Josef Marcher and Paul Schneider

Fiction

In Interrogating Ellie Paul Schneider befriends Ellie and smuggles letters between her and her brother in Jersey, where he is posted on occupation duties. Josef Marcher, a fellow soldier, is less of a friend either to Ellie or to Paul. He dislikes defeatist talk and when he hears some from Paul, there are dire consequences. His relationship to Ellie, let's put it this way, is not that of a 'friend.'

 

Fact

Extract from interrogation file:

"In KAPRUN she lived with a Frau Marcher...and went to work in a small Gasthaus owned by Frau Marcher in the mountains near KAPRUN. It was here that she first met [name removed]...Also at about this time she met an Austrian soldier who was stationed in the Channel Islands, and persuaded him to smuggle letters to her foster parents in St. HELIER to whom she hoped to return."

Ela Hornung* tells the story of lance corporal Anton D who reported Josef N, a fellow soldier for 'subversion of the armed forces.' They were drinking in a café with two young women when Josef N (in Anton D's word) 'told the most revolting and incredible stories [about the war, including the idea that] several thousand German soldiers have already deserted...we can give up any hope of victory; we are losing the war...'

When Ela Hornung interviewed  Anton D 59 years later for her study of denunciation in Nazi Germany, he claimed that he had told the story of this conversation to his platoon leader, who had insisted that he report it. 'I was more or less forced by him,' says Anton D.  Josef N was court martialled and condemned. It is not known what happened to him, but Hornung speculates that it was probably what usually happened in such cases: the sentence would have been suspended until the cessation of hostilities and the man would have been sent to the front 'which was as good as a death sentence.'

*Hornung, E. (2009) Denunciation during World War II in the Military milieu: a biographical case study based on oral and written sources. In Bischof, Gunter., Plasser, Fritz. (eds) New Perspectives on Austrians and World War II. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers. pp. 66-85.

 

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