“Curse you, Red Baron!”
War Scar on Forehead
July 10, 2017
So my daughter Janet asked me: “you have this scar on your forehead – what’s the story behind it? Does it relate to World War II?” About eighty years later, I have to admit that it is indeed a “war story” about Berlin Germany in the early 1940ies, but Colonel Oliver North would hardly be interested in it. My friend and buddy, Karl-Heinz Binias, of the early days of the Berlin bombings were pretty bored between air raids. After an evening of bombings we used to go out early in the morning to look for anti aircraft shell fragments, which all teen agers in Berlin collected and showed off to their friends, competing for the largest and most exotic species. In the afternoons we played in the street on our bikes, which were – of course – airplanes and we attacked each other. I had just downed Karl-Heinz on my bicycle and, as he went down in flames, he managed to get hold of a rock and threw it at me with uncanny accuracy and hit me in the forehead. Well, that sent the “Red Baron” down off his bike, his forehead bleeding profusely and two very subdued teen agers went home for medical assistance.
Fortunately for the two warriors, a doctor, Rele Frisch, lived in the apartment below ours. At my mother’s request, Dr Frisch immediately took charge, put some stitches in the wound and bandaged it and sent me home feeling pretty stupid. My mother was quite concerned and made me go to bed. I woke up during the night with a fever and Dr. Frisch was consulted immediately. She looked at the wound, did not like what she saw and said she would get some help in the morning. Neither she, nor my mother shared with me their concern that I might have meningitis, but the specialist who looked at me in the morning did not think so, but ordered more bed rest and much other medication. It was three days later that the fever broke and I broke out in a rash. Everyone breathed a sigh of relief, realizing that I had contacted Scarlet Fever, and ordered me quarantined! No one could come into my room except my mother and she scrubbed it daily and for several weeks became my private nurse.
This became quite a formative short time of my life. My mother was always concerned that my education lacked the “classical background” since I was not interested in reading. One of the restrictions put on me to combat bad effects of Scarlet Fever: I was not allowed to read. So my deeply caring mother decided to read to me, every day for several hours. The books she chose: Greek mythology and Sir Walter Scott. While I absorbed a lot of Greek mythology not known to me before, I definitely went overboard on Ivanhoe, The Talisman and othe Scott stories. In fact I continued, on my own, to re-read Ivanhoe after I was cured of the Fever, it is still one of my favorite stories.
As for my friendship with Karl Heinz, we managed to communicate with each other almost daily. We lived in the Bieber apartment house and the window of my bedroom looked out into the central courtyard. Karl Heinz would stand at a window facing the courtyard from a stairway in his part of the house. We would yell at each other to the displeasure of other residents. Thus I was kept abreast of events in the neighborhood. During the frequent evening air raids my mother and I stayed in my room reading books. Fortunately our part of Berlin was not under attack by the Brits during that time period, so our action was not very heroic and we got used to the inconvenience.
As a post script to this little story, there was a huge benefit resulting from this otherwise pretty stupid youthful prank. At about the same time of my being in need of the latest medical treatment for Scarlet Fever, Dr. Rele Frisch became aware of a new Diphtheria vaccination and administered that to me while I was laid up. A few years later, as I was incarcerated at the forced labor camp Lenne Lager, I was not afraid of becoming infected with the disease, expecting that I would be subjected to a non-fatal version of it. This allowed me to “escape” from the camp and probably saved my life.Share