|The War That Came Early |
POD: July 20, 1936;
Relevant POD: September 29, 1938
|Type of Appearance:||Direct (POV in LO only)|
|Date of Birth:||c. 1917|
|Occupation:||Football player, construction worker, soldier|
|Parents:||Samuel Goldman, Hannah Goldman|
|Relatives:||Sarah Goldman (sister)|
|Military Branch:||Wehrmacht (World War II)|
Civilian life (1938-1939)
Saul lived in Münster along with his father Samuel, mother Hannah and younger sister Sarah at the outbreak of the Second World War in October 1938. Since the Goldmans were assimilated Jews, Saul did not receive a very religious education.
Saul was tall and athletic, with a great talent for playing football. Nazi racial laws, however, forced his exit from the team in which he had been a star, the Foresters, and left him wasting his talent in a teenage Jewish league too far beneath him. This embittered Saul towards the Nazis and their policies. Despite this, when the war broke out, he and his father tried to enlist in the Wehrmacht, but were turned down because of their ethnicity.
After the Royal Air Force bombed Münster in January 1939, Saul volunteered to serve in a gang of workers repairing street damage. The gang's overseer (a small, plump individual that had lost an arm during the previous war) was ruthless and prone to hit the men with a stick without provocation. One day, a sorely provoked Saul hit back without thinking, killing the overseer with a shovel strike to the face just as his mother and sister happened to be watching. Horrified by what he'd done, and knowing the consequences he faced, he fled Münster.
Several days later, the Goldmans received a letter which Saul had sent to their neighbors, who passed it along despite the risk to them. He wrote that he had managed to join the Wehrmacht under a false identity. The Goldmans promptly burned the letter so the Gestapo would not find Saul.
At War (1939-1944)
Posing as "Adalbert Stoss" from Greven, a small town near Münster, Saul passed training as a panzer driver and was assigned to a Panzer II in northern France. He did not see action there, however, since the unit was immediately redeployed to eastern Poland to take part in a German-Polish counterattack against Soviet troops near Wilno.
Saul's first Panzer commander, Heinz Naumann, was an unpleasant individual who teased Saul mercilessly, especially once he discovered that "Stoss" was circumcised. Though there were some non-Jewish circumcised men in Germany, being circumcised was too readily identified with a Jewish heritage. Saul would retort angrily to Naumann's jibes about him being a Jew, and the other crew member, radio operator Theo Hossbach, often feared that the two men would come to blows. Fortunately for Saul and Theo, Naumann was killed in action before Naumann could pose a real threat to Saul.
Their new commander, Hermann Witt, proved to be much easier to get along with, and throughout 1940 Saul participated in the German drive into Byelorussia and toward Smolensk. He and his two crew mates survived having first their Panzer II and later Panzer III destroyed by the Red Army.
Throughout the war in Russia, only Theo Hossbach told Saul outright that he knew that "Stoss" was Jewish, though Hossbach promised never to reveal his secret. Hossbach also hinted that the rest of the crew had deduced Saul's Jewishness as well, yet had kept silent as they were more concerned with their crew mate's demonstrated competence. Saul was pleasantly surprised to learn this, yet continued to make every effort to avoid being discovered. Ironically, the fellowship of soldiers and their loyalty to their comrades in arms - elevated in Nazi ideology to a supreme moral value - in this case worked to the benefit of a Jew hunted by the Nazis.
With the war starting to go badly for Germany, Saul's tank was now involved in withdrawal rather than advance. Abruptly, the unit was pulled altogether out of the eastern front and posted to the environs of Münster, Saul's hometown which had become a focus of unrest and opposition to the Nazi regime. Saul was happy to be near his home again, but disliked the possibility of being sent to suppress the rebellious Münster. Most others of his unit were from the other side of Germany, the environs of Breslau - still, they also were reluctant to attack a German city and kill its inhabitants.
In the uncertain situation, Saul spoke to his crew mates in an openly rebellious way, also for the first time speaking openly about his being a Jew - and he found the others receptive. After the April, 1944 assassination of Adolf Hitler, and the rise of the Committee for the Salvation of the German Nation under General Heinz Guderian, Saul's panzer was among the first to declare for the new regime, as the unit as a whole broke apart with conflicting loyalties.
In the civil war that followed, Saul's Panzer was involved in overcoming the diehard Nazis, holed up in Münster's City Hall. In directing cannon fire at the building and setting it on fire, Saul had a double agenda: the building was the Nazis' headquarters and as such a prime target, but Saul also hoped that records of his killing the overseer in 1939 would be destroyed in the burning building and allow him to later resume life under his real identity.
In the last stages of the fighting, Witt was wounded and Saul to his surprise found himself promoted to command of the Panzer; Hossbach, who was actually senior to Goldman, wasn't interested in the position.
In the meanwhile Saul made contact with his family. They were happy to find him alive and well, and he also was happy to see them, but still his years as a soldier have considerably changed him and effectively made him a different person - though he could now better understand his father's experiences at the front in World War I.
Saul introduced his friend Theo Hossbach to his sister Sarah. Theo was immediately attracted to her; Saul told him that since the anti-Jewish laws had been abolished and German Jews once again given the chance to assimilate, Theo's courting had a chance.
Considering his personal future, Saul found that he had become used to the military life and was rather inclined to continue it. He had never been attracted to his father's academic inclinations, and a career in football could cover only a small part of a man's life. In the post-Nazi, military-ruled Germany there was nothing to stop a Jew from pursuing a military career - especially a Jew who had already rendered useful service both to Germany against outside enemies and to the generals against their internal enemies. Germany had this time ended the war with no limitations on its armaments, and though Guderian and his fellow generals had no immediate plans for a new war, they definitely embarked on building up the armed forces, giving plenty of scope to good young soldiers.
Though he could now resume his real name, Saul found that he often felt more comfortable being "Adi Stoss", particularly when he was with his best friend Theo, who had always known him under that name.