RABBITS NERVE SENTRY ON DUTY IN 1944

I have returned home to Osijek late 1944 after I got my promotion to lieutenant-junior. I was assigned as an officer to the 1st howitzers' battery returning to Osijek in a new battle position there. Mother told me then about an exciting incident that happened at home few months ago.

Our house was in Krezmina Street No.5 in central and oldest part of Osijek called TVRDJA (= Citadel). At the eastern side of a wide street lined with two rows of Japanese cheery-trees stood individual residences. Each of these villas had a garden and a larger yard behind them. Fences between yards were of large-eyed mesh-wire spanning between concrete pillars and about 2 m high. Rear yard fences were more solid and made of boards nailed to strong beams spanning between concrete pillars too. Later height was about 2,5 m because of the adjacent sports' field behind.

Originally, we have had in our yard a solid built chicken house and large box for house and garden's offal. The later was emptied say in monthly interval at normal times. When I returned to Osijek the combat line was at the Drava River and nobody bothered about the regularities anymore. The German Army has occupied one of adjacent houses. Formerly it belonged Schmucklers, a Jewish family, who left on time before Nazis' came to power in Croatia in April 1941. Now, a German CO general resided in it and it was heavily guarded. There was a concrete flagstone footpath along the yard fence where a sentry in heavy army boots marched up and down day and night. Can you imagine what sounds make heavy boots with nailed soles on concrete flagstones during calm nights?


Peggy licks chinchila rabbit in mother's lap.

Our Dobermann Pintscher named "Peggy" 1939.

Mother has converted chicken's house into rabbit's pens first. Later, one attached a larger housing for rabbits made of timber where pens had a double flooring simplifying the cleaning. Mother's rabbit farm has thrived and they had enough meat during those war days without any meat supply except for very little issued on ration cards. Mother learned how to prepare rabbit's meat spicing it for good taste. Also, there were skins after adequate cleaning and treatment allowed skilled hands making needed warming utensil.

At wee-hours of a dark night there was loud banging on the main door. Father got up, took a torch (with blue pane) and went cautiously down to see what's all about that noisy hammering at his lawyer's office entrance. Seeing shadows of uniformed persons behind window's blinder asked before unlocking the door: "Who are you? What do you want?" Answer came barking loud: "Army Police -open door and come out instantly!" Slightly opening door father saw two armed helmeted police officers with the distinctive breath plate straining a light beam strait at him. Father went down the few steps followed by officers. They've readied their MPs (machine pistol) as they went around house driving father towards pens. Suddenly, several loud bangs came out from one of rabbit's pen. Officers froze to a standstill barking out at father: "What's that? Who or what makes such a racket?" Father just couldn't withhold a rugged tune in
his answer saying: "There're rabbits in! Want to see?" Unbelieving officer strained light beam onto pens out which several tough bangs sounded again.


Young brown rabbit

Young chinchila rabbit

In the meantime mother got up and met three men back at the front door now. After father explained the cause uproar and the officer's apologies for his disturbance, mother's bewilderment has lessened. Then mother commented: "It must one of those male rabbits tapping on wooden floor. It must have been sentry whose boots sounded similarly when marching on concrete behind pens."


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