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John Manke is an active former Bay View resident who is involved in numerous neighborhood organizations, including the Bay View Historical Society, the Humboldt Park Fourth of July Association and the Shore Shore Farmers Market. He believes Bay View has a fine tradition in its past that we do not want to lose in the future.

How the American soldiers caught English speaking Germans//Battle of the Bulge

 During the Battle of the Bulge in World War II, the German Army sent English speaking German soldiers to confuse our men and to try to kill as many leaders of ours as they could. Many of these soldiers had Military Police emblems on their uniforms. They changed the directions on the signs pointing out which direction to go to each city in the area. They had taken uniforms from either dead American soldiers or from American Prisoners of War. Many of these soldiers had lived in America at one time or had a good knowledge of the American way of speaking. Because they had left America long ago,  they were not aware of some current happenings here. When we found out about these infiltrators, we had to devise a way to catch them before they did any more damage to our troops. One question that we asked was:" What is the second verse to the Star Spangled Banner?"  Only members of other countries knew the second verse, the normal GI would tell the questioner to "Go to Hell!" or " I don't know!"  Most of the Germans knew the second verse. Another question asked was if Babe Ruth still played football in Boston. Another question was if they ever watched a named baseball team play baseball in a named basketball field house. Sport questions were the main questions given to any unknown soldier. Also asked was if they had ever see a certain national landmark and named the wrong city that it was in. The Germans would know about the landmark, but not remember which city it was in. They also knew about our sports teams, however they did not remember which sport that they played. If the man questioned was very argumentative, they knew most likely that he was a real GI. The Germans would patiently try to answer the questions asked to them. If we caught an error in the answer and we still had doubts, we might ask a second question to them. After the first false answer, guns were on the ready to dispose of the man if necessary. We were able to catch most of these German soldiers. Some were killed in self defense. If a man sneezed, and he accidentally spoke German, we had him caught. Sometimes it is the little things that betray an enemy. You can't make a mistake if you are behind enemy lines. Our American soldiers also went behind enemy lines. They had to be very careful not to attract any attention to themselves. They had to blend in as a native would. This way we could find out where their troops were placed and in what amounts. Any sighting of tanks or armored equipment were important to our troops. If you were caught behind enemy lines, you had no protection of the Geneva Convention, and could be shot on sight without a trial. Both armies faced that hurdle. War is not fun, and many soldiers have lost their lives protecting us from the enemy.  We should honor our vets and thank them for what they have done for us.

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