The memories of war last a lifetime. Thankfully, however, the lines drawn during war do not last forever. Earlier this month, two veterans who fought on opposite sides during World War II met to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Read on for one of the most touching interviews ever…
Meet The Brave Veterans
Every year, across the world, people remember the day the Allied forces landed at Normandy in 1944, better known as D-Day. June 6 marks the beginning of the victory of the Allied forces, and Germany’s defeat. Annually, the countries involved, United States, Britain, Germany, France, Australia, as well as many others, hold public demonstrations, honoring those who served. This year is particularly important as this June 6 marks 75 years since the invasion of Normandy.
To commemorate the special anniversary, Britain’s Channel 4 News set up a fateful, touching meeting. Two men from opposing sides of World War II – a German veteran and a British veteran – agreed to meet and talk, as a symbol of peace and forgiveness.
Harry Read is a 95-year-old British citizen, who was 19-years-old on D-Day and fought for the Allied forces. Paul Golz, a 94-year-old German who fought for the Wehrmacht, was 18 years old during the invasion of Normandy.
Read said that 75 years ago he would’ve never imagined agreeing to meet, let alone talking with, a German soldier – but the “‘peacefully minded’ so often were silenced,” referring to Read’s belief there are Germans out there who did not agree with their country’s actions, which convinced him to meet the German veteran. Neither Read or Golz knew what the meeting would be like, or how the other would react. Read said, “I’m not sure what I’m going to say to him, I’m going to have to think about it. But I do know this: I will accept him. I can’t [be at odds with somebody].”
The Emotional Meeting
As you can imagine, the veterans felt a tad nervous before seeing each other. After all, they had fought against one another in their youths.
However, when the two met, they reached out with warm words for each other. Read said to his former enemy, “I’m so glad to see you and to hold your hand. Bless you. We were on a different side, but we are partners together in the rebuilding of the world.” Golz agreed and called future generations to “keep the peace” and always remember the men who gave their lives in order to protect their countries. The meeting turned into an extremely emotional, eye-opening experience for everyone.
Golz told his story; he recalled surrendering to American soldiers when they caught his troop on D-Day. From there, they shipped him to a Prisoner of War camp in Scotland, before sending him to the United States for questioning. When he returned home, the government had annexed Golz’s German village to Poland and the Russian army had killed his father. Like so many other veterans, Golz found in incredibly difficult to reintegrate back into society after World War II, understandably so. Golz’s story reminded everyone war doesn’t end when the government officially declares so. Rather, combatants need to deal with the aftermath of war for the rest of their lives, regardless of the side. To hear more from both men, watch their interview here.
“We Are Brothers”
However, the day didn’t just include emotional interviews. The veterans also had some fun! The British government selected Read, along with fellow English veteran John “Jock” Hutton, to commemorate D-Day with an incredible act: parachute into Normandy, assisted by the British Army’s Red Devils. Alongside them, a display of some 280 British and French paratroopers also landed. When the elderly veterans touched down, they gave everyone a thumbs up. Later Read told reporters, “I thought the jump was brilliant. The jump was wonderful in every way. I feel good. My health is good and my mind is still ticking away.”
Parachuting into Normandy, and meeting with veteran German soldier Golz, left Read extremely pleased and touched. Before the two left, Golz said, “Now, we are friends.” To which Read placed a hand on Golz’s chest, and replied, “We are more than that. We are brothers.”