Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Nazis + Bears = Best Buddies
Belgium. January, 1945 -- During the Siege of Bastogne, Nazi forces were huddled around a fire, trying to keep warm in the bitter cold. Temperatures in the Belgian forest that winter reached dangerous temperatures. Frostbite was common on both sides of the battle.
As the Axis troops were rubbing their exposed hands together, sharing cigarettes, a large bear waddled out of the woods. The Nazis panicked. They scrambled to grab automatic weapons to defend themselves against the bear. Right before the German troops opened fire, the bear stood up on his hind legs and flashed a Nazi salute. Some reports indicate the bear made a noise that could have been interpreted as a mumbled version of "Heil Hitler."
The Nazis lowered their weapons. Slowly, they approached the beast. The bear lowered his massive head to be patted and stroked. The Germans knew they had a bear sympathizer.
During the next few days, the bear -- who had come to be known as "Adalbert" -- assisted in securing the border of the Nazi camp. Adalbert was then named "Minister of Security" for the Bastogne encampment by General Heinrich Freiherr von Lüttwitz. The bear patroled the ground for another seven days. On the eighth day, the Nazi's and the bear found the time to pose for one picture. The only proof of Adalbert that exists.
Soon after, Allied troops broke through the Nazi ranks. Adalbert was shot in the head by Private Allan Konigsberg of Brooklyn New York. American soldiers enjoyed bear burgers for the next week and half.
"Nazis. I hate these guys."
(Photo via YBNBY)