|Home||About the Book||About the Author||To Order||Readers' Comments|
|Excerpt from Chapter 10|
| Soon our car left the tank trail and we threaded the trees to approach closer to our target. I felt my muscles tense as the installation came into sight in the dawn light. It was still about a hundred yards away, but I could see guard towers on the corners of the walls. I looked around and my eye caught a homemade sign nailed to a tree with the ominous message: "Hier wird geschossen!" Underneath the German were two words in Russian: "Zdes' strelyayut!" Both messages, translated into English, meant the same thing: "You will be shot here!"
"Did you see that sign?" I whispered to both the men in the front seat. The major understood Russian and the driver understood German, so I knew they could read the messages if they saw them.
"Yeah, we see those signs all over the country," the major answered as he looked over at the driver. Both were now smiling. The major turned to me in the back seat.
"You have to get used to such attempts to scare us off. Besides, it's meant for Germans who might be strolling through the woods on a Sunday afternoon."
"You don't take the sign seriously then?"
"Yes and no. If we backed off every time we saw a warning sign, we'd never get anything done. Don't worry. We're just going to get close enough to check out the activity inside the installation and see if there's any new equipment there. As soon as we have enough light, we'll take some pictures."
"Fine," I said. "Just checking to see if you had noticed." An incident a little over a week earlier was still fresh in my mind. On 11 August, a Mission tour near Nedlitz stopped on a main road at a railroad crossing because the barrier was down. Several soldiers and an officer ran toward the vehicle in what appeared to be an attempt to detain the team. The USMLM tour quickly turned the car around and sped away from the barrier. As they did, the Soviets shouted and fired two shots at the vehicle. Fortunately, the vehicle was not hit, but I couldn't get the incident out of my mind. That tour had been in an open area and still got fired on. What could WE expect, being this close to a Soviet installation?
I assumed a macho attitude and pretended the major's explanation was sufficient. After all, he was the experienced tour officer and I was along only as a "backseater." Still, the earlier shooting incident kept me on edge.