World War 2
Felix's service is cited as an
example, five of his photos and one of his documents are used in this
article on the occupation of Germany.
FLIRTING TIPS FOR THE ENEMY COUNTRY
From EINSTAGES Spiegel Zeitgeschichten
auf Spiegel Online
How does one ask in German for the
bathroom? A little guide book was designed to help US soldiers to know
their way around in occupied Germany. The “Pocket Guide to Germany”
contained valuable information, many clichés, and even served as
a flirting guide. Now, the historical document is making a comeback.
by Alice Kohli
“Ish bin ah-may-ree-KA-ner. (English: I am American. German: Ich bin
Amerikaner). BIT-tuh HEL-fen zee meer“. (English: Please help me.
German: Bitte helfen Sie mir). In such a similar fashion, the American
army truck driver Felix A. Cizewski from Wisconsin could have
introduced himself to a German, if he were to ask for directions in the
streets of Munich in 1945. He would have found this helpful phrase in
the “Pocket Guide to Germany”, a handy pocket book of the US army.
The spectrum of common use phrases includes the sound alphabet, German
grammar, and English translation, which should not only aid the GIs
with problems concerning their survival but also ensure easy
communication in mundane situations in order to prevent
misunderstandings from happening with natives – like the one very
practical question mentioned above “VO is tai-nuh two-LET-tuh?”
(English: Where is a bathroom? German: Wo ist eine Toilette?).
As humorous as these pronunciation aides are to read such as the
following exclamations like “DEK-koong” (English: cover German:
Deckung ) and “guh-FAR” (English: danger German: Gefahr ), they
also serve as a reminder of the dramatic conditions, in which the
pocket book was conceived. The pocket book guide was written in 1944 by
German experts of the Morale Service Division, who were responsible for
the fighting spirit of US troops. The little book should inform the US
soldiers at least about the important facts of the country which they
were about to conquer and occupy: Germany.
“Lead and Lies”
On June 6th, 1944 the Allied forces landed in Normandy; on October
21st, their troops conquered Aachen, the first big city on German soil.
At this time around two million editions of the helpful pocket book
guide were in circulation among American soldiers, which not only
offered practical survival skills but contained basic geographical
information like: (“in central Germany is a mountain range similar to
the Catskills or the Blue Ridge”), explanations of the agriculture,
information about the weather conditions (“The climate of Germany
reminds one of the US East Coast around the area of Baltimore and
Additionally, the reason for the GIs presence was enforced one more
time: “The occupation of Germany will give you your chance to build up
a personal guarantee that as soon as you turn your back to go home, the
Germans will not pick up their shooting irons and start throwing lead
and lies at an unsuspecting world once more.”
However, after the war, the pocket guide was soon forgotten. Most
editions stuck tattered in the backpacks of the returning GIs and
collected dust in basements or attics; disposed of like school books
after a successful exam. The copy of the army truck driver Felix A.
Cizewski from Chicago was found in his estate by his son Leonard in
Cowboys, Indians, rich uncles
The book of etiquette for soldiers disappeared as such from the
collective memory, which had imprinted a picture of Germany on millions
of Americans. It was only in 2004 that the Bonn House of History
re-published new copies of the traveling guide of a different kind.
Now, for the first time, the pocket guide is available in a bilingual
including an extensive commentary – as a document of
international understanding, which back then was not quite the case. In
1944, Germans and Americans were as foreign to each other as never
before and never again. “You will discover that many Germans grew up
with the opinion that America is inhabited by cowboys, Indians, and
rich uncles”, the primer warned the readers of the prejudices of the
German population against their homeland.
Despite the fact that among the authors were German immigrants,
sweeping sttements were made like this one, for example: “The German
youth may be a nice-looking chap, but the difference to American
teenagers is to be found inside him – in his character”; and under the
title “Danger Keep your distance” the pocket book warns strongly:
“Keep in mind that eleven years ago a majority of Germans through
election helped the Nazis to power. The entire German population has
read Hitler’s ‘My struggle’”.
Original training film for
American soldiers: "Your Job in Germany"
The description of the two countries sizing each other up seems today
at times like an embarrassing family gathering of quarreling siblings,
who only reluctantly join hands. The soldiers should not act grouchy
advised the US War Department but it nevertheless asked for restraint:
“At home you only had to deal superficially with many people. You were
polite to them, but have never discussed private matters, told them
secrets or pulled them into confidence”, the pocket guide lectured:
“You should orient yourselves towards this attitude.”
“DO NOT FRATERNIZE” –
friendship is forbidden: This warning could be read in capital letters
on the cover of the pocket guide. Yet the editors were well aware that
the booklet would help to foster fraternization. In small letters one
could find then, after the explanations of the German healthcare
system, a chapter titled “Marriage Facts”, valuable information about
marriage ceremonies. A marriage with a foreign woman would be a
complicated event, warn the authors in the passage and point towards
the different legal problems. This one or the other German-American
marriage may have nonetheless begun with a clumsy phrase from the
pocket guide – cleverly employed, the pocket guide could very well
function as a flirting device: VAHN buh-GINT dahss KEE-no, FROY-lain
SHMIT? (English: When does the cinema start, Miss Schmitt? German: Wann
beginnt das Kino, Fräulein Schmitt?)
of photo captions:
US occupiers in Heidelberg: “Before the war American tourists poured
into Germany during the summer in order to visit the Rhine with its old
castles, the Black Forest, the Bavarian Alps and medieval cities like
Brandenburg by Berlin”, reads chapter three in the 1944 pocket guide.
“Today Americans do not come as tourists to enjoy the scenery but
rather as soldiers with a military order.”
Do not Fraternize: The sticker on the title page of the “Pocket Guide
to Germany” was to emphasize to its readers that any friendship with
Germans was undesirable.
Landing in Normandy: In the morning of June 6th, 1944, the long awaited
Allied invasion began in Normandy. In October Allied forces occupied
the first German cities. Around two million copies of the “Pocket Guide
to Germany” had already been distributed.
Your mission in Germany: “The occupation of Germany will give you your
chance to build up a personal guarantee that as soon as you turn your
back to go home, the Germans will not pick up their shooting irons and
start throwing lead and lies at an unsuspecting world once more.”
(From: “Pocket Guide to Germany”)
GIs in Hessen: The American occupation forces find a traumatized civil
population, worn down from the war.
Contents of the “Pocket Guide”: The “Pocket Guide to Germany” offered
with barely 40 pages the most important information for American
soldiers – and answers to questions like: What is the Second World War
about? What happened in Germany and how did it come to this situation?
How do I politely keep my distance from the population?
German civil workers: Under the watchful eyes of American guards
Germans must dig up graves in the beginning of 1945.
Back cover of the pocket guide: Welcome to Schilderwald The last
page of the pocket guide included a practical compilation of the most
important signs in Germany.
Felix A. Cizewski in Munich: In the background is a pick up truck of
the type MAN F8. If the motor pool and army dispatcher were to have
lost sight of his buddies the pocket guide would help him: “VO ZINT dee
a-may-ree-KA-nee-shen zawl DA-ten?” (English: Where are the American
soldiers? German: Wo sind die amerikanischen Soldaten?)
Eisenhower’s order of the day: “The eyes of the world are upon you. The
hopes and prayer of liberty – loving people everywhere march with you.
In company with our brave Allies and brothers-in-arms on other Fronts,
you will bring about the destruction of the German war machine.” US
commander-in-chief Dwight D. Eisenhower had this order of the day from
June 6th, 1944 distributed to the invasion troops. Felix A Cizewski
carried this page with him until the end of the war; his son found it
along with Cizewski’s copy of the “Pocket Guide” in his estate.
National Socialist art temple as US-casino: Felix A. Cizewski poses
comrades on the steps of the “Haus der Deutschen Kunst” (The House of
German Art) in Munich. The American occupation used the building as an
In the lion’s den: GIs in front of Hitler’s mountain residence in
Obersalzberg in 1945. Today the Kehlstein (stone) house in the
Berchtesgarden countryside is a popular tourist destination for
GI in front of a FW 190: “Bach, Germany” is written ons the backside of
the picture from the estate of the US veteran Felix A. Cizewski
(copyright Leonard H. Cizewski), which was
probably taken in May 1945. The airplane is a Fokker Wolf 190 with the
title inscripted “Verkaaft’s mei Gwand, I foahr in Himmel” (English:
Sell my clothing, I am going to heaven). Even with his pocket guide,
Cizewski might have had difficulties in understanding this phrase.
After the war propaganda: The movie “Your Job in Germany” belonged to a
series of educational films, which the Oscar winner American film
producer Frank Capra (Arsenic and Old Lace) made for the US army. The
film warned the GIs, who have been deployed to occupy Germany, not to
Felix A. Cizewski in Fürstenfeldbruck: The 45th Infantry Division
was stationed around Munich after the liberation of the Dachau
concentration camp. Cizewski never spoke about his experiences in
Dachau, according to his son. But throughout his life he kept a copy of
the news letter of the 45th Division in which the Dachau’s liberation
had been mentioned. The pocket guide could not prepare the American GIs
for the horrors of the concentration camps.
Translation from German by