Surviving World War Two 

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My name is Joseph John Gaugler. I was on January 28, 1923. My ethnicity was German. I had blonde hair and blue eyes. My parents were from Baden-Württemberg Germany. When I was small, I was close to one of my cousins. We went to school together, we played together, and we stayed at each other’s house. Basically, we were always together. Then, my parents decided to move to Victoria, Texas when I was four years old. I spent the rest of my childhood in Victoria, Texas. My parents were farmers, that’s all they knew since they were from Germany. Life was great growing up, until I was six years old. The Great Depression started in 1929. I remember my parents were not making it to pay their bills on time. My parents were only able to afford one outfit for me that year, so I could go to school. I had one pair of overalls, button shirt, suspenders, lace up boots and a flat cap.

What we did was enough food to survive since we lived in a farm. My poppa had to work double to produce record crops and livestock. By the 1930s prices dropped so low causing many farmers to go bankrupt. Luckily, my dad was smart, and he had money saved. We were able to pay our taxes for a while. Money was tight in that time. I helped my poppa in the farm to produce more crops since the prices per crop was dropping. While working with my poppa, it made me realize how hard it was to be a farmer. We had to work long hours to keep our crops and livestock alive and healthy. Money was running out, and my family started getting desperate by 1933.

“The government passed the Agricultural Adjustment Act (AAA) of 1933, which set limits on the size of the crops and herds farmers could produce”(IPTV, n.pg.). My poppa agreed to limit his production since my family was getting paid a subsidy. This event helped my family pay our property tax and prevented us from losing our farm. Soon after our government check was in our mailbox. I chose this specific character because I am actually talking about my great grandpa. I’ve never met my dad’s side of the family but when I did research about my family tree, my great grandpa amazed me the most. He fought in World War Two.

When I turned twenty one years old, the United States entered the war against Germany three years ago. The United States issued its peacetime drafts, while they were in war. Men between the age of twenty one through forty five were required to register for the military service. I was picked to join the military. I honestly did not want to fight the war. When my parents found out, they told me that it was my duty to help restore democracy. I hesitated that thought. For days I dreaded the feeling of battling in the war, killing my people. I still had family in Germany. What if my family members joined the Nazis? One day while I was walking to the store, I started seeing propaganda posters all over the place.

The one sign that struck me the most said, “ IT CAN HAPPEN HERE!-UNLESS WE KEEP EM’ FIRING!”(Fear, n.pg.). I’ve heard of all the destruction that was happening back home. I didn’t want the destruction to spread in my new home. So I decided to join the army. I let my parents know of my decision, they were proud but at the same time scared of my safety. My parents understood what must be done. The next day I left to start my eight weeks of basic training to become a soldier. I was sent to Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944.

I was in company A, 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Division. My lieutenant was Anderson. As we got closer to the shore, the British that was with us instructed us that we are going to drop the ramp and as soon as we do it we’re going to back out. So you guys better be ready to get off the ship. So our boat won’t create a traffic problem for the other boats behind us. I was running forward shooting wherever, I didn’t know where the firing was coming from. I saw my lieutenant waving his hand to move forward. He was thirty yards away. All I could see was dead bodies or wounded soldiers. Puddles of blood everywhere, the sea turned red with all the dead bodies floating. Some of them were my friends. I kept running forward.

As I was running I found a German sniper on the ground. I hid behind a beach obstacle and managed to see through the scope of the sniper. As I was looking for German soldiers, I got a glance of what I thought I saw my cousin. I stopped to think for a minute, am I doing the right thing? Is it morally correct to shoot my family member for the better good of the country we’re fighting for? I still took the shot anyways because I thought I was doing the right thing. I checked again with the scope if there were any more Germans on the cliff, there were a couple left. Later on ,the firing of Germans decreased. I’ve manage to gather the soldiers that were left. Small groups of the soldiers that were left scattered in the beach. My group got closer to the cliff where I though I shot my cousin. I got close enough to notice that it was in fact my cousin. I shot my cousin.

When I was about to shoot my cousin, the poster that I saw back home reminded me why I joined the army in the first place. The propaganda sign said, “IT CAN HAPPEN HERE!-UNLESS WE KEEP EM’ FIRING!”(Fear, n.pg.). I did not want my home to be destroyed like here in Germany. All the people’s homes were destroyed. There were Nazis raiding innocent people’s homes. Many of the Jews and non Jews were hiding from the Nazis to prevent themselves from going to the concentration camps. I imagined my life like

that. Living in plain fear. I wanted to keep my freedom. Hitler has stripped the freedom away from the Jews and he was going to do it to the world also. I wanted history to stop repeating over the world. No human deserves a life like this. Everyone deserves freedom. Even-though I lost my friends in my platoon, I believed they died for a great purpose. They were part of restoring democracy and stopping Hitler from achieving world domination. This motivating me to finish what we started.

I was prepared of killing people when I joined the war. I did think about what if I saw one of my family members in the Nazis side, what would I do. I never thought this would actually happen. When I shot my cousin, I didn’t hesitate. My response to this action was that I had to help restore democracy no who gets in the way. All my life I was taught to protect my family no matter what. I did the opposite of what I was taught, I shot him anyways. My morals changed when I shot my cousin.

While I was going town by town I could see many poor families still living in their destroyed homes and they were starving at the same time. My family and I are poor people and watching these families suffer, I could see myself in their shoes. Poppa always worked hard to bring food to the table. I wasn’t going to let the Nazis or my feelings for my cousin get in the way for what I was fighting for. I also remembered the economic freedom Americans had back home and how it differed to the economy of Germany. People had no economic freedom in Germany.

Jews or non Jews were not in control of their labor or their own property. They were unable to makes investments also. The global forces also impacted my moral dilemma choice that I made back in the battlefield. Some of the global forces that made me shoot my cousin was that there were firing everywhere. The Germans were killing Americans like crazy. They were ruthless people. My conception was that democracy was important. I saw how people lived a communist country. It was horrible, nobody could make their own choice whatsoever. I finally understood how important the democratic process America had is so important. The people had a voice.

The government protects its people. In a communist country the people had no voice. The elite and the government had all the power. The middle class and the poor people were being treated cruelly. The people had no justice and they were taking advantage of for hard labor. When the middle class and the poor people were no longer use to the government they were exterminated in a painful way. There was no peace or liberty.

I’ve always been grateful for the freedom I had in America. My personal values were based on the type of life I had in Texas. My family taught me that democracy was the most important aspect America provided for its people. That was the main reason my family moved to the United States. My response of my moral dilemma was due to the type of life I’ve lived back home.

I couldn’t imagine living the life that German citizens have. The way German was treating its people was inhumane. Their people were dying due to starvation, sickness, exhaustion of the intense labor, beatings, shootings and they were gassed. The German government has killed more than eight hundred thousand of its own people. Being a witness of these historical events motivating to kill even more Germans. They didn’t deserve to live. I believed I was serving justice for those that have died by the hands of the Nazis.

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Surviving World War Two . (2021, Feb 24). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/surviving-world-war-two/

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