Parachuting into the Emsland

Editors Note:  Jupp Kappius relating his experiences; excerpt.  From “Deutschland im Ersten Nachkiregsjahr” (Germany’s First Year After the War”), Volume 10: “Berichte von Mitgliedern des Internationalen Sozialistischen Kampfbundes (ISK) aus dem besetzten Deutschland 1945/46”.


On September 1, 1944, at 24.00hr., I was dropped into Germany as good as exactly on the prearranged pinpoint.  It was a perfect landing with no wind going and a bright full moon shining.  While I was swinging in the air after the parachute opened I was suddenly startled by a strong light shining full in my face which I first thought to be searchlight but which a little later I realized was the reflection of the moon in some nearby water.

fullmoon

After folding up the chute I carried my suitcase and chute over to a wood some 4-500 yards away where I arrived completely exhausted so I had a two hour sleep after which I started digging a hole to bury the chute.  The strip-tease I buried separately and afterwards covered both places with leaves and fallen branches.  The spade I buried in two parts, hitting the blade into the ground until it had completely disappeared.  The handle went into the ditch.

Here I should like to relate an experience which might be of interest for future occasions.  After finishing the burial I was again very tired, a state which was probably caused not so much by the physical exertion but rather by the mental strain of dropping alone from a plane into something which was rather experimental.  It was then that I suddenly noticed I had lost my identification disc.  It had been there while I was digging, because I noticed it had got loose and slipped from the neck right down to the ankles.  But when I got out of the strip-tease I had not remembered to look for it and now it was gone.  I looked for it all over the ground but could not find it again.  Probably it was buried together with the strip suit, only I couldn’t be sure.  The moon light was fading already and anyway it was a terrible blunder to loose so important a piece of identification just at that particular spot.  It was then that I experienced a period of extreme despair and a strong temptation to give up there and then, realising, or rather magnifying, the difficulties of the task ahead of me and on the other hand despairing of my abilities to go through with it.  How could I be confident any longer after such a terrible blunder right at the start?

It took several hours to come out of this awful state of mind, the sense of duty finally getting the upper hand and confidence being restored to the point that I could at least try to do the job I had undertaken.

The temptation to give up would not have been so strong had I not been in such a weak condition physically and it might have made things much easier had I had a strong stimulant, a drug or some thing, which could have helped from the physical side to overcome that state of despair.  As it was, I had to fight it out mentally with a physical handicap which could have become a fatal factor.

The success of a mission may be endangered, in my opinion, by such a mood of despair which springs from the realisation that a dangerous situation has been created through one’s own carelessness – or some other mistake – which, when coupled with extreme fatigue, is very hard to overcome.

When it was light enough that it could be safely assumed people would be on the roads – around 8.30 or so – I left the wood and took the road.  I was first going in the wrong direction which I found out when I asked a little girl how far it was to the small town where I had to catch a train.  This error was due to my mistaking a side road for the main road.  So I turned back pretending that someone had told me wrong.  I had about 7 or 8 km to walk, meeting quite a few people on the road, among them PoWs with their guards.  My first job was to try and find out the kind of greeting they exchange in the area, which I did by giving the first man I met the impression I was going to pass the usual greeting and yet hesitating just that little which gave him time to say it first.  It was “Good morning” and then I knew.

Wappen_soegelThere were no difficulties in finding the station Soegel, where I found I had to wait about two hours for the train to arrive.  There were quite a few people moving around in the station area, PoWs, foreign women workers, field gendarmery and railway police, and I made up my mind it would be better to sit outside in the open rather than to sit inside in that tiny waiting room, where I might have been more conspicuous.  Nobody bothered about me, and when it got nearer the time the train was due more people collected at the station; there was quite a crowd when it finally arrived.  I used my “kleiner Wehrmachtsfahrschein”, which was accepted without any ado.  I changed fro a main line train, and had to change again at Rheine and Muenster, staying on the platform until my train arrived.  There seemed to be no special Wehrmacht-compartments on the train, as soldiers and civilians mixed freely.  I exchanged small talk with fellow travellers, soldiers and civilians, and felt quite confident and at ease.  There was no political talk except to a miner whom I met when the train reached the Ruhr who passed a few remarks about whitehaired soldiers whom we saw on the station platform and about air-raid damage in Wanne-Eickel.

At Gelsenkirchen I left the train as my ticket gave Gelsenkirchen as my destination, – a Feldwebel had told me on the train they were very strict now about Wehrmacht people not going exactly to the station named on their ticket.  He himself was worrying whether he could get a connection at Wanne-Eickel although the train would have taken him to a station near his destination to which, however, he didnt’ dare to go because his ticket showed another destination.

At the station were a MP and a plain clothes PO inspecting papers, but I passed without being stopped, as the plain clothed was called over to the MP for some reason when I passed the barrier.  From Gelsenkirchen I took the train to Bochum where I arrived at my safe address around 23.30 on the 2nd of September, 1944, very tired and hungry.  I knew the people there and they received me without much ado, being quite happy and excited to see me.

bochum_wappen-300x300.jpg

I stayed at the address, except for short interruptions, until around the middle of January, 1945, when the place got hot on account of the Gestapo making investigations not directly connected with me, of which I’ll report later on.  For that reason I had to move about, staying at several addresses consecutively for short periods, only except for one where I lived for 4 weeks.  These addresses were in Bochum, Witten, Gedem, Essen and Werden.

On Monday, the 9th of April, 1945, I crossed the lines at Steele/Ruhr about 22.00hrs., establishing contact with American Troops.

[Jupp Kappius from London, May 10th, 1945]

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