Aug 152012
 

I am off to Berlin, again! I know it’s incredible for a Cat to visit the capital of a nation that he doesn’t particularly like so often, but the more I tell the Germans and in particular Berliners that I dislike them the more they ask me back!

Is there a cunning plan here? I wonder if they are trying to win me over by paying for my visits with luxury travel and five star hotels? Or are they just trying to wear me down? Who can tell what is behind those honest blue eyes under that pure blonde hair, I can’t for one, but that is mainly because the buggers are so tall I can’t look into their blue eyes pure or not!

BGate

So here I go for another four days of noisy Berliners I know it won’t be fun. The worst thing about Berlin frankly is not the place it’s the lifts (elevators to some), the lifts are, I have to say here, very much like lifts all around the world, some have scary glass sides, some are dark places with mood music for murderers and most, if not all, of the lifts in Berlin are filed to the brim with large tubby female Germans in their late teens and twenties making the sort of noise that if it came out of an aeroplane would ensure that it never flew again.

Here I was going to ramble on about Berlin and complain a lot, but I think that in the above two paragraphs you my dear cuddly readers can see my point! So instead of a tirade I thought that I would tell you about a little known fact, I heard from a reliable source, yes ok it was my good friend Ginger who’s reliability does occasionally come in to question on an hourly basis! But here it is anyway

Apparently there is a rogue British soldier whose shadowy presence haunts the people of Berlin (which thinking about it is probably the reason they are so loud), who doesn’t know that the war is over.

Private Tommy Strand fought his way from the Normandy Beaches to Berlin in the WWII. Now the fact that there were any nations other than the Americans fighting at Normandy may come as a surprise to people who only watch Band of Brothers or any Spielberg movie including the one whose name I can’t remember at the moment but had the name ‘Ryan’ in the title I think.

British at Normandy

Anyway, Tommy Strand always seemed to be part of the next ‘big push’ and the only break the poor devil caught was that he wasn’t part of Operation Market Garden the peabrain plan of the idiot general known as Mad Monty.

Instead of landing in Arnhem and becoming a prisoner of war Private Strand marched and fought his way to the heart of Germany and the capital, which is Berlin for those of you who are only scan reading this blog.

As you can imagine along the way many of the soldiers who fought and forced their way into Hitler’s front garden were affected, millions lost their friends, hundreds of thousands lost their lives, many sadly lost their minds and when the fighting stopped and the Germans almost to a man and woman decided that Hitler’s ideas were not so bloody clever and they had only been following orders anyway it was difficult for the occupying soldiers to adjust.

For poor demented Private Strand it was more than difficult, it was impossible and with his gun of the same name strapped to his back (no not a Strand Gun, a Tommy Gun duh!) and a weeks forth of Corned Beef sandwiches Tommy Strand went native which because Berlin was completely flattened was in effect ‘underground.’

For years Tommy Strand haunted the occupying armies and defeated Berliners by firing his machine gun at night, stealing cigarettes, Beer and Corned Beef sandwiches from the NAAFI which is a sort of trading organisation for the British Forces that not only feeds soldiers but also sells them cheap cigarettes and booze at rates so attractive that it almost encourages lung cancer and alcoholism and of course alcohol and cigarettes are two things that can get a soldier into trouble is they are caught using them on duty.

At first the British Army working with members of the local police, retired SS Officers and others, who were not lucky enough to be Rocket Scientists and were stranded in Berlin, searched for Tommy but the searches only turned up chewed crusts from Corned Beef sandwiches and empty Beer bottles.

It was as if Tommy Strand had become a ghost and would, because of his cleverness at not being found, become something worse a legend and so to avoid embarrassment it was decided in Whitehall and Downing Street that Private Tommy Strand would just simply have to disappear and be ‘unremembered’ a technique which had been learned from the British Allies across the Rhine.

And so in the late summer of 1945 it was decided that Private Tommy Strand should be ‘disappeared’ from memory and any official documents, but never from the nighttime in Berlin nor as the scourge of NAAFI, nor from the mind of some of his superiors who secretly and unofficially continue searching for Tommy, one of the reasons that there are still military bases in Germany, I am afraid I can’t tell you the ‘other’ reasons.

NAAFI Stores

From time to time a clever photographer would catch sight and if he was lucky ‘snap’ Tommy Strand in the daylight, on a Corned Beef sandwich run. You would think that a soldier dressed in antique battle dress carrying a similarly antique machine gun would be easy to spot but you have to remember Tommy was clever and not spotted or as the British Army discovered easily found either and of course these were simpler times as were the people, they believed Churchill after all, to say nothing of the other chap with the moustache of course.

Below is the last know picture of Private Tommy Strand in front of the Brandenburg Gate in the spring of 1963. It is believed that soon after this picture was taken Tommy ran out of bullets for his treasured and ever so noisy machine gun and worse the British Army no longer kept stores of that calibre in their ammunition dump under the old Reich Chancellery – oops I may have said too much there!

Soldier in Berlin

The picture below which was recently declassified shows British Military Police searching for Tommy in 1989. It wasn’t long after this picture was taken that the search officially petered out, many said that the reason for the search being called off was that Tommy was just to wily, too clever for the searchers, as one Major said “I admire Private Tommy Strand in a way, you know, clever bugger, bloody clever, he probably has a very big hideout somewhere, I admire that too! Oh is that the time, must dash Tea in the officers mess in five!”

Military Police searching

Others believe that because of the thaw in relations with the Soviet Empire and the fall of the Berlin Wall, which increased the search area enormously, the military simply lost interest in finding their errant private, who if he had stayed in the military and taken advantages of the comprehensive training and various education packages available could have rise through the ranks.

As a Colonel (who wished remain anonymous) said.

“If Private Strand had stayed in the Army and not gone awol by now he may well have been a General and in charge of the search for himself, err himself. Mind you he would be 74 today and that is a bit old even for a General!”

Now I bet you didn’t know that did you!


About the Author

The Cat Portrait2

The Cat is one of the most successful feline authors in the history of Catkind. His sharp elegant wit has produced the bestselling book ‘Getting Out – Excerpts from a Cat’s Diary’ and of course the much plagiarised gag of the same name which appears on all of the funniest joke sites on the internet.

Copies of the Cat’s masterpiece of feline literature ‘Getting Out – Excerpts from a Cat’s Diary’ and his latest wonderful book ‘The Cat’s Travelogue’ can be purchased at a bookstore near you or from the internet at Amazon.com and here for the Travelogue The Cat’s Travelogue Paperback Edition or at what The Cat calls his www – wickedly wonderful website here www.thecatsdiary.com where you can not only learn more about me the genius Cat but also play my games they are all paw picked by me and have been described as “exactly what free on-line games should be, fun, free and fantastic.”

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Jun 262012
 

As followers of my blog may remember this weekend I followed in the footsteps of the Red Army and progressed through Poland, into the old GDR (East Germany sans Erich Honnecker obviously) and then on to Berlin.

Unlike the Red Army, after the war, I returned home, but I have come back with some great pictures.

Here is one of Görlitz, a medieval town that lies on the banks of the river Lusatian Neisse. Today they say that Görlitz is opposite the Polish town of Zgorzelec but actually they were the same town until 1945 but that doesn’t detract from its beauty.

Gorlitz

The town is so picturesque that several movies have been shot there, ‘The Reader,’ ‘Inglourious Basterds’ and ‘Around the World in 80 Days’ to name the only three I know, mind you I can dazzle you a little and show I was listening to the chap who was telling me all of this and now mention that Quentin Tarantino shot the movie-in-a-movie ‘Stolz der Nation (Pride of the Nation)’ for ‘Inglourious Basterds.’ Unfortunately for Görlitz the location of the story is Sicily!

The folks who made ‘Around the World in 80 Days’ used Görlitz as a location and shot the ‘Paris’ footage there, if you see what I mean.

So now onto the sign which I thought was rather jolly! It’s in German, a language that likes to bolt words together like oh I don’t know um… ‘Schwangerschaftverhütungsmittel’ which means contraceptive or even better ‘Unkameradschaftlichkeit’ which is a form (as if there are different types!!!) of unsporting-like behaviour!

Don t miss this in Germany

Yes you read it correctly and no I am not going illuminate here, I think it’s sufficient to say that the Germans have a ‘place’ for people who are old and a little unsavoury – must be all that sauerkraut I imagine!


About the Author

The Cat Portrait2

The Cat is one of the most successful feline authors in the history of Catkind. His sharp elegant wit has produced the bestselling book ‘Getting Out – Excerpts from a Cat’s Diary’ and of course the much plagiarised gag of the same name which appears on all of the funniest joke sites on the internet.

Copies of the Cat’s masterpiece of feline literature ‘Getting Out – Excerpts from a Cat’s Diary’ and his latest wonderful book ‘The Cat’s Travelogue’ can be purchased at a bookstore near you or from the internet at Amazon.com and here for the Travelogue The Cat’s Travelogue Paperback Edition or at what The Cat calls his www – wickedly wonderful website here www.thecatsdiary.com where you can not only learn more about me the genius Cat but also play my games they are all paw picked by me and have been described as “exactly what free on-line games should be, fun, free and fantastic.”

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Feb 282012
 

Before you say I am misquoting Mr Kennedy the title is right, Ich bin kein Berliner or “I am not a Berliner,” because I am simply not fond enough of Berlin to say that I am. I have to also say that neither am I a sort of doughnut either and between you and I, I think that you would have to be quite mad to say that you are either of them! But unfortunately I had to be in Berlin again this week.

So this is the second time in two years that I have washed up on the wide open plazas of Berlin, which were landscaped by the RAF and invading Allied forces, and I have to say that the modern replacements to the old buildings that stood before the “don’t mention the war” are really not very nice.

Of course you will remember what happened the last time I was in Berlin if you have read my amazingly successful second masterpiece of feline literature ‘The Cat’s Travelogue’ available from all good book shops and even some really rather dodgy ones too and of course here at Amazon – just click here Amazon.co.uk for the UK and here Amazon.com for the US and if you haven’t read it you can change that terrible social faux pas and we will say nothing more about it.

Bundestag2

Don’t get me wrong there are some nice places in Berlin, but this time I was down by the river and surrounded by the new awful government buildings of the new unified Germany – the river (and symbolic east/west spanning) Bundestag for example.

These are brutal new structures are actually so terrifying that the Germans have to add to the ruin of the environment by leaving all of the lights on in them at night, just so that Berliners and casual but easily frightened visitors (me for e.g.) don’t leave the city in a mass panicky exodus. Frankly even by day it’s all just awful, large ugly buildings in acres upon acres of space on a scale that is just plain ‘Dallas!’

The area around the Berlin Hauptbahnhof (or Berlin Central Station) has been hacked to bits so that new and probably unwanted modern concrete buildings can be built by the dozen and thousands of Mercedes taxis can ply their trade on wide roads which means that the the lovely old Trams from the east side have been dumped in the name of progress which is a terrible environmental mistake.

Berlin Hauptbahnhof

I would say more but I’m in a hurry to get out of the path of some enormous, tough looking, loud Germans who are crashing down the Straße they are obviously looking for trouble and a Cat writing detrimental things about their new capital might just tip them over the edge, what a shame there aren’t any men amongst them to calm them down a little. Yes German women frighten me almost as much as the new buildings here!

All I can say is I can’t wait to get back to sleepy, safe Prague, I am lucky to live in a pretty fab place.

PS and nothing whatsoever to do with the above article or the price of Prawns, it has just occurred to me that the world hasn’t heard from that arch tax dodger and humanitarian big mouth Bono recently – hasn’t it been nice and quiet!

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