Berlin, February 12, 2006
My first proper research trip to Germany. Sarah and I are going to be interviewing three former veterans, including one former member of the 16th Waffen-SS, the division largely responsible for the massacre at Monte Sole. Sarah has fixed up a very packed three days, although most of the time will be spent driving. Germany is pretty huge but the only practicable way of getting to see these people is to use the Autobahn, and so I have flown to Berlin. Sarah and Michael are kindly putting me up and then we have to be up at the crack of dawn to drive more 500 kilometres to Dusseldorf to see Franz Maassen, formerly of the 34th Infantry Division.
Sarah warned me that it is freezing cold in Berlin and that I should get a hire car with ice condition tires. Fortunately, in order to provide this, the car hire people at the airport had to upgrade me and gave me a 4×4 complete with sat nav. It worked a dream and got me directly to Sarah and Michael’s house, although not quite to their front door – I had to wander around in the dark, slipping on the compressed ice until I eventually gave up and rang Sarah. She came out and found me and all was well.