You Can’t Make It Up – Your Uniforms are Wretched.

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During the German attack on France, the lady of a local châteaux was accidently wounded by German fire. The two officers on the scene were Count Heinrich Yorck von Wartenburg and Alexander Stahlberg, both opposed to the Nazis and both of distinguished aristocratic lineage. As Stahlberg recounts in his fascinating memoir, Bounden Duty: Memoirs of a German Officer 1932-45, both he and Yorck immediately went to the châteaux, fortunately to discover the lady’s wounds were not life threatening and she had been treated by their regimental surgeon.

However, the chatelaine wished to see a German officer. Both Yorck and Stahlberg went to the landing and were escorted to the lady’s bedroom by a maid. Both young men stood in the doorway, apologizing profusely for the incident in perfect French. She motioned them closer to her bed so she could see them clearly. Writes Stahlberg,

“She inspected us from head to foot, dismissing us with a comment which I found so unforgettable that I can quote it now: ‘Gentlemen, in my country they say that the cloth from which German officers’ uniforms are made is of wretched quality. I see that they are right. Gentlemen, I thank you for your visit.”

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/

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