Nobody Here but Us Sergeants

By Sgt. Ray Duncan

The unmasking of Sgt. Hitzinger, by Allied G-2, was a smooth piece of military super-sleuthing. London radio commentators reported the incident like this:

A German officer and sergeant were captured together when the Reich collapsed. The officer asked if his companion, Sgt. Hitzinger, could have something hot to drink. Intelligence officers were instantly suspicious. They seized Sgt. Hitzinger. He turned out to be Heinrich Himmler, chief of the German Gestapo.

Many other high-ranking Nazis undoubtedly are disguised as German GIs. Ways must be found to ferret them out, and it will have to be cleverly done. The secret of exposing phony EM is to watch the behavior of the officers around them, as was done in the Himmler case.officer

“Okay, Nazis!” You yell at a formation of captured officers and enlisted men. “This prison camp is gonna have movies tonight. Clean that empty hut an’ move benches in, see? Field Marshal Schmidt will be in charge.”

During the show you surround the theater, throw on the lights and burst into the room, covering every exit. Then you examine the last six benches. They all should have signs saying in German, “Reserved for Officers.”

If the signs are there everything is all right. You apologize and withdraw. But if there are no signs, then something is fishy and you immediately grab all enlisted men. They’re probably Nazi big shots.

Take another case. Let’s say I’m G-2 at a camp for captured Germans. I call in Colonel General Hans von Huff.

“The jig is up, von Huff! I happen to know that the enlisted prisoners in this camp actually are notorious Nazi leaders!”

“Yah?” He turns pale, but maintains his composure. “I know nothink uff it.”

“I placed you in charge of your fellow prisoners, von Huff, because you’re the ranking officer. Why didn’t you establish a separate table for officers at mess?”

He staggers back, visibly shaken. “Vell, I—I—“

“And why isn’t there a separate slit trench for officers? I’m as democratic as the next man, von Huff, but this is really too much.  It’s bad for discipline. Men lose their respect for officers who fraternize. No self-respecting officer wants to rub—uh—shoulders with enlisted men at a slit trench!”

“Yah,” he mumbles, head bowed in shame. “Yah, you are right.”

“Then why weren’t proper provisions made in this camp? I’ll tell you why, von Huff. It’s because those aren’t really enlisted men. They’re Nazi brass. We’ve arrested them all—von Huff, stop! Take that vial of potassium cyanide out of your mouth!”

Another way to weed out phony EM is to assign a couple of German Red Cross girls to the camp, to pour coffee for the captured troops. If the camp is on the level, if the German EM are genuine, the two girls will be approached within 10 minutes by the ranking German officer.

“Young ladies,” he’ll say, “there’s a large number of enlisted men, as you can see, and since there are only the two of you girls, don’t you think that perhaps it would be wiser not to date any of them? It would create a problem, don’t you see? Be nice to all of them, of course, and feel free to talk with them during the day, but if I were you I’d try to confine my social life exclusively to the commissioned personnel.”

Unless the girls get that business immediately, it’s a safe bet the camp’s EM are phonies. Now, if all these maneuvers fail to probe anything there’s one final test. Call another formation.

“Awright, Nazis, at ease, at ease. We just got a shipment of lumber an’ furniture. You prisoners been authorized to put up two new buildings, see? One will be an Officers’ Club an’ the other’s gonna be a Service Club for EM. But right now there’s only lumber enough for one of them buildings. Okay, get to work!”

The test, of course, is which they build first. If they start with the Service Club yell for the guard and grab those EM, who are probably fugitive Reichsmarshals. Better double-check the corporals, one of the may be Hitler.

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  • Bill Getz says:

    With all due respect to the author, this article does not ring true. Suggest reading Gerald Steinacher’s book, “Nazis on the Run,” 2011, Oxford Press.

    1. admin says:

      You’re right. This article is a just a light hearted story from a 1945 edition of YANK Magazine. YANK’s write-ups are not always 100% accurate but show sentiment of the time.

  • Peter Kubicek says:

    After WWII, most Nazis and SS officers serving in concentration camps simply blended with the population and lived contented lives until they died.
    Recently, a couple aged SS guards, such as Oscar Grönig were tried and sentenced to —
    4 years (!)

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