Day: May 15, 2016

The facts on the groundThe facts on the ground

“Resistance to integrating combat regiments ran deep. ‘A colored soldier cannot think fast enough to fight in armor,’ [General] Patton told his diary, and some argued that teaching black riflemen to shoot white Germans would lead to the shooting of white Americans at home. ‘We were going to make liars out of the whites,’ a black soldier later said. Another wrote, ‘I am an American negro, doing my part for the American government to make the world safe for a democracy I have never known.’ For many white combat soldiers in Germany, the simple truth was voiced by an artillery forward observer in the 394th Infantry: ‘We were short-handed and they were welcome.’ ” – Rick Atkinson, The Guns at Last Light

Unintended consequencesUnintended consequences

“Among those crossing the Rhine on March 12 [1945] was the 5th Platoon of Company K of the 394th Infantry Regiment. Singular only because they were black, these GI riflemen were among fifty-three platoons of ‘colored’ infantry mustered from volunteers to help remedy manpower shortages. Many had surrendered sergeant’s stripes earned as cooks, drivers, and laborers in black service battalions for the privilege of fighting as privates. ‘Hitler was the one that got us out of the white folks’ kitchen,’ one black observer later said.” – Rick Atkinson, The Guns at Last Light