Two World War II veterans, one from Germany and one from Great Britain, met in honor of the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
While 75 years ago they were enemies, the emotional video of their meeting showed that peace and forgiveness can still be found, decades after the storming of Omaha Beach in Normandy, France.
“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,” Harry Read, a British soldier who was only 19 years old on D-Day, told United Kingdom outlet Channel 4 News before meeting his German counterpart.
“How can I be at odds with somebody?” he said. “I can’t, can I? I can’t. And whatever words I’m needing, they will come.”
The words certainly did come for Read, 95, who extended to his former enemy some eloquent brotherly love.
“I’m so glad to see you and to hold your hand,” Read told Paul Golz, who was only 18 years old on D-Day, when the news station brought them together at an ice cream shop. “Bless you.”
“We were on a different side, but we are partners together in the rebuilding of the world,” he said.
Golz, 94, recalled being asked to surrender by American troops on that fateful day, recalling that he wasn’t so much afraid of the Western Allies, but of the Russian troops. After the war, his Eastern German village became part of Poland, and his father was killed by Russian soldiers, and his sister was raped in the aftermath of Germany’s defeat.
Golz became a prisoner of war in Scotland and then the United States, where he learned English. He eventually joined the Diplomatic Service. Read went on to work at the Salvation Army after the war, and was one of several veterans who jumped out of planes to commemorate the anniversary.
While Read said that 75 years ago he would never have imagined meeting with a German soldier, his “common sense” told him that there had to be Germans who didn’t agree with the government.
The “peacefully minded,” as Read called them, “so often were silenced.”
Golz called upon the younger generation to “keep the peace,” during the conversation, and to remember the men who gave their life in the war.
“Now, we are friends,” Golz told Read when it was time to go.
“We are more than that,” Read told him, placing a hand on his chest. “We are brothers.”
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