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The Long Way Home!

The small, frightened group of women and children displayed their fatigue and fear through their facial expressions with wide-open blood shot eyes that were surrounded by dirt and wrinkles. They did not have the normal look of every day neighborly conversation but instead they glared at each other as if they were looking right through them, a ghostly figure. Every member of the group exhibited the infamous thousand-yard stare.


They desperately knew they had to make a choice because time was rapidly running out and there was no place else to go. There were too few options available and even fewer places to hide or run. It was evident by their long, grim and worn out faces that crossing the wheat field was their best option to escape the onslaught by the Russian troops gradually closing in on them. 


Their options were limited and their best, which really was their only option, was to safely and stealthily make it across the wheat field where Austria sets just on the other side. Feeling completely vulnerable and knowing that to survive they had to cross into Austria or a gruesome fate awaits them. It was either fate or chance to make it to the other side and despite the fact that they were not confident of their decision, they had to take that chance. They looked into each other’s scared dreadful eyes, held each other’s trembling hands and without speaking a single word, the eyes had said it all, and one by one, they quietly dropped from behind their cover to their knees then placed their faces in the dirt and began to crawl.


The Russian infantry was rapidly closing in on this scared group of German women and they needed to crawl, fast and low face down through the immature wheat field that smelled of animal manure. The stalks of wheat were still green and tall which allowed them adequate concealment from the Russians even though they fired at anything that moved in their sector. Had the wheat been mature and ready for harvest then the tracer bullets would have set fire to the field making the situation even more deadly for the women. The bullets haphazardly whizzed passed their heads and Helga had been wearing a red Zipfel Muetze, a traditional German knit cap, making her a more obvious target. As this little girl silently cried and shuddered with her nightmare at hand, she crawled for her life, digging her fingernails into the ground to move quickly and keep as low as possible.


There was only one escape from the Russian machine gun fire and that was to crawl low and fast with determination to get across this field alive. The women made a quick decision to move across the wheat field immediately and in their haste overlooked Helga’s red hat, which was an obvious mistake. The Russian soldiers zoomed in on what appeared to be a red object that scurried across the field so they concentrated their fire in her direction. The bullets zipped closely past her head when one eventually struck and knocked her hat to the ground. She stopped, looked at her hat, grabbed it and continued to crawl. It was God’s given grace to Helga to live because it was not her time to leave this precious earth, not on this day anyway.

Copyright © 2010 John R. Gouin