(My grandmother told me many stories about her life in Norway during World War II, when the country was occupied by the Nazis.)
Near the end of the war, when the Third Reich was falling apart, a Nazi submarine surfaced in the river near my grandparent’s house. The young German sailors came on shore and begged for food.
“They were just boys,” my grandmother said. “And they were frightened. They knew that they would probably die when their submarine returned to the sea. ”
She gave them some apples.
“Danke Schoen, Danke Schoen,” they said, as they crawled back into the sub and disappeared into the river.
Not long after, when the Nazis surrendered, an American submarine came up the river.
My grandmother and her three children, thin and weary after five years of Nazi occupation, stood on the shore with their neighbors, cheering and waving Norwegian flags as the Navy men emerged from the boat.
“We were so happy to see them. They gave us flour and coffee,” my grandmother said.
Roger, her youngest child, was six years old, and was born the year before the Nazi invasion.
He was excited to see the Americans and joined the other kids who crowded around the sailors, who were opening boxes and handing each child a chocolate bar.
Roger unwrapped the candy, stared at the hard brown substance and threw it to the ground.
“What is that shit?,” he asked his mother.
His 15-year-old brother and 12-year-old sister laughed and laughed.
Because of the war, little Roger had never tasted chocolate and had no idea it even existed.
As for my grandmother, she thanked the sailors for the coffee and hurried home.
“I drank coffee all day and all night for two days,” she said. “Oh, it was so wonderful to be drinking coffee once again.”