Fraternization in Germany from YANK Magazine

Posted on March 22nd, 2016 by:

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By YANK Staff Correspondents:

The recently deceased and little-mourned Non-Fraternization Act probably set off the loudest and most engaging international discussion of sex since Adam discovered Eve had not been placed in the Garden purely for decorative purposes. The principle of the Non-Fraternization Act was that the Germans were our enemies and that it was dangerous to play around with them. The principle was good, but it overlooked a statistical joker-many of Germans were girls and almost all the Allied soldiers were boys.

Boys like girls. Allied soldiers liked girls without particular reference to whether the girls were German or Tibetan. The Non-Fraternization Act didn’t work.Fraternization

It didn’t work in so spectacular a fashion that its repercussions could be heard on both sides of the Atlantic. And so the act was modified. Born by decree, by decree it is dying. The American and British Armies are accepting human nature and documenting their acceptance.

The original ruling has now been modified so that GIs may now walk arm in arm along the streets if German towns with Germans girls. They may go to the beach with German girls. With lunch baskets under their arms, GIs and German girls may go into the fields together on picnics. Sometimes they go into the fields without lunch baskets.

The ruling had been meant to be a wartime security measure to keep soldiers from saying anything to Germans that the Germans might use for military purposes. It was designed to show the Germans that the Americans had come as conquerors, not as comrades, and it was stated in its official form with brass hat thoroughness. The order read, in part:

“Following must be prohibited: Visiting German home; drinking with Germans; shaking hands with them; playing games or sports with them; giving or accepting gifts; attending German dances or other social events; accompanying Germans on streets, in theaters, taverns, hotels or elsewhere (except on official business); discussions and arguments with Germans, especially on politics or the future of Germany”.

The GIs and even many German people agreed that the objectives of the decree were commendable, but, after the active combat had ended, serious difficulties arose over the best ways to attain these objectives. Almost as many people as agreed with the objectives disagreed with strict non-fraternization as a means to them.

Once the war was over, the GIs felt they had a right to talk to the Germans if they wanted to. The ban on political discussions riled them because they resented the implication that they were gullible bumpkins who could be tricked by the first smart Nazi who happened along. And they didn’t see any harm in giving a kid-German or otherwise-a stick of gum. And they hadn’t seen a girl in a long time and there were the Germans girls.

The German girls wore thin, tight dresses and they had a pleasant technique of walking down the streets so the sun would hit them just right. Maybe a lot of German material during the war went to parachutes. Anyway, German girls didn’t wear petticoats. At the beaches they wore swim suits about the size of a musette bag, without straps. They looked healthy. They looked good.

The GIs looked good, too. Many German men had been away for a long time. The girls winked at the GIs and smiled at them. Sometimes, when they walked down the streets, they would tap their backsides and say, “Verboten.” All this did nothing to lower the average GI’s temperature and it was a hot summer anyway.

Non-fraternization was violated so much that people compared it to prohibition. A staff sergeant in the 30th Infantry Division said there was one big difference between non-fraternization and prohibition-in the old days a guy could hide a bottle inside his coat for days at a time, but it was hard to keep a German girl quiet there for more than a couple of hours.

There was discussion and more discussion. Some GIs were opposed and are still opposed to fraternization. A corporal in the 2nd Armored said, “These sons of bitches shat at me in Africa, France and Germany and I don’t want anything to do with them. Of course, I’m married and I’m 34 years old; that makes a difference. Some of the younger guys without so much mileage on them feel otherwise”.

And while there was discussion and more discussion, the decree continued to be violated.

There was a major who got drunk, shot the lights out of his billet and stole a bicycle. Then he peddled the bicycle to the home of a fraulein.  The major was caught with his fraulein by the MPs. He was not tried for fraternization, but under the regulations defining the conduct of an officer and a gentleman. He was fined $2,400 and remained a major. A mathematical GI figured that his problematical fun had cost the major $800 a minute. It was very expensive, under the Non-Fraternization Act, to steal a bicycle.

The endless discussion and the endless violation added a new word to the vocabulary; frattin’ will be popular among veterans for years to come. It also forced action and reconsideration higher up.

First, the Army modified the law to allow GIs to play with German children. But there was still the problem of the GI boy and the German (non-child) girl.  The order underwent a further modification. Now GIs can shake hands and even hold them. And so on.

At the moment, visiting a German house is still barred. This, while it doesn’t worry the soldier who is only interested in frattin’ in its most publicized sense, works a hardship on the guy who is honestly interested in nothing more than a little family life.

Even before the ban was lifted, for example, one 10th Armored soldier was arrested in a Garmisch-Partenkirchen home where he had been living for two months. A German girl had invited him to meet her family. On his first visit everyone got along so famously that the family urged him to stay on in the spare room and he accepted. From then on he came to the house almost every evening on off-duty hours, played checkers with the old man, teased the kids and sat on the sofa with one or both of the two grown-up daughters. At bedtime he went to sleep in his own private room in the house, which had clean sheets and hot water and no other GIs to keep him awake. According to the testimony in his case, his relations with the family were just as platonic as that up to the day he was arrested.

Some troop commanders hope the final change permitting visiting homes will be made soon to finish off the hangover of hypocrisy that still remains from the days when the ban was in full force. They point out that the original order, which did not stop mingling between Germans and Americans, but narrowed it down simply to hush-hush sexual relations, destroyed both German and American respect for Army authority. It was fraternization without any of the good propaganda benefits that genuine fraternization may have. It led to miracles of legal interpretation like the standing joke that “copulation without conversation is not fraternization”.

And it had the dangerous result of increasing the venereal disease rate, which jumped in June in almost every outfit quartered in Germany. Both officers and men were reluctant to report to pro stations despite official promises that such visits would not be used as evidence of fraternization arrests.

Most men and officers accept the latest change as a big step in the right direction. But even among some of the U.S. military who enjoy their new privileges, there is sometimes a shadow of doubt.

An anonymous tank commander was close to it when he said, “Fraternization? Yeah, I suppose it’s all right. Anyway, I’ve been doing it right along. But every now and then I wake up in a cold sweat.

“What do I dream about? I dream that we are at war again, and the German bastards I’m fighting this time are my own.”

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