The Day the Germans Came…
Today I went for a ride with Arturo (my host in Guadalajara) and a family friend of his, an investigative journalist. We were on our way to family dinner (it happens every Tuesday) and the journalist told me the story of a very small town in Mexico that had been cut off from the rest of the country for quite a while.
She visited the town and encountered 82 year old man who began to reminisce. He reflected back to 1944, when he was 12.
His town, whose name I could not understand, had only one radio. It was their only connection to the outside world. The radio, which was powered by the mill, only worked when the mill worked. The whole town listened to it.
From the radio they heard snippets of details about World War II. They new there was war. They new the Germans were not part of the Allies. They didn’t know where the war was.
One day they heard on the radio that the Mexican army wanted to recruit able bodied men over 18 years old. This sent the men of the town into hiding for a brief period. They were afraid of going to war – it was a small and pleasant town, not used to change. Once the calmed from the notice of recruitment town settled into what we could now call a “heightened state of awareness”.
It was at this point that the owner of the town cantina began to sit out front of the town office and watch the hills with his binoculars. He was the only person in the town with binoculars. As he watched the hills he noticed something amassing, he told people it was an army, and from the way they stood so still they must be Germans.
Others used the binoculars but could only make out a small blur on the horizon. The cantina owner, however, insisted that it was the Germans.
That night they held a meeting and decided to form a militia and go meet the Germans. The next day they trained for war. There was only a single shot rifle with bullets and several pistols (which didn’t have ammunition) so their training consisted of how to walk, march, and have the stature of a real militia. Night passed and in the morning the women of the town wept as their men marched solemnly to the hills to face the Germans.
On the way they men encountered a shepherd who knew nothing of the approaching army. They searched for three days but found nothing – there were no Germans, they were just a creation of the cantina owner who was too bored. The men were so mad at the cantina owner they would not let him stay with the militia and forced him to leave them while they were in the mountains.
Once the men returned they were still so concerned the Germans could be coming that they shot anything that came towards the town (using the only rifle). It was 3 weeks before the town stopped shooting and the cantina owner could return to the town.
I thought this was hilarious! It also goes to show it’s never good to lie! (you could end up getting shot at!)
The town remembers this story as “The Day the Germans Came”…it was the most exciting thing that happened to the town in years.