- Historic Sites
The 36th Mission
He spent his tour of duty bombing German cities and made it home only to discover he could never leave the war behind him. Then, a lifetime later, he found a way to make peace.
May/June 1995 | Volume 46, Issue 3
I do not tend to trust politicians too much in general, but I feel myself in accordance with our Bundespräsident , Richard von Weizsäcker, who does, and did, the best for good human relations with his statements, for example in his famous memorial lecture in May 1985. One of his words, in free translation, was: “Those who suppress the [meaning: their bad] past, risk the great danger of a repetition.” We human beings, and particularly we Germans, should always remember what we did to other people.
I know about the awful losses of the USAAF particularly over Germany. . . . I agree with you if you mean that in a war the men in the front line are the least guilty.
Sincerely Volker Wilckens
Dear Comrade and Mr. Frank Clark:
I also was a soldier and had to follow orders in the years from 1939-1945 in good faith for our German Fatherland. . . . During the whole wartime I was only a front soldier with the infantry fighting in France, Russia, Denmark, Italy, and at the end back again in Russia. These were very hard years and life was unbearable for all soldiers. Our wives, mothers and children had to suffer even more back home through these massive bombardments of our cities, people were helpless and without any safety. They burned to death in these firestorms by the thousands, many were buried alive in tumbling houses and walls.
On one of my trips in July 1943 from Denmark to Braunschweig we passed the heavily bombed and burning city of Hamburg. I was deeply shocked. And it was done only to destroy the morale and faith of the German people. What must you have felt, dear Frank, as flier about these bombardments, knowing there were no military installations, only living quarters for women, mothers, children, and senior citizens which could not defend themselves. The only thing they had in that year of 1943 was their belief to their Germany, and is why these cities were bombed and demoralized even in 1944 when the end was near and there was no more resistance. A few days before war’s end bombs still fell and farmers in the fields and railroad trains loaded with people were killed by machine guns of hunting airplanes. I do not consider that as war. . . .
It must have been fun to exercise such flying art. German people are still blamed as of today for cruelty committed against Jewish people, unfortunately yes, and this unforgettable spot in history we will carry this burden forever. . . .
Today we live again in fear. Germany a great cultural and honest hardworking peace-loving people and proud nation broken off and torn (Yalta treaty). I believe someday in the future honest history will be written and many accusations have to be corrected and make up to Germany. . . .
July 27, 1987 Ed. Scharwächter GMBH & Co. KG Geschäftsleitung
Dear Mr. Clark:
In Germany you got known as “Pilot for Peace.”
The newspapers published your letter to the mayor of the city of Paderborn, Mr. Schwiete, and we could feel a sigh going through all of our nation, knowing there is a like-minded person, realizing that war is the continuation of a wrong policy. . . .
And as you put it so right, the guilty and unguilty are always the same and soldiers on both sides always fulfill their duties and you feel that on the other side there are humans too, only with a different uniform.
And here we feel very much the same as you, and we anticipate without knowing you that in behavior and thinking you are a true American, someone we hold in high esteem and whom we love.
Someone striving for peace can expect peace; only those who step in for peace will be accepted in heaven.
We are not the ones to point to heaven, yet we know that pure ideas always come from there.
As you intend to visit Paderborn, we would very much like to invite you to Remscheid.
As bureaucracy is not always fast to respond, we, however, as a supplier to the automotive industry, much as our product, can react much quicker, and thus would like to help you in financing your tour.
Please write us about what you intend to do in the future so that we are able to react accordingly.
We send you all our best wishes and remain
Yours sincerely, Richard Bremicker sen.
When I read Mr. Bremicker’s letter, I didn’t think anything would ever come of his invitation. Ruth and I had little money for necessities, let alone a trip to Germany. But Mr. Bremicker continued to invite me. Finally he sent a pair of air tickets.