prophet you’re named for knew who He was, before He was born.”
“Maybe. I’ve still got more reading to do.”
“Good. There’s hope for you then.”
The others rolled out of their self-made cocoons and began to mill about the room as Marta prepared breakfast. Rudi came over to change Joey’s bandage and feel his forehead. “You’re still warm, Yank. Better take it easy today. There’s no way you can walk.”
“Ain’t got a choice. Sarge can’t carry me all day on his back!”
Harold whispered something to Rudi, who smiled and nodded. “Be right back,” he called over his shoulder. He motioned to Stefan and the two hurried outside. Adler didn’t pay them any mind.
Hilde skipped around the room shouting “Frohliche Weihnachten!”
Adler smiled. “Merry Christmas.”
Marta smiled and set out bowls to fill with left over potato soup.
The door blew open, nearly knocking Lars into the wall, as Harold and Stefan trudged in with two sturdy branches. Lars shut the door behind them and pulled out his knife. When Sarge realized what they were doing he pulled out his as well. They hacked off the twigs and limbs, making two semi-smooth poles. “We need rope and a sheet,” Lars commented.
Rudi hunted through his pack and Adler reached for his. In the same moment, they pulled out a roll of sturdy cord. “Got it!”
Marta laughed as she headed to the small side room and returned with a stout looking sheet. Working quickly, Lars and Sarge tied together the sheet, branches and rope.
“And there you have it!” Harold said with a grin. “A stretcher for Joey!”
Adler half smiled. “Joey, you’re getting king treatment today.”
Marta turned back to her breakfast preparations. Hilde, still very much in the Christmas spirit, started humming a tune. Stefan smiled at her and hummed along.
Then, Marta’s lone voice began to sing.
Stille Nacht! Heil’ge Nacht!
Alles schlaft; einsam wacht
Nur das traute hoch heilige Paar.
Holder Knab’ im lockigen Haar,
Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh!
Schlafe in himmlischer Ruh!
Sarge smiled as Joey took up the song.
Silent Night! Holy Night!
All is calm; as is bright
‘Round yon virgin, mother and Child.
Holy Infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in Heavenly Peace!
Sleep in Heavenly Peace!
Hilde smiled and clapped her hands, soon joined by everyone. “Merry Christmas!”
After breakfast, Rudi helped Sarge carry Joey out on the stretcher while Lars, consulting a map and compass, showed Adler the way back to American lines. “If this is still accurate,” Lars warned. “They are probably much closer by now. And keep a sharp watch for our men.”
Adler nodded and jotted down the directions on his map. “And you for ours, though I’d guess you’d be better off than us in such a situation.”
They turned as Marta and Hilde came out of the cabin, bundled up and carrying their meager belongings with them. They would accompany their soldiers out of the danger zone back to their lines.
“Well, I guess this is goodbye,” Sarge said, shaking hands with each German present. “I’ll admit, I think at times I’d forgotten you fellows were humans too. Thanks for everything.”
Rudi grinned. “Thanks for proving Americans are equals as well. War paints ugly pictures.”
“Hatred too,” Adler replied. He turned to Lars. “I appreciated our talk.”
Lars smiled. “Keep hoping. They may still be out there.”
The soldiers trooped to the wood shed and Stefan handed out their weapons.
“Thank you, Frau Engel, for everything,” Joey called from the stretcher.
“Yes, thank you,” the others replied.
Marta smiled. “Thank you for sharing Christmas with us. May the Lord Bless and keep you.” She turned to Lars. “Shall we go?”
“Ja, forward march!”
The Germans headed one way, the Americans another. But they were different now. Each carried memories that would last the rest of their lives. Hope for peace and healing had been lit in their hearts…all because of a Baby born in Bethlehem.
And know, for the true story that inspire Stille Nacht...
Have a very Merry Christmas! Jesus is the Reason!
Merry Christmas Eve, Happy 11th Day of Christmas, and welcome to my official 100th post! Can’t believe I’ve been blogging that long! So it’s fitting to celebrate by giving you the next to last part of Stille Nacht! Thank you so much for joining me today! Let’s go star gazing! (Don’t forget to visit Stories by Firefly for more Christmas Eve Fun!)
Part Seven: The Christmas Star
Rudi grabbed his jacket and hat and followed the boys outside. Sarge stood and followed. “I could use some air.”
Lars and Adler remained at the table, staring into their empty bowls until Marta took them to the sink. Lars chanced a glance at Adler. “What happened to your family?”
Adler let his breath out in a rush. “They, um,” he cleared his throat. “They weren’t able to get out of Germany before the boarders closed. A friend wrote me and said they were transported to a concentration camp called Dachau.”
Lars winced and shook his head. “Do you know if they are still alive?”
Adler swallowed. “Mama died two months after arrival. Papa never made it to the camp. He was gunned down at a transport when he tried to get the others to fight back. I don’t know what happened to my siblings.”
“I…I’m so sorry,” Lars said, his voice low. “My family is gone as well. They died in the Normandy storming.”
“They were at Normandy?”
Lars nodded. “I was fortunate enough to have them stationed in France with me. But I still can’t understand why they had to die, civilians, and I still live, a soldier.”
“Was it a bombing?”
“I never should have gotten into all of this! If I had pushed back, taken a stand…”
“You’d be dead.”
“Maybe. But I wouldn’t have guilt plaguing me on a daily basis.”
Adler nodded slowly. He stood and walked quietly over to Joey. The young soldier looked up at him. “Why’s everybody going outside?”
“Going to look at the stars I guess.”
Joey’s face lit up. “I want to see!”
“Alright, uh…oh, there’s your stuff. Let’s get your coat on and I’ll help you outside.”
Lars put on his coat and offered to help with Joey. They went out and helped Joey get settled on a bench beside Stefan. No one said a word, just stared up at the stars, lost in thought.
Joey smiled as he located Orion, while Stefan hunted for Leo. Lars leaned up against the house determined that this time he would find the little dipper which always seemed to evade his watchful eye. Sarge and Adler gazed up at the north star, mentally trying to map their way back to their lines.
The door swung open and Marta came out, holding Hilde’s hand. “Look, Hilde! It’s the star of Bethlehem!”
Rudi translated for Sarge as the group followed Marta’s pointing. The North Star. The brightest one in the sky.
“Is that the star that shone over Baby Jesus’ house in Bethlehem, Mama?”
Marta smiled. “We don’t know for sure, dear. But we like to think so. But do you know why it shone?”
“It was for the Wisemen to follow so they could give Jesus their presents.”
Hilde paused, then asked, “Mama, I love Jesus, but why did He have to come to earth?”
Adler shifted uncomfortably. Here we go again, he thought.
Marta hesitated. Christians had been stiffly persecuted in Germany, since their teachings contradicted Hitler. Should she risk explaining everything to her daughter in front of her guests? Or should she put Hilde off until it was safer? Marta swallowed hard. I am not ashamed of You, Lord…
“Baby Jesus came to earth and was born in a manger, because He loved us enough to die for us. He knew that since we are sinners, we could never get into heaven. So He lived a sinless life and took our sins upon Himself and died in our place. After He was buried, three days later, He rose from the dead, our eternal Lord and Savior. He did all of that because He loved us.”
“Even Hitler, Mama?”
Adler smirked and crossed his arms, eager to hear this reply. “Yes, even for Hitler, darling, if he will only ask Jesus to forgive him of his sins. He died for everyone, man, woman, adult, child, black, white, German, Jewish, American, all of us.”
“What makes you so sure that Jesus is the Savior, the Messiah?” Adler challenged, though the words lacked the bite he normally intoned.
Marta smiled and quoted, “But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. (Micah 5:2) Jesus was of Bethlehem, was He not?”
“Well, yes, I suppose so.”
“Do you know anyone else of Bethlehem that had done as great things as Jesus?”
“If what they say is true, no.”
“Isaiah 40:11 says, He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young. Wouldn’t you say Jesus fits that description? He certainly loved the weak and children. He seems like a shepherd to me.
“Isaiah 49:6 says, And he said, It is a light thing that thou shouldest be my servant to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel: I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth. Thus far, I would guess that more Gentiles have come to accept Christ than Jews. And He is our Light.”
Marta wrapped her shawl tightly about her. “There are many more verses that solidify who Jesus is, Pvt. Adler. I challenge you, get a Bible and read the Old Testament. Find the prophecy of the Messiah and see if Jesus doesn’t measure up to every one of them.”
Adler nodded slowly. “I’ll think about it.”
“I’ve got a Bible you can use,” Sarge reminded.
Joey shivered and winced as pain sliced through his leg. Rudi turned to him. “We’d best get him inside. He needs to rest.”
“We all do,” Marta said, opening the door. As they all entered the house, Marta entered a small room and brought out three blankets. “I’m sorry this is all I can spare.”
The soldiers pulled out their own blankets. “We should be able to make do, Frau, thank you,” Lars assured her.
“Then good night,” she said, leading Hilde into the little room.
Joey, Stefan and Harold got the extra blankets. Pallets were made by the fire and each agreed that whoever woke up during the night would chuck on another piece of wood.
As the others faded off to sleep, Rudi checked on Joey one more time. Satisfied that he was sleeping peacefully, he turned back towards their pallets. Lars was looking out the window. “Something wrong?”
Lars shook his head and grinned. “No. I just found the little dipper.”
Be sure and come back tomorrow for the conclusion of Stille Nacht! Have a very Merry Christmas!
Merry Christmas and welcome back to day 9 of the 12DOC blog party! (Click here for more Christmas fun!)
Last time, Lars, a German soldier, asked for Rudi, their translator, to ask Adler, an American GI if he was Jewish. Let’s see what happens next!
Part Six: He's Jewish!
Silence hung in the air as Rudi licked his lips and glanced to the side. “He wants to know if you are Jewish, Pvt. Adler.”
Adler refused to answer, shoveling another bite of food into his mouth. When he swallowed, he said, “We’re having a fairly good evening. Let’s keep it that way, shall we?”
Rudi looked down. “Silence is as good as answering.”
Adler narrowed his eyes. “We made an agreement.”
Sarge watched as Lars continued to stare at Adler. “Even if he is Jewish, that doesn’t change the fact that he is a human being with a soul.”
“You don’t have to start that too,” Adler mumbled.
Lars glanced at Rudi. “If he is Jewish, then he might-”
“What does it matter?” Adler spat in German. Everyone stared at him in surprise. But they didn’t have long to recover. “Are you intimidated by Jewish people? Do we scare you? Are you afraid I’m gonna kill you all in your sleep for the awful things you’ve done to my family and my people? Maybe that’s why you’re killing us! Because you’re scared of us! Because we happen to be God’s chosen people and the perfect Aryans weren’t!”
Adler stood and left the table, facing the fireplace.
Lars’ mouth fell open as Adler ended his rant. “I…I didn’t…you…how…” he couldn’t get his words out.
“You are from Germany?” Rudi asked.
“As if that isn’t obvious now?” Lars said, finding his voice. “Adler, I wasn’t going to-”
The scraping of a chair interrupted him again. Hilde slowly walked around the table and stood next to Adler. She took his hand and looked up at him. “It’s okay that you’re Jewish. We love you anyway.”
Silence reigned. Adler looked down at Hilde. She smiled at him, then wrapped her arms around him in a hug. Adler reached down and lifted her into his arms. He hugged her, burying his face in her raven braids. Hilde grinned at her mother and patted Adler’s back, resting her head against his shoulder.
With a deep breath, Adler set Hilde down. She returned to her seat and bit into a piece of the mystery meat Sarge had brought. Rudi tried to catch Sarge up on what all had been said, trying to make sense of it all himself. He then stood and left the table to check on Joey.
Marta stood and said, “I don’t know the feelings of everyone in this room, but I for one am in agreement with Hilde. Any who feel differently may consider themselves no longer under our previous agreement.”
“I don’t get it. What’s wrong with him being Jewish?” Stefan asked Lars.
“Nothing,” Lars replied. He glanced over at Rudi. “We’ve protected him pretty well, I’d say.”
Harold looked down at his half eaten food. “I wish I was.”
Stefan frowned. “I’m the same age as Harold. I have a right to know what’s going on, even if I’m only a private.”
“Back to what I was going to say earlier,” Lars cut in. Stefan narrowed his eyes and crossed his arms. “Adler, I was just curious to know if you knew the Cohen family. They were neighbors of mine before the war broke out. They escaped the ghettos and we don’t know where they went. We were kinda hoping they made it out.”
“Sorry, can’t help you. Do you know how many Cohen families there are in New York? And how many migrated over to escape your maniac leader?”
“I won’t even try to guess.”
Marta cleared her throat. “Why don’t we finish our supper and choose a new topic to discuss?”
The others nodded and returned to the table. Again, all was silent except an occasional grunt from Joey.
Stefan and Harold placed their dishes in the sink and headed for the door.
“Where are they going?” Sarge asked.
Rudi smiled. “To star gaze. It’s sort of a routine for us now. It’s a way to stay sane in all the madness.”
That could have gotten very ugly! Tomorrow, we will take a short break from the story to enjoy the sounds of the season! Then the next day, we will return for the next to last part of Stille Nacht!
Merry Christmas (three days, y’all!)
Hello and welcome to day 8 of The 12 Days of Christmas! Click here for more Christmas fun!
And now, we return to Germany for part five of Stille Nacht. Let’s see how our warring soldiers are getting along…
Part Five: Christmas Dinner
Marta took the pot from over the fire and placed it on the table. “Everyone have a seat!” Marta and Hilde sat on a bench together at the head of the table. Lars, Harold, and Stefan sat on one side of the table, Sarge, Adler, and Rudi on the other.
“Join me in prayer, please.”
The soldiers bowed their heads and Marta began to pray.
Rudi whispered, “We thank You, Lord, for bringing us together peacefully in this terrible war.”
Adler glanced at him, then closed his eyes once more as Rudi continued to translate Marta’s prayer. “Please bless this dinner and the little things that we have tonight. Help us to promise to be friendly to each other if at all possible, Lord. And let this terrible war end, so we can all go home very soon…”
Rudi’s voice cracked and he turned his face away. Adler stared hard at his plate as Rudi finished, “…In Jesus Holy Name I pray, Amen.”
No one spoke or made a move to dish out the food. Sarge glanced over at Lars in time to see him swipe at his eyes. Harold wasn’t even attempting to hide his feelings, though he remained quiet as ever. Sarge exhaled deeply as he felt moisture trailing down his own cheeks.
Hilde looked up at her mother. “Why are they crying?”
Stefan stood and stepped away from the table, fumbling in his pocket for a kerchief as he opened the door. When he returned, he mumbled, “Sure is cold outside,” hoping no one would notice his flushed face.
Adler cleared his throat as the food, at last, was passed around. “Um, Rudi, ask Harold who he’s got at home waiting for him, will ya?”
Rudi smiled and told Harold what Adler had said. Harold stared at Adler for a moment, stunned that he was talking to him. “I…um…my mother…and three sisters. I don’t know where Willi and Papa are. You?”
Adler nodded slowly, chewing a bite of bratwurst. “My wife and twins I haven’t met yet. A boy and girl.”
Rudi swallowed a bite of food before informing Harold of Adler’s answer.
Stefan looked up. “Twins? I’m a twin!” He clamped his hand over his mouth. His mother had told him never to mention that over the last few years. Why, he wasn’t sure.
Lars patted his shoulder. “No one will tell your secret, Stefan. We like you too much.”
“What’s the big deal with being a twin?” Sarge asked once the exchange had been translated.
Lars looked at Rudi and said something. Rudi grimaced. “We have a leader with some very strange curiosities. Hitler has had numerous tests done on twins…I don’t know the extent, but if one is a twin, they keep quiet about it.” He jerked his head toward Stefan. “He doesn’t know anything about that. I grew up with his older brother and I promised I’d sorta shield him.”
“Is there no end to that moron’s madness?” Adler muttered, taking another bite of soup.
Rudi lowered his head. “Perhaps, along with war, we should ban his name from conversation too.”
“I’m for that!” Sarge agreed.
Stefan began to cough again, his whole body shuddering. Marta stood and came to his side, offering him more water. “What’s wrong with him?” Adler asked.
“Lung infection,” Rudi replied. “We have no medicine for him.”
Adler winced as Stefan pressed a blood spotted handkerchief to his mouth. “How long has he been like that?”
“About a week now,” Rudi said as Stefan stepped away from the table. “I don’t know what to do for him.”
Adler glanced at Sarge, then stood and left the table. He rummaged through his pack. “Aha, here's where you’ve been hiding.” He pulled out a small glass bottle and held it over his head in triumph. In French, he asked Marta for a spoon.
Adler measured out a dose of the liquid in the bottle. Lars narrowed his eyes and glanced at Rudi. “What is that?” Rudi asked as Adler walked toward Stefan.
“It’s some medicine that I can’t pronounce, but I had a lung infection last month and this stuff helped. Some housewife in France gave it to me.”
Lars reached for the bottle and scanned the label. “Hmm!” He nodded and Adler helped Stefan somehow get the medicine down without spewing it everywhere.
Lars handed the bottle back to Adler. “No, y’all keep that,” Adler said, pushing the bottle back into Lars’ hands.
Rudi tried to translate. “What does y’all mean?”
“You all,” Sarge said with a laugh. “It’s a word from my part of the States. I guess I’m rubbing off on Adler.”
“Well, you’ve picked up a few things from me too,” Adler defended. “Like eating bagels for one, hmm!”
Lars looked at Adler as they all sat back down at the table. “Bagels? Rudi, ask this man if he is Jewish.”
Oh, dear! Sounds like trouble might be brewing! Tune in tomorrow to see what happens next!
Merry Christmas and welcome back for part four of my WWII Christmas story. If you missed the previous parts, you can find them here, here and here 😊 Enjoy! (Also, click here for more Christmas fun!)
Part 4: Rudi, Walking Wounded
“Don’t let him touch Joey, Sarge!” Adler said, coming to stand between Joey and Rudi.
“Are you a doctor?” Sarge asked.
“No, but I do have some medical training,” Rudi replied. “I was wounded once. Walking wounded men help the doctors. Maybe I can help him somehow.”
Sarge pushed Adler out of the way. “Let him examine him. He can’t hurt Joey with us standing right here.”
Rudi sat on the edge of the bed and opened his pack of medical supplies. “He’s got sulfur packs,” Sarge said, very pleased.
Rudi smiled at Joey and patted him on the shoulder. “Got hurt up, did you? May I take a look?”
Joey looked up at Sarge. “It’s okay, Joey.”
Joey slowly nodded his head. Rudi smiled again and removed the bandage Marta had rigged up for him. “Let’s take a look at this…” Joey tensed, fighting the urge to push Rudi away.
Stefan edged closer to them, craning his neck to get a better look at the wound. Harold, keeping to the back of the group tried to get a look too. Rudi shook his head and glanced up at Sarge. “My assistants,” he teased. “Stefan, bring me a light.”
“Jawohl.” Stefan took the lamp Marta offered him and held it over Joey, his hands shaking.
“Harold, you hold it,” Rudi said. He took a closer look at Joey’s leg. “The cold has kept it from becoming infected. You are very lucky, Pvt. Fuller. You’ll be just fine with some good rest and nourishment. I’m going to put some sulfur powder on the wound and dress it properly. You just lie still and relax, alright?”
Joey nodded and bit his lip, bracing himself for more pain.
Rudi worked fast and before Joey knew it, he was bandaged up properly and the pain was beginning to ease off.
Marta was again working over the fire, adding a few more potatoes and mushrooms. “I have a few bratwurst, if you want them,” Lars offered, pulling the items from his food pack.
“I too,” Harold whispered, fishing out his own.
Sarge dug into his pack and pulled out a can of baked beans and a second of mystery meat. Adler opened his pack and scrounged around. He pulled out a wrapped item and placed it on the table. Hilde furrowed her brow and unwrapped the cloth. “Mama! The American brought stollen! He brought stollen! Oh, you are my favorite!” she said, jumping up to hug Adler.
Her affection startled Adler. Cautiously, he placed a hand on her shoulder. “I take it she likes that stuff?”
Marta nodded. “Stollen is a Christmas tradition here. Where did you get it?”
Adler shifted. “Found it.” The German soldiers exchanged glances but said nothing. They knew he had found it on a dead soldier. How many times had they, on the verge of starvation at times, taken from their own comrades in arms and the fallen enemy troops to stay alive?
“Never mind that,” Marta said, handing Adler a knife. “Would you mind slicing it up for us? You can put it on this plate.”
Adler nodded and sank the knife into the bread like loaf. Sarge and Lars helped Marta set on the table what seemed like every dish in the house. Adler glanced at Rudi, who was timing Joey’s pulse. “How’s it sound?”
Rudi shrugged. “It’s a little fast, but that’s to be expected. He’s had quite the excitement this evening.” Rudi tucked Joey’s hand back under the covers, stood and stretched. He looked Adler up and down. “You look sturdy. Are you a carpenter?”
Adler shook his head. Rudi arranged the stollen on the plate as Adler continued to cut the slices. “What do you do back home?”
“Nosey aren’t you?”
Rudi furrowed his brow. “What has my nose to do with anything?”
Adler looked up at Rudi and almost smiled. “You know, you’re sticking your nose into other people’s business.”
“Oh! Oh, that makes sense!” Rudi said with a laugh. “Nosey! I like that.”
Adler shook his head and finally smiled a little. “You still didn’t tell me what you do,” Rudi reminded.
“If you must know, I’m a pushcart produce salesman and that’s probably all I’ll ever be.”
“Why? In America, you can do anything! Why would you want to be a pushcart whatever it was you said?”
“Because I’m…because where I live, no one wants to hire me. Our country has been in a depression, remember?”
“America too?” Rudi asked, surprised. “I always thought Americans had everything. Now, it really seems silly for us to fight each other, since we’ve both just come out of depressions. I remember how bad it was where I lived. We saw people pushing barrows into town filled with marks just to buy a loaf of bread.”
Adler raised an eyebrow. “Well, ours wasn’t quite like that...”
Rudi lowered his voice and said, “Maybe that’s why so many of our people were fooled by Hitler. We were so tired of living like that, we wanted change…” Rudi sighed and shook his head. “We sure got it.”
Adler grunted. “Hope you’re real happy with it. But then, things will be changing again before too long.”
Rudi nodded, his face grave. “I believe you’re right.”
And that’s all for now! Hope you are enjoying the story so far. What do you think will happen next? Stay tuned! We still have four parts to go!
 Yes or Yes Sir
Christian. American. Southern. Author.