Stodghill Says So

An opinionated posting on a variety of subjects by a former newspaper reporter and columnist whose daily column was named best in Indiana by UPI. The Blog title is that used in his high school sports predictions for the Muncie Evening Press.

My Photo
Location: Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, United States

At the age of 18 I was a 4th Infantry Division rifleman in the invasion of Normandy, then later was called back for the Korean War. Put in a couple of years as a Pinkerton detective. Much of my life was spent as a newspaper reporter, sports writer and daily columnist. Published three books on high school sports in Ohio and Indiana. I write mystery fiction for Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine and others. Three books, Normandy 1944 - A Young Rifleman's War, The Hoosier Hot Shots, and From Devout Catholic to Communist Agitator are now available from Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other booksellers. So are four collections of short mysteries: Jack Eddy Stories Volumes 1 and 2, Midland Murders, and The Rough Old Stuff From Mike Shayne Mystery Magazine.

Powered By Blogger TM

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Three Little Girls

This morning for no particular reason I was thinking about a day thirty years ago in a courtroom in Hartford City, Indiana. Before the proceedings began a little girl of about three was playing with a toy in the center aisle of the spectator area.
When the defendant was brought in the little girl looked up from her play, saw the man and cried, “Daddy!” She went running down the aisle and had reached the barrier before her mother caught up and led her back to a seat.
Over the years I have sometimes wondered who it was that one day had to tell her that Roger Drollinger, the man she called daddy, was a mass murderer, the leader of a group of hellions who committed the Hollandsburg Massacre. I’m glad it wasn’t me.
That brought back the memory of a sunny summer morning in the Normandy town of Villedieu. Only rear-echelon troops were there when we arrived, no German infantry. Before those rear-echelon troops departed, civilians told us, they had used a saw-tooth bayonet (infantrymen didn’t carry them, knowing it would mean summary execution if captured) to cut off the leg of another three-year-old girl. I wondered, and still do today, what sort of men would have done such a thing.
That brought on yet another memory, this one of a small wooden memorial I first saw in 1945 in the town of Marchienne-au-Pont, a suburb of Charleroi, Belgium. It was a temporary monument put up immediately after the Germans had been driven out of the area. Originally there had been one of stone but the Germans had destroyed it when they again invaded Belgium in 1940.
Both the original and the replacement were tributes to an eleven-year-old girl named Yvonne Vielet. During the First World War of 1914-18, major battles were fought to the west and southwest of the town. French and British prisoners were marched through Marchienne on the way to camps in Germany. The Belgian citizens were warned not to give them food under penalty of death.
On her way to school one morning, Yvonne Vielet gave a small bun to a French prisoner resting beside the road. She was seen by Germans, taken into custody and ordered executed. A firing squad did the job. What sort of men, I wondered, were her captors?
The wooden memorial I saw in 1945 was replaced as quickly as possible by a new stone monument. We saw it during a visit there forty years later. There was no need to explain what it was I was looking for; any Belgian living in the vicinity knew its location.
After that Second World War I became acquainted with many former German soldiers and know that neither of those events was at all typical of Germans. Passions can run high in time of war, but only a certain type of man could commit such cold-blooded acts. Unfortunately you find that type in every country, including this one. How does a person reach that stage? I can’t imagine.


Blogger raccoonlover1963 said...

Hello Dick. I don't know if you will see this as the post is more than a couple of months old. My name is Lisa and I live in Hartford City, IN. I was a freshman in high school when they held the trial for Roger Drollinger here in our courthouse. I got to go to the trial on the final day when they reached the verdict. The Spencer boys' biological mother was sitting right beside us in the courtroom. She had told my stepmother that she did not believe Roger was guilty. Strangely enough, I posted pictures of the courtroom on my blog last night.
Be well.

9:29 AM  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Visit My Website

Create a Link

Blog Directory

<< Home