Xianniang: "maybe this is for the best. Still I can't help but feel like I should have joined the resistance in China."
Li: "our father's orders were crystal clear. You are to live here in Hamburg Germany with me until the war between China and Japan is over. When the war is over you will return to China. When you return to China father will have arranged a marriage for you."
Xianniang: "I know, but I still want to strike back at the Japanese after the things I saw in Shanghai."
Li: "that is only natural my sister. I'm so glad you made it to Canton and got on a ship to Germany."
Xianniang: "brother, I'm exhausted from my long journey. Can we finish this talk in the morning?"
Li: "OK. I set up a spare room for you to live in while you are here. Get plenty of sleep. Tomorrow you will start working in my Chinese restaurant."
Xianniang went into her room and went to sleep.
The next day Xianniang took a minute to look around her new home. There were three small rooms over top of a small Chinese restaurant. Li and Xianniang lived in two of the rooms and Li used the third room to store supplies for his restaurant. A portrait of Chiang Kai shek was hanging on the wall of Xianniang's room.
Downstairs there was a small dining room big enough for twenty people. The room was decorated with Mandarin characters, a Nazi flag, and a portrait of Adolf Hitler. Over the front door there was a sign that said "Communists will not be served" in both Mandarin and German. On the front door of the restaurant there was a Communist hammer and sickle simbol with large a black X painted over it.
Xianniang had to stop looking around the restaurant when Li interrupted her.
Li: "I'm opening in five minutes. Go into the kitchen and start making tea. I sell a lot of tea in the morning. Sometimes it's the only thing that keeps me in business."
Xianniang went into the kitchen and started making tea.
Over the next several months business at Li's Chinese restaurant was good. Xianniang's tea was extremely popular with the local Chinese community in Hamburg. Some Germans even tried Xianniang's tea as well.
Everything appeared to be going well for Xianniang until one day the news broke that Hitler was going to visit Hamburg to oversee the launch of his new battleship; the Bismarck.
Xianniang wanted to go to the Nazi rally.
Xianniang asked her brother if she could go to the Bismarck launching ceremony.
Xianniang: "if I'm going to live in Hitler's country I want to see what type of man he is."
Li: "I don't know if the Schutzstaffel or SS will let us go to the rally."
Xianniang: "why wouldn't they?"
Li: "look out the window."
Xianniang looked out the window. Xianniang saw two Nazi intelligence officers of the Gestapo who were carrying out surveillance on Li's restaurant.
Xianniang: "who are those two men and why are they staring at your restaurant?"
Li: "they are Nazi secret police and they are hunting Communists."
Xianniang: "what makes them think that there are Communists here? The sign on the door says Communists will not be served."
Li: "in the past some Chinese students who came here were members of the Chinese Communist Party. All that changed when Adolf Hitler came to power."
There was a brief pause.
Li: "I know how much you love your red Cheongsam but it could be misinterpreted as a Communist symbol by the secret police. I've seen many people who were accused of being Communists get taken away. I have yet to see one come back."
Xianniang: "Li you are starting to scare me."
Li: "that's not even the worst of it. When Hitler first came to power in 1933 Nazi thugs broke in and ransacked my restaurant. The Nazis broke every plate I had. I still don't know why they did it."
Xianniang: "father never told me about that."
Li: "don't worry my sister. As long as we keep the Communists out of here there will be no more trouble. But just to be on the safe side I always have radio Berlin playing in the restaurant."
Xianniang: "I'm going to go back upstairs and put my white Cheongsam on now."
Li: "good idea."
The next day Li came back from the market.
Li: "you won't believe what I got today."
Li put his supplies down and held up two tickets to the Bismarck launching ceremony.
Xianniang: "thank you so much! You're the best brother ever!"
Li: "I better teach you how to do a proper Nazi salute. If you mess this up Nazi thugs will knock your block off."
Li demonstrated the Nazi salute.
Li: "on the command "sieg hail" you try it. Sieg heil!"
Xianniang did the Nazi salute.
Li: "you're ready now."
A month later Li and Xianniang went to the rally.
Thousands of Germans crowded the waterfront to see Hitler and his new battleship.
The Bismarck towered over the fleet U-boats in the harbor. At the time Hitler was scheduled to arrive there was no sign of the Nazi dictator. The tension rapidly built.
Hitler was seven minutes late for the rally. When Hitler's Mercedes Benz W31 car finally arrived the command heil Hitler was given.
Li and Xianniang were right next to the fence when Hitler's car drove by. Although both Li and Xianniang understood German Hitler read his speech so fast that neither Xianniang or Li could understand anything that Hitler said.
After Hitler's speech the command heil Hitler was given and everyone gave a Nazi salute. Hitler gave the order to launch the Bismarck. The battleship slid out of it's dry-dock and into the harbor. A massive formation of Bf-109 fighter planes flew over the city. The cheers of thousands of Germans filled the air.
Xianniang turned back to Li.
Xianniang: "it's bigger than the ones the Japanese used in Shanghai but I've seen bigger battleships in Hong Kong."
Li: "shut up before the Gestapo hears you."
After exactly two minutes of cheering Hitler ordered everyone to be silent. Instantly all of Hamburg was silent as a tomb. Hitler gave a short closing statement and the order heil Hitler was given.
After Hitler's closing statement Hitler started walking down the fence shaking hands with his supporters.
When Hitler reached Xianniang she dropped her Nazi salute and accepted Hitler's handshake. Xianniang looked Adolf Hitler in the eyes.
Hitler jerked his hand away from Xianniang when he saw that Xianniang was Chinese. Hitler wiped his hand on his coat as if he had put it in something gross and gave Xianniang a very evil look. Xianniang was terrified. Hitler stepped away and passed Li without giving him a handshake.
When Xianniang and Li got back to the restaurant Xianniang went directly upstairs and began packing her bags.
Li came into Xianniang's room.
Li: "what are you doing?"
Xianniang: "I'm going back to China."
Li: "even if you had the money for passage how do you plan to get past the Japanese blockade of our coast?"
Xianniang: "I'll get on the next ship to Rangoon and follow the Burma road to Chongqing."
Li: "why are you in such a hurry to leave?"
Xianniang: "I looked into Hitler's eyes. I've never seen such an evil look in all my life!"
Li: "it is true that Hitler is a dictator and a madman. But that's no reason to break your promise to our father. For once in your life think about think about the family honor."
Xianniang: "even if this country was run by the nicest man in the world how can we just stay here and make tea and stir fries while China bleeds from 10,000 wounds? Are we just going to watch her die?"
Li: "we're not soldiers. Besides I've put everything I ever had into this business. I'm not going to let some madman in either Berlin or Tokyo destroy it."
Xianniang: "the Gestapo already rounded up the Communists and last year they started rounding up the Jews. Recently the Nazis started taking away Gypsies as well. How do you know the Chinese will not be next?"
Li: "because Hitler is giving weapons to Chiang Kai shek."
Xianniang: "that is true for now but for how long? Hitler is also friends with Mussolini the dictator of Italy. And Mussolini is friends with the Japanese."
Several months later Hitler declared war on Poland and plunged Europe into war. Britain and France declared war on Germany in response to the Nazi invasion of Poland. Li and Xianniang shut the restaurant down early and cleared all of the junk out of the basement to make room for an air raid shelter. Xianniang also put heavy blankets over the windows to prevent Allied bombers from targeting the light from inside the restaurant.
Air raid drills became a daily occurrence and were a significant drain on Li's business. Li was often ordered by the Gestapo to close the restaurant at busy times so air raid drills could be carried out.
The restaurant also lost a significant amount of business after several regular customers were accused of being Communists and taken away.
One spring day Xianniang was in the kitchen making tea and listening to radio Berlin when very unexpectedly the voice of Hitler came on the radio.
Hitler: "the shame of 1918 has been avenged! Today we rule France! Tomorrow we rule the world!"
Xianniang was so shocked by the news that she dropped the teapot. Li heard the teapot break while he was cleaning tables in the dining room and ran back into the kitchen.
Li: "what happened?"
Xianniang: "we need to be ready for trouble. France has fallen. Nazi thugs will go berserk all over Germany."
The sounds of Germans outside having spontaneous celebrations and shouting "heil Hitler" began to fill the city.
Li: "now the British will have only one way to strike back. We're moving our rooms into the basement now."
Xianniang: "I don't understand."
Li: "there could be a massive air raid at any moment."
Over the next several months Hitler's legions seemed unstable. The smaller countries of Europe fell one after another until only England and the Soviet Union were beyond Hitler's control. Nazi bombers were systematically destroying British cities and Hitler's U-boats were sinking Allied ships as far away as the coast of Canada.
The Nazi Navy known as the kriegsmarine hung pictures of sinking Allied ships all over Hamburg.
To try to convince the Nazis that he was not a Communist Li hung a large picture of a Canadian cargo ship sinking within sight of the rocky coast of Nova Scotia in the dining room of his restaurant. The ship had been torpedoed by a Nazi U-boat operating off the coast of Canada a few months earlier.
Li and Xianniang were forced to live permanently in the basement of their Chinese restaurant because of British air raids. However the British air raids were small and ineffective.
Hitler was also waging a secret war all over occupied Europe against the Communist party. Anyone accused of being a Communist could be taken away by the Gestapo or SS at any moment. Hitler also created a racial caste system with Germans on top and Jewish people on the bottom. At first exactly where the Chinese fit into this system was unclear. The main Nazi change against the Chinese remained that they were all Communists.
One morning Xianniang picked up a copy of the Nazi controlled Hamburg newspaper.
Headline: "imperial Japan joins the Axis."
Article: "Japanese soldiers take control of Hanoi in French Indochina and cut off the main supply lines for Communist Allied China."
Xianniang was devastated.
That night two Japanese teenage boys came into the restaurant stinking of sake and looking for trouble. Li tried to talk sense into the troublemakers.
Li: "you kids have had way too much to drink tonight. Just go home and sleep it off. Don't do something that you will regret in the morning."
The Japanese teenagers did not listen to Li and tried to celebrate the Japanese victory in Hanoi by ransacking Li's Chinese restaurant.
One of the Japanese boys shouted "banzai", grabbed a plate off a table, and threw it at Li. The other troublemaker ripped down the blanket over the window that the city's blackout ordinance called for.
Li dodged the plate and karate chopped the boy who threw it in the head. Li grabbed the the troublemaker and threw him out the door. Xianniang picked up a chair and threw a it at the other troublemaker. Xianniang hit the troublemaker with the chair and knocked him to the guard. The troublemaker got back up, ran outside, and joined his friend. Both of the Japanese boys ran away when Xianniang grabbed a steak knife off a table and charged them.
Li shouted for Xianniang to come back.
Li: "Xianniang give me the knife and call the police!"
Xianniang called the Hamburg city police and a few minutes later two officers arrived.
What Li failed to take into account was that only the most fanatical Nazis were allowed to be on the police force.
When the police arrived Li told the officers what happened.
The two officers looked at the damage for a second.
Officer one: "we don't help communists."
Officer two: "you reds are in violation of the city's blackout ordinance."
The officer pulled out his clipboard, wrote a ticket, and handed it to Li.
Officer one: "if there is an air raid tonight you're both going to jail."
Officer two: "which is exactly where you Communists belong."
Officer one: "we need a new chair at the station. So I'm confiscating this one."
The officers picked up a chair from the dining room and went back to the police station.
Li had to sell two tables and four chairs to pay the ticket.
The loss of the tables and chairs had little effect on Li's business because business was already down considerably. Even still Li did have a few good nights.
Two weeks after the Japanese troublemakers attacked the restaurant Li was having his first busy night in a month. All of the tables in the dining room were full. There were two young Chinese men who appeared to be students having tea in the corner.
Suddenly five heavily armed Gestapo agents came charging into the restaurant.
Gestapo leader: "everyone put your hands up! If you don't comply you will be shot!"
Two of the Gestapo agents pulled the students out of the corner and put them on the floor. The Gestapo agents severely beat the students with the stocks of there K-98 rifles.
Gestapo leader: "you two take these little Communist pigs away. The rest of you tear this place apart! If you find so much as one Communist symbol or piece of propaganda everyone here is going to jail. If anyone tries to stop you shoot them."
When the two students were knocked unconscious they were dragged away.
Meanwhile two Gestapo agents stormed into the kitchen. One of the Gestapo agents put a S84/98 III bayonet to Xianniang's neck while the other Gestapo agent ransacked the kitchen.
Gestapo agent: "who else have you been working with? Answer me or I'll shoot you!"
Xianniang: "no one else works here except me and my brother."
The Gestapo agent pressed his bayonet closer to Xianniang's neck.
Gestapo agent: "who is the leader of your Communist cell? If you don't tell me I will shoot you!"
Xianniang: "I'm not a Communist and I'm not going to tell you anything! So just go ahead and shoot me!"
The sounds of the other Gestapo agents beating up Li and ransacking the restaurant could be heard coming from the dining room.
The leader of the Gestapo agents came changing into the kitchen.
Gestapo leader: "we've got the Communists we were after. We're out of here."
Gestapo agent: "what should I do with this little Communist sir?"
Gestapo leader: "teach her a quick lesson and let's get moving. We've got a lot more Communists to catch tonight."
The Gestapo agent pointed his rifle at a traditional Chinese teapot on the stove and fired. The teapot shattered and splashed boiling water onto Xianniang. After shooting the teapot the Gestapo agent clubbed Xianniang in the side of her head with the stock of his rifle. Xianniang fell to the floor and started bleeding from the side of her head.
The Gestapo agent pointed to the shattered teapot.
Gestapo agent: "next time I come here I will make your head look like that!"
Just as quickly as they had come the Gestapo agents were gone.
Despite having been severely beaten Li made his way back to the kitchen to check on Xianniang.
Li found his sister on the floor bleeding from the side of her head and crying hysterically. Li embraced his sister.
The next morning Li began to clean up the mess left behind by the Gestapo. Over three quarters of Li's plates, bowls, and tea cups had been broken. The tables and chairs had been overturned. Food, broken dishes, napkins, chopsticks, and tea were all over the floor. The Gestapo agents had even ripped up some of the floorboards.
Xianniang looked at the mess for a minute.
Xianniang: "aiya! What a mess."
Li: "I'm going to go buy some more plates. You start cleaning this place up while I'm gone."
Li went to a small shop that he had been buying plates from for many years.
There was a sign over the door that said "no Communists allowed."
The owner confronted Li as soon as he came inside the store.
Owner: "can't you read? No Communists allowed! Get lost before I call the Gestapo!"
Li: "Joseph I've been buying plates from you since 1918. You know I'm not a Communist."
Joseph: "you're a dirty Chinese. All Chinese are Communists! You can either go home or go wherever the Gestapo sends Communists."
Li: "OK I'm going home."
Li left the store.
Li went to four other stores but none of the shopkeepers would do business with him. Li went back to the restaurant empty handed.
On his way back to the restaurant two Gestapo agents began following Li. The Gestapo agents followed Li all the way to his restaurant and confronted him in the dining room.
Gestapo agent: "we got a report that a Communist agent matching your description was harassing local shopkeepers."
Li: "I'm not a Communist and all I wanted to do was buy some plates to replace the ones your friends broke last night."
Gestapo agent: "listen to me you miserable slant eyed pig! One more incident like this and we will take both you and your disgusting sister away! Know this, we are going to watch you every second of every day. One more slip up and you're coming with us!"
The two Gestapo agents stormed out of the restaurant and slammed the door behind them.
Xianniang was standing in the corner fighting back tears.
Xianniang: "can we please just leave this terrible place?"
Li: "I promised father that I would keep you safe. It's now clear to me that this is impossible to do here. I have failed both you and our father. I have brought dishonor to the family. Tomorrow we will go to the courthouse and apply for exit visas."
Xianniang: "so we're going home?"
Li: "if all goes well we should be in Chongqing by the end of the month.
Xianniang embraced her brother.
Xianniang: "thank you so much! You're the best brother ever!"
The next day Xianniang and Li went to the courthouse.
Xianniang and Li were stopped by the security guards at the door.
Security guard: "no non Aryans are allowed to pollute the courthouse you slant eyed Communists!"
Li: "Sir we just want to apply for exit visas. It's clear that you don't want us here and we don't want to be here anymore either. So please just let us go home."
Security guard: "and reinforce the Communist army that will stop at nothing to wipe out the Aryans? Out of the question! But while you're here I do have something to give you."
The security guard called for an SS officer to come outside. A minute later an SS officer came out of the courthouse.
SS officer: "put these on now or you're going to jail."
The SS officer handed Xianniang and Li two inverted red triangles made out of cloth and marked with a large black letter C.
Xianniang: "I don't understand sir."
SS officer: "these are badges that all Communists must wear at all times. The C is for Chinese."
Xianniang and Li pinned the badges to their clothes and left.
Li was able to stay in business even though most of the other Chinese restaurants in Hamburg went bankrupt because he owned his shop outright. Most of the other Chinese restaurant owners had to pay rent or mortgages. With most of the competing Chinese restaurants out of business the members of the Chinese community who had not been taken away by the Gestapo began to turn out at Li's restaurant in large numbers every night that there was no air raid. Nearly all of the customers had been ordered by the Gestapo or the SS to wear the Communist identification badge.
One morning Xianniang was listening to the radio when the voice of Joseph Goebbels came on radio Berlin.
Goebbels: "the final campaign to rid the world of Communists and Jews has begun! Our brave Aryan soldiers are driving deep into the Soviet Union! they are leaving no survivors in their wake!"
Xianniang: "Li did you hear that? Hitler is attacking the Soviet Union!"
Li: "now it is only a matter of time before the Gestapo comes for us."
Li was right. Over the next six months many Chinese people were taken away by the Gestapo. Some members of the Chinese community were dragged out of Li's restaurant.
Surprisingly another six months went by without Li or Xianniang being taken away. Long enough for more shocking news to come in. On a cold winter day Xianniang was listening to radio Berlin.
Radio: "the empire of Japan has declared war on the United States and launched an air raid on the US Pacific fleet anchorage at Pearl Harbor."
At first Xianniang was not terribly worried but four days later Hitler declared war on the United States. Chiang Kai shek also declared war on Japan, Italy, and Germany.
Xianniang rushed out of the kitchen to tell Li that China had declared war on the Third Reich.
Li took a deep breath.
Li: "now we are truly behind enemy lines."
Two months later the Gestapo overran Chinatown and rounded up all of the Chinese citizens. While the Gestapo rounded up the Chinese civilians German Wehrmacht soldiers set up barbed wire and heavily armed checkpoints around the Chinese district.
The Gestapo dragged Xianniang out of her room by her hair and took her to a large intersection where the Gestapo was gathering the Chinese civilians.
Gestapo agent: "by order of Gestapo leader Rinehart Heydrich all slant eyes must stay within this district at all times. Over the coming weeks you will be put on work details. If you work hard you will eat. If you do not work hard you will starve. All business enterprises apart from official work details are to be shut down permanently. Anyone who attempts to escape will be shot! Go back to your disgusting Communist homes and tell anyone who managed to hide from me what I have told you."
Xianniang went back to her room and started crying.
One week later Xianniang was put on a work detail making rations for the German army. Xianniang was put on a blitz 3.6 truck every morning and chained to the side of the truck for the short ride to the factory. All of the prisoners on Xianniang's work detail were accused of being Communists however the prisoners came from all over Nazi occupied Europe.
Xianniang had to work at least fourteen hours a day just to receive one day's rations. If she made a mistake Xianniang was beaten by the SS soldiers who oversaw the factory's forced labor details. Despite the beatings Xianniang was luckier than some other prisoners.
One day Xianniang was working with a French prisoner. Xianniang did not know his name because prisoners were forbidden to speak to each other.
During a short rest break the French prisoner tried to open a window to let some cool air into the extremely hot factory. Suddenly an SS soldier grabbed the French prisoner from behind and began beating him very badly with the stock of a K-98 rifle. The prisoner fell on the floor after being hit the first time. After several minutes the SS soldier grabbed the French prisoner by the collar of his prison uniform and put him on his knees.
SS soldier: "this is what happens when you try to escape!"
The SS soldier pressed the barrel of his K-98 rifle to the back of the prisoner's head and fired. The Frenchman fell dead.
SS soldier: "the Chinese Communists will clean up this mess. The rest of you get back to work now!"
Xianniang and Li had to carry the body outside and pour gasoline over it. An SS soldier struck a match to the gas and then put a Luger 08 to Xianniang's head.
SS soldier: "if either of you tell anyone what happened today I'll shoot you and make your brother clean up the mess. Both of you get back to work now!"
Over the next several months Xianniang and Li's work details were interrupted by air raids more frequently. The United States Army Air Force attacked Hamburg's industrial areas by day. The British Royal Air Force attacked the city by night. At first these attacks were uncoordinated. But as the months went by the United States and British air forces began to carry out round the clock bombing of German cities.
According to the allied air force's strategy the United States bombed a German city by day and the British bombed the same German city by night. As 1943 began Li and Xianniang were put on work details cleaning up rubble from air raids more often. But one week in the summer of 1943 Hamburg saw a series of air raids like no other.
The attack began on the night of July 24 when hundreds of British Lancaster bombers passed over Hamburg. Li and Xianniang were forced to hide in the basement of their Chinese restaurant all night as the British bombed the city. The next morning the SS came and got Xianniang and Li for their work details. Li was sent to clear rubble from the city's roads. Xianniang was sent to a factory that made ammunition for K-98 rifles.
Just as Xianniang started working an air raid siren went off. Xianniang and all of the other workers went down to their air raid shelter. The prisoners were put in a side room and ordered to fix up damaged SS uniforms while the air raid was going on.
The sound of 800 American B-17 bombers filled the air. The sounds of thousands of German Bf-109's could also be heard overhead. The battle raged for hours in the skies over Hamburg. As the B-17's got closer to the industrial areas German 88MM flak guns opened fire. German warships in the harbor also returned fire on the B-17's as well.
The Nazis shot down many B-17's but the Americans pressed the attack.
At the height of the American air raid a bomb hit the factory that Xianniang was imprisoned in. The prisoners were ordered to leave the air raid shelter and help with damage control.
The flames spread across the factory floor much faster than the damage control teams could put them out. Two more American bombs fell on the factory and set a tank full of motor oil on fire.
Xianniang had to run for her life as rivers of burning oil spread out across the factory floor. Xianniang found a small hole in the outer wall caused by a near miss. Xianniang was just barely able to squeeze through the gap and ran for her life.
Meanwhile the flames reached the room where smokeless gunpowder was stored. There was a massive explosion an the factory's roof to collapsed. Hundreds of workers and prisoners were killed.
Xianniang turned herself in to the first SS soldier she saw outside. There were over a thousand of Nazis around the wrecked factory therefore escape was impossible.
Xianniang spent the rest of the day cleaning up rubble from the American air raid.
When the SS finally took Xianniang home there was no sign of Li.
Xianniang was terrified that Li had been killed in the air raid or executed by the Nazis. Xianniang went down to her room and started crying.
An hour later a German army truck stopped at the corner where prisoners were picked up for work details. Xianniang ran out of her room and began looking for her brother. At first Xianniang did not see her brother.
Finally the small crowd around the truck began to disperse and Xianniang saw Li get thrown off the back of the truck by an SS soldier.
Li got up and began to dust himself off. Xianniang ran into the crowd and embraced her brother.
Xianniang: "I was convinced that you had been killed!"
Li: "I was worried to death about you. I heard that the Americans bombed the factory that the Nazis sent you to!"
An SS soldier grabbed Xianniang by her hair and pulled her away from her brother.
SS soldier: "you two Communists are violating curfew! Get back to your quarters now or you're coming with me."
Li and Xianniang went back inside their air raid shelter and went to sleep.
As Xianniang and Li slept they had no idea what was coming there way.
The night was stiflingly hot, dry, and windy. Li left the air raid shelter door open to let a little bit of cool air into his room. About two hours after Li and Xianniang went to sleep the sounds of air raid sirens and flak guns being fired awoke the two siblings. Xianniang went upstairs, stepped outside, and looked up. Xianniang saw a British Lancaster bomber illuminated by a German searchlight. Blasts from a dozen Nazi flak guns quickly shot the bomber down. However Xianniang could hear the engines of many more Lancaster over head. Soon bombs rained down all over the city. The British bombs caused many small explosions instead of the massive blasts that the American bombs had produced in the daylight raid. At first Xianniang was confused. Xianniang watched the British bombs explode all over the city and start small fires.
The fires didn't stay small for long. As the raid continued the many small fires merged into a massive firestorm. Water was already in short supply because of the American air raid that morning. Hot, dry winds spread the flames much faster than the Hamburg fire department could put them out.
The SS began collecting prisoners from all over the city and forcing them to help with damage control. Xianniang and Li were picked up five minutes into the raid.
Xianniang was sent to Hamburg's old town to help collect flammable materials and dump them in the harbor.
As Xianniang dropped a load of wood in the harbor a dozen Lancaster bombers flew over her and dropped incendiary bombs. Although two of the Lancaster bombers were shot down by Luftwaffe night fighters the neighborhood Xianniang was in exploded into flames.
Xianniang found herself surrounded by flames. The two Nazis who were watching Xianniang fled into the darkness and abandoned Xianniang to her fate. Boxes of shells for U-boat deck guns began to explode along the docks.
When the Nazis were gone Xianniang called out to her ancestors for help.
Xianniang: "ancestors please just give me a fighting chance to save myself!"
Xianniang hit the ground as another box of deck gun shells exploded dangerously close to her. A few seconds later the firestorm spread to an ammunition dump for an 88MM flak gun battery and caused a massive explosion. The explosion put out some of the flames and opened a temporary escape route.
Xianniang saw her chance to escape and ran along the edge of the blast area and down a small dock. The flames were so close behind Xianniang that they set Xianniang's hair on fire.
Xianniang jumped off the end of the dock just in time to avoid being consumed in flames.
Xianniang took shelter under the dock and waited for the firestorm to burn itself out.
The fire that consumed Hamburg was so large that it created hurricane force winds.
From her shelter under the dock Xianniang could hear people screaming, buildings collapsing, and boxes of ammunition exploding.
Finally the fire evaporated so much water from the harbor that it started a thunderstorm over the city. The thunderstorm combined with the thousands of German soldiers who were brought in to fight the fire finally put the firestorm out. When the fire went out Xianniang climbed back on top of the dock. Xianniang was too exhausted to even think about trying to escape.
Two U-boat crewmen saw Xianniang at the end of the dock and rushed over to her Lugers in hand.
U-boat sailor one: "halt! You are trespassing on a facility belonging to the Kriegsmarine! Identity yourself!"
Xianniang: "my name is Xianniang. I surrender."
The Nazi sailors saw that Xianniang was wearing a Communist identification badge.
U-boat sailor two: "I'll go get the Gestapo."
A few minutes later the Gestapo arrived and took Xianniang back to Chinatown. When Xianniang got home she saw that Chinatown had been almost completely destroyed by the British bombs and there was no sign of Li. Amazingly Xianniang and Li's air raid shelter had survived. The restaurant was badly damaged but still standing. Xianniang went into her room and made a bowl of rice from her secret stash and waited for Li to return.
Four hours later an SS truck stopped at the corner and a dozen prisoners got off. Xianniang ran outside to see if Li was among them. Xianniang met Li just outside the door of the restaurant.
Li: "I thought that I would never see you again!"
Xianniang: "I thought that I was done for when my hair started to burn. Come on inside. I made you some rice."
Xianniang and Li went upstairs and looked out the window.
The entire city lay in ruins as far as the eye could see. The air was thick with foul smelling smoke. Xianniang and Li surveyed the devastation in stunned silence for several minutes. Finally Li broke the silence.
Li: "we should get back in the basement before the Americans stage a daylight raid."
Xianniang: "your right brother."
Over the next several months Xianniang and Li spent most of their time on work details cleaning up rubble all over Hamburg. Sometimes Xianniang and Li found bodies under destroyed buildings. Almost 43,000 Germans had been killed in the July 27 firebombing of Hamburg.
Within two months of the July 27th bombing most of the damaged factories in Hamburg were repaired and running at full capacity. The American B-17's returned several more times but the raids had little effect on German war production. The city on the other hand was wrecked.
With roads blocked by rubble and bomb craters it was taking much longer for prisoners to reach there work details. Li and Xianniang often had to spend all night at the locations they were assigned to work. To make matters worse as the battles in the Soviet Union and Italy began to turn against Hitler the Nazis began cutting the rations for their prisoners. With manpower consumed at the front and much of Germany's transportation infrastructure wrecked by air raids German war production began to drop. One year after the Hamburg fire raid the Gestapo decided to consolidate the Chinese prisoners.
In the afternoon Xianniang and Li were released from their work details and sent home. It was the first time either of the siblings had been sent home before dark in over a year.
Xianniang: "why did they let us go so early?"
Li: "I don't know but I'm going to take advantage of it. I'm going to sleep."
Xianniang: "I've got a feeling that something terrible is about to happen."
Xianniang was right.
In the middle of the night five Gestapo agents broke down the door of Li's restaurant.
Two of the Gestapo agents grabbed Xianniang by her hair and started dragging her upstairs. Li tried to get to his sister but was hit with the stock of a K-98 rifle in his forehead. Xianniang saw Li get hit and tried to go help him but she to was struck in the head with a K-98 by another Nazi. Xianniang was then dragged outside by her hair and slammed down on to the ground.
Suddenly a gunshot came from inside the restaurant.
Xianniang: "did you Nazi pigs just shoot my brother? If so then..."
Gestapo agent: "shut up Communist."
Xianniang tried to get back up and get to her brother.
A Gestapo agent struck Xianniang in the forehead with the stock of his K-98. Three more Gestapo agents ran over to Xianniang and began beating her with their K-98's as well.
A Gestapo agent dragged Li outside the restaurant and dumped him on the ground next to Xianniang. Xianniang looked to see if her brother was still alive. Li had been badly beaten but was still alive. Li placed his hand on Xianniang's shoulder.
Li: "don't worry about me. You must find the strength to survive this war. You will see China again."
The Gestapo agents picked Li up and threw him on the back of a truck. Xianniang never saw her brother again.
Across the street two Gestapo agents dragged an old lady out of a nearby air raid shelter.
The old woman was bleeding from her nose and very angry.
Old woman: "you Nazi dogs think your so though beating up an old lady! If you were a real man you would be in Italy or Russia fighting the Allies not here in Hamburg terrorizing little old ladies!"
Gestapo agent: "will you come work for us or not?"
Old lady: "if you are so superior to everyone else then why can't you do your own work?"
The Gestapo agent tried to press his bayonet to the old lady's neck but she blocked the bayonet with her fan.
The Gestapo agent struck the old lady with the back of his K-98 in the back of her knee and knocked the old lady to her knees. The Gestapo agent worked the bolt on his K-98 and put the barrel of the rifle to the back of her head.
Gestapo agent: "if you do not work, you will die."
Old woman: "I'm seventy-seven years old. Do you think that I'm scared of death? If you shoot me I'll die with a smile on my face knowing that I have already lived much longer than you or your Führer can ever hope to. The Russians, Americans, and British are coming. When they get here they will kill every stinking Nazi in Germany. Still want to waste a bullet on me?"
Gestapo agent: "if you do not work you will die. Will you work for us?"
Old lady: "I'm done working for two bit Nazis!"
Gestapo agent: "let this be a lesson to everyone!"
The Gestapo agent fired his rifle and the old lady fell dead.
Xianniang began crying hysterically.
The Gestapo leader made an announcement to his men.
Gestapo leader: "good work cleaning up all these Communists. Now load them up and get all of the prisoners to jail before dawn."
Xianniang was thrown into the back of a truck and driven to the Hamburg city jail.
A month later Xianniang was moved to a new prison camp called Langer Morgen forced labor camp.
At the camp Xianniang was thrown out of a truck on to the ground. An SS soldier dragged Xianniang away from the truck by her hair. The SS soldier took Xianniang to a small barracks and slammed her down on the floor.
SS soldier: "this is your bunk. Tomorrow you will start working for us."
Xianniang stood up and looked at her bunk.
Xianniang: "there are no sheets, blankets, or a pillow. There is just bare wood."
SS soldier: "if you are a good worker you will earn them. By the way the same goes for your rations. Also remember that if anyone in this barracks tries to escape all of you will be shot."
Xianniang climbed into her bunk after the SS soldier left. Xianniang started crying again.
A young Chinese women placed her hand on Xianniang's shoulder.
Fellow prisoner: "if the guards see you crying they will beat you to a pulp. They might even shoot you."
Xianniang stopped crying.
Xianniang: "thanks for warning me about that. Do you have any idea where the Nazis sent my brother?"
Fellow prisoner: "he's probably in one of the men's barracks somewhere in this camp. You might see him on a work detail."
Xianniang: "I'm Xianniang. What is your name?"
Fellow prisoner: "I'm Lien. I've been a prisoner of the Nazis since 1942. I was arrested by the Gestapo in Berlin that year."
Xianniang: "what will they do next?"
Lien: "you will be assigned an identification number and put to work."
Xianniang: "I'm still worried that I'll be put to death, like the old lady back in Chinatown was."
Lien: "you're young and still able to work. If the Nazis were going to shoot you they would have already done it."
An SS soldier came into the barracks.
SS soldier: "prisoner number C319 come with me to help fix up damaged SS uniforms. Xianniang from now on you will be known as prisoner number C712. After you get cleaned up a little bit you will help unload trucks of antiaircraft gun shells for an SS flak gun company. Do your job well and you will earn a day's rations."
Xianniang was taken away by two Nazis and severely beaten. The Nazis next dragged Xianniang into another building and tied her to a chair. A third Nazi came into the building and shaved off all of Xianniang's hair. The Nazis went outside and left Xianniang tied to the chair. One of the Nazis turned around, opened the door, and threw a grenade into the building. Xianniang screamed and prepared to die. The grenade made a small bang similar to a small pistol being fired and released a cloud of smoke. The grenade was a training grenade. The thee Nazis outside the door started laughing histarrically. When the Nazis finally stopped laughing they united Xianniang and took her to her work detail.
Xianniang had always loved her long hair. At first Xianniang missed her hair a lot but after several days it became clear to her that not having her hair was a good thing because the Nazis could not drag her around by her hair.
Over the next several weeks Xianniang and Lien became friends. A few times Xianniang and Lien were even put on the same work details. As always prisoners were forbidden to speak to each other during work details.
As the months went by the SS began cutting back the rations for the prisoners. Xianniang did not know that the Americans, Canadians, and British had landed in Normandy and were driving towards Germany. The Soviet Union had also decisively defeated the Nazis at Stalingrad and Kursk. But what Xianniang was able to figure out was that the Americans and British had increased strategic bombing of German cities. Xianniang knew the allied forces were bombing Germany more heavily because she was put on many work details cleaning up rubble and repairing damaged factories.
American air raids on Romanian oil fields and the increasingly desperate battle to stop the relentless westward drive of the Soviet Red army severely depleted the fuel supply in Germany. Nazi troops were also forced to give up Rome and Paris to the western Allies as well. The shortage of fuel meant that prisoners often had to walk to their work details.
Life in the camp was extremely difficult. The SS often denied prisoners rations and beatings were common.
One freezing cold winter day Xianniang overheard a guard say that the SS had broken the American lines in Belgium in the battle of the bulge. Xianniang rushed to tell Lien.
Xianniang: "the Americans have made it to Belgium. I just heard a guard tell another guard that the SS is counterattacking there.
Suddenly a guard grabbed Xianniang by the collar of her coat and dragged her away.
Guard: "prisoner number C712 you have left your work detail without authorization!"
The Guard struck Xianniang in the forehead with the stock of his K-98. Xianniang fell to the ground. The Nazi grabbed Xianniang by the collar of her coat, pulled her up onto her knees and put a Luger 08 to Xianniang's head.
Guard: "the penalty for deserting your work detail is death!"
Before the Nazi fired his luger Lien ran up to the SS soldier.
Lien: "sir I asked her to come over to help me. This is all my fault! Shoot me instead!"
Guard: "prisoner C712 is this true?"
Xianniang did not know what to say because Lien had lied. Xianniang decided to play along.
Xianniang: "yes sir prisoner C319 did ask for my help."
The SS soldier put his Luger away.
Guard: "I'm not going to shoot anyone this time but I am going to teach both of you a lesson you will never forget!"
The guard called for two more SS men to come over to him.
The three Nazis beat Lien and Xianniang very severely. When the beating ended one of the Nazis shouted "no rations for either of you Communists tonight!"
When the Nazis left Xianniang and Lien picked themselves off the ground and embraced each other.
Xianniang: "I can't believe you did that for me."
Lien was shaking badly.
Lien: "I can't believe they didn't shoot me. I'm not going to last much longer. But I can tell you have the strength to survive this war. Someone needs to live to tell the world what the Nazis did to our people. That someone is you."
Xianniang: "we'll both tell the Allies when they get here. Remember the Americans have already made it to Belgium. That's only a few days drive from here."
Lien: "don't be ridiculous. It could take them six months to get here. I don't think the Nazis will let me live that long."
Xianniang: "if you keep thinking like that the Nazis will pick up on it. I've noticed that they target the weakest ones first. That's why the Gestapo shot the old lady back in Chinatown."
Lien: "I never thought of it that way. Let's go find some work detail to join before the SS comes back."
Xianniang and Lien got up and went to a small shop where German army uniforms were taken to be repaired. The SS allowed Xianniang and Lien to join the work detail.
Xianniang and Lien helped each other every time they could from then on. Xianniang looked for signs that the Allies were winning the war. Xianniang saw several signs that the Nazis were about to lose the war. The Luftwaffe was opposing British and American air raids very weakly. Shorter range Allied planes such as spitfires and P-38's began to fly over Hamburg. One day Xianniang even saw a long range Soviet Ilyushin Il-4 heavy bomber fly over the city. Fuel had become so scarce that there were almost no cars or trucks driving through Hamburg.
As the western Allies drew closer to Hamburg the Nazis began to ship prisoners to other work camps further away from the front lines. Rations for the prisoners became extremely small and Xianniang started eating rats to stay alive. To make matters worse the SS began to shoot prisoners who could no longer work on a regular basis.
On the night of 22nd March 1945 Xianniang began to hear approaching Lancaster bombers in the distance and the air filled with British spitfire fighters.
Xianniang woke up Lien.
Xianniang: "the British are coming! We should be planning to escape!"
Lien: "I'm worried that the Nazis will shoot all of us to stop us from telling Allied war crimes investors what happened here."
Xianniang: "that's why we need to get out of here now."
Lien: "your right. If the British army has made it all the way to Western Germany the Nazis must know that the Third Reich is finished. The Nazis will be more concerned about avoiding being prosecuted for war crimes."
Xianniang: "what should we do."
Lien: "get ready to meet your ancestors."
Xianniang: "now Lien that's a terrible plan. I've got a better idea. Let's ambush the first guard who comes in here and take his weapon."
Lien: "even if we can get a gun we'll be shot by the SS long before we can get out of the camp."
Xianniang: "you're right about that. So here's what we need to do. We'll make our move as soon as the British bombers hit the camp."
Lien: "that sounds like a great plan."
Xianniang: "you distract the guard I'll take him down."
Lien: "how are you going to do that?"
Xianniang looked around the barracks. Xianniang saw a floorboard that was loose on one corner.
Xianniang: "help me get this board up."
Xianniang and Lien ripped up the floorboard. Xianniang took the board and hid behind the door.
Lien ran back to her bunk, pulled her fan out of a secret hiding place, and opened it.
Lien: "I knew that I hid this from the Nazis for a reason."
Xianniang: "that will certainly district the guard."
Xianniang and Lien rushed to get into position as the sound of approaching British bombers began to be heard outside.
Suddenly an SS soldier ran into the barracks with a K-98 rifle and a fixed S84/98 III bayonet. The Nazi immediately tried to bayonet Lien. Lien blocked the bayonet with her fan and pushed the barrel of the rifle away from herself. The Nazi fired his rifle but the shot went wide right. Xianniang struck the SS soldier in the back of his knees with the floorboard. The Nazi fell to his knees and Lien grabbed his rifle. Lien and the Nazi began to have a desperate struggle for control of the K-98.
Xianniang grabbed the Nazi's Luger 08 off his belt and shot the Nazi in the head. The Nazi fell dead and Lien took his K-98. Another Nazi with a StG-44 started running toward the barracks to crush the uprising before it spread. Fortunately Xianniang saw the Nazi coming and prepared an ambush. As soon as the Nazi got inside the barracks Lien fired the K-98 and shot the Nazi dead. Xianniang grabbed the StG-44 and the Nazi's ammunition belt. After some confusion Xianniang figured out how to work the StG-44.
Meanwhile a British spitfire fighter fired on the guard tower and silenced it's MG-42 machine gun.
Xianniang gave the Luger to Lien.
Xianniang: "you take this! My gun shoots a lot faster than yours."
Lien: "the British just knocked out the machine gun tower! Let's go to the front gate now before more Nazis get here."
Xianniang and Lien ran out of the barracks and were spotted by two Nazis. Both Nazis fired K-98 rifles at Xianniang and Lien. Xianniang and Lien took cover in a drainage ditch and Xianniang opened fire on the Nazis with the StG-44. Xianniang killed both Nazis. Xianniang and Lien broke cover and rushed toward the front gate as British bombs crashed through the fence nearby.
Xianniang: "it's now or never! You go first."
Lien: "I hope the ancestors are awake now!"
Xianniang and Lien broke cover and ran out of the prison camp. Several Nazis followed Xianniang and Lien seconds before Allied bombers flattened the camp.
Lien: "the storm troopers are right behind us! We're done for!"
Xianniang: "we need to hide in the rubble. They'll never find us!"
Another flight of Lancaster bombers passed over Xianniang's position and set the area on fire. In the smoke the Nazis briefly lost sight of Xianniang and Lien.
Xianniang grabbed Lien by her wrist and dragged her inside a basement of a destroyed building. The Nazis who were chasing Xianniang and Lien ran right past the hiding place.
Lien: "good move. Where did you learn to do that?"
Xianniang: "this is how I got out of Shanghai in 1937."
Lien: "how do you know this dump isn't going to go up in flames?"
Xianniang: "it already burned to the ground. There's nothing left to burn."
Lien: "that's good but what will we do for food and water? I'm thirsty already."
Xianniang: "after an air raid of this size there are bound to be some dead Nazi soldiers around. We'll take their ammunition. Somewhere in all this rubble there will be a few pots and pans. We'll collect wood from damaged buildings to use for firewood. We can boil seawater from the harbor and condense it into something metal. That will give us plenty of drinking water."
Lien: "that's all well and good but what will we eat?"
Xianniang: "this city is overrun with rats. We'll just have to live off of them until the British army gets here."
Lien: "I hope they hurry. We can't hide forever."
After three days in hiding Xianniang and Lien had recovered two pans from a destroyed house and a significant supply of ammunition for all of their weapons from two dead SS soldiers that Xianniang found. Lien also found a canteen on a dead Wehrmacht soldier. The canteen was extremely helpful because Xianniang and Lien could boil seawater and let the condensation drip into the canteen. Xianniang found an SS storm troopers steel helmet and put it over a pot of seawater. Lien lit a fire under the pot and the steam condensed on the inside of the helmet. Then Lien turned the helmet over and poured the fresh water into the canteen. After Xianniang and Lien boiled a dozen pans of seawater the canteen was full. Finally Lien scrapped the salt out of the pan with the bayonet from her rifle. Xianniang's desalination system solved Xianniang and Lien's drinking water needs.
Over the next several days the two friends settled into life in hiding and waited for the British army to arrive.
Xianniang: "I always wanted to join the resistance. But I never thought that I would start my own faction."
Lien: "China declared war on Germany on December 9th 1941."
Xianniang: "we might be the only Chinese resistance fighters in the entire European theater. We're the only ones carrying China's flag in Europe. We better kill lots of Nazis. Chiang Kai shek is counting on us."
Lien: "our primary responsibility is to survive this war and tell the world what the Nazis did to our people."
Xianniang: "you're right about that. Even still when the British army gets here I'm going to shoot a few Nazis."
Lien: "I might have a crack at them as well."
Xianniang and Lien started laughing.
Finally at the height of spring the Allies made the final push to capture central Germany. The Americans moved against Nuremberg in southern Germany and made the first contact with the Soviet Red army south of Berlin. Meanwhile the Soviet Union surrounded Berlin and trapped Hitler there. Finally the British Army moved north to capture Hamburg.
Over the next several days heavily armed Nazi fanatics from waffen SS took control of Hamburg and turned every building into a fortress. The SS also shot any German regular soldier or civilian who refused to fight to the death to defend Adolf Hitler.
What most Germans did not know was that Hitler was surrounded by Soviet soldiers and the Nazi dictator was beginning to think about shooting himself.
After several days of heavy fighting on the edge of Hamburg the British army made its move against the city center.
Xianniang could hear both British and Nazi machine guns and artillery pieces being fired very close to her hiding place.
The SS was using light antitank rockets known as panzerfausts to hold back the British 7th armored division. Losses on both sides were very heavy.
After days of heavy fighting Xianniang began to hear rifle fire right outside the hiding place. A Nazi MG-42 machine gun on a nearby building opened fire on the advancing British soldiers.
Finally after Xianniang and Lien had been in hiding for more than a month the sound of approaching soldiers was heard.
Lien: "can we get out of here now?"
Xianniang looked out of the hiding place. Xianniang saw a tiger two tank with SS markings drive by followed by over a hundred storm troopers.
Xianniang: "they're not ours. Stay down and be quite."
After the Nazis left Xianniang went outside to get more seawater. Off in the distance Xianniang saw the Nazis preparing defenses. Xianniang rushed back to the hiding place.
Xianniang: "SS soldiers are preparing to defend this neighborhood. The British must be getting close."
That night British artillery shells began to land vary close to Xianniang's hiding place. During a break in the shelling Lien suck out to get one last pot of seawater.
Suddenly British bombers filled the air. The Nazis returned fire on the bombers but the Nazi fire had little effect on the British bomber formation. Bombs dropped all around Lien's position. Lien ran back to the hiding place and spilled most of the seawater. Suddenly a Volkssturm member jumped into the hiding place.
Lien hit the Volkssturm member in the head with the water pot before he could aim his G-98 rifle at her. The Nazi irregular had not been issued a helmet. Xianniang bayoneted the Nazi soldier with the K-98 rifle before the Nazi recovered from the blow his head. The Volkssturm soldier fell dead.
Lien: "we've got to get this body out of here now!"
Xianniang: "no! If we put it outside the Nazis will find it. If the Nazis find the body they will find us next."
Lien: "but it could give us a disease!"
Xianniang: "I know. We'll just have to make a break for it a little sooner than I planned on."
By the next night the sound of approaching British tanks filled the air. The British army began firing heavy BL 5.5 inch field Guns into the center of Hamburg. Several British shells landed dangerously close to Xianniang and Lien's hiding place.
By dawn the sounds of rifle and machine gun fire began to be heard to the west.
Xianniang looked outside and saw two tiger two tanks driving up the road. Xianniang looked up the street and saw four British Cromwell tanks advancing straight at the Nazi tanks.
Xianniang retreated back into the hiding place.
Lien: "can we make a break for it yet!"
Xianniang: "keep your head down! This is going to be ugly!"
The British tanks saw the Nazis approaching and took aim but the Nazis fired first. Three of the British tanks were destroyed and both tigers survived. However by charging the British tanks the Nazis revealed their position to British artillery spotters.
The British army opened fire on the Nazi tanks with it's BL 5.5 inch guns and destroyed both tiger tanks.
The remaining British tank advanced and fired on a German machine gun emplacement in a ruined building nearby.
Xianniang: "the British are coming! Get ready to move now! I'll go first!"
Xianniang rushed out of the hiding place and shot a Nazi Wehrmacht soldier dead. But as they ran towards the British soldiers Xianniang and Lien had to take cover as four SS storm troopers fired three K-98's and an StG-44 at them.
Lien: "what do we do now?"
Xianniang: "I'll cover you. I need you to pick off that guy with the StG-44. Once he goes down I can deal with the rest of those Nazis."
Lien: "that's a tough shot. I don't know if I can make it."
Xianniang: "I know that you can make this shot. Start shooting five seconds after I open fire."
Xianniang stood up and fired when the Nazi had to reload his StG-44. The Nazi was unable to reload his StG-44 in the hailstorm of bullets Xianniang fired at him.
The Nazi tried to find better cover nearby but Lien was ready for him. Lien fired two shots with her K-98 rifle and killed the Nazi.
Xianniang reloaded her StG-44 and killed the remaining Nazis. Unfortunately machine gun fire prevented Xianniang from recovering the StG-44.
After taking the ammunition from the four dead Nazi soldiers Xianniang and Lien ran towards the British tank but before they got to the tank a Nazi MG-42 machine gun opened fire on them. Xianniang and Lien were pinned down again in the rubble.
Xianniang looked down the street to see how close the British tank was. The tank was only two blocks away.
Xianniang saw a Nazi with a panzerfaust about to fire on the tank. Xianniang broke cover when the Nazi firing the machine gun had to change out his overheated barrel from the MG-42 and rushed toward the tank. When she got a clear shot Xianniang fired her StG-44 at the Nazi who was targeting the British tank. Xianniang killed the Nazi before he could fire the panzerfaust at the British tank.
A few seconds later the tank fired it's main gun on the MG-42 machine gun emplacement and silenced the machine gun that had Lien pinned down.
With the machine gun silenced Xianniang signaled for Lien to join her.
A Nazi with a K-98 saw Lien making a run for the Allied lines and opened fire.
Lien was hit in the stomach and went down but she was still alive. Several SS soldiers closed in to finish Lien off. Xianniang ran to Lien's side and got there first. Xianniang had to fight off the SS single handedly. Xianniang opened fire with the StG-44 and killed all of the Nazis who were approaching Lien including the one who shot her. However another Nazi with an MP-40 sub-machine gun opened fire on Xianniang and hit Xianniang in the side.
Xianniang fell to the ground after being shot but still returned fire and killed the Nazi who shot her. Xianniang had to use most of her ammunition to fight off the first attack and a dozen more Nazis were about to overrun her position.
One of the Nazis stood up and prepared to throw a model 24 grenade at Xianniang.
Suddenly a shot from a British soldier with an SMLE mk 4 killed the Nazi before he could throw the grenade. Several British soldiers armed with SMLE mk 4's and sten guns reached Xianniang's position.
Xianniang only knew how to speak Mandarin and German. Xianniang tried to talk to the British soldiers in German.
Xianniang: "I've been shot but please help my friend first. She's hurt way worse than I am."
At first the British soldiers could not understand Xianniang. The English soldiers began to perform first aid on both Xianniang and Lien. Finally a few seconds later a British soldier armed with a Bren gun arrived and started talking to Xianniang in German.
British soldier: "it's OK love. Our medics are on the way and they are making haste."
Xianniang: "don't let my friend die. She is like a sister to me. She is the closest thing to family I have left in the world."
The British soldiers had to stop doing first aid on Xianniang and Lien to fight off more Nazis. With the bren gun the British soldiers quickly wiped out the attacking Nazis.
British soldier: "the lads are going to go clear the rest of the Jerries from this block. When the doc arrives I'll go join them."
The medic arrived right before Xianniang passed out from blood loss.
Two days later Xianniang woke up in a British field hospital.
A British medic who could speak German came over to Xianniang's bunk.
Xianniang: "where is my friend Lien?"
Medic: "she is in another tent for those more seriously wounded. I just came back from there. Lien will be fine in a few months. Now please tell me who are you two."
Xianniang: "we were prisoners of the Nazis. We managed to escape about a month ago. Did you find a man named Li anywhere in the city?"
Medic: "I don't know. I can get you a list of all of the prisoners who were liberated from the Hamburg area."
Xianniang: "yes sir. Please do that. I must find my brother."
Xianniang spent the next several days looking through the British list of liberated prisoners from in or near Hamburg but she could not find Li on the list. Next Xianniang began looking for her brother's name in captured German lists of prisoners who were transferred to other camps but again there was no sign of him.
While Xianniang was at the hospital news came that Hitler had shot himself and Germany had surrendered unconditionally to the Allied forces. SS leader Heinrich Himmler was captured by the American army and committed suicide.
A month later Xianniang was finally able to leave the hospital and see Lien.
Lien: "I'm so glad you can leave the hospital. The doctor says I should be able to leave the hospital in another month."
Xianniang: "in your last letter you said that you still couldn't sleep because of the pain. Is it getting any better?"
Lien: "the bullet shattered my lowest rib on the left side but after my third surgery I started doing a lot better. Even still I can't sleep."
Xianniang: "why is that?"
Lien: "after the British brought some of the survivors from the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in here I started having nightmares about what I saw."
Xianniang: "I read about that place in the new German language Allied newspaper. It was a true factory of death."
Lien: "it's a good thing that we were selected to work. The others were selected to die."
Xianniang: "and the Russians found a much bigger death camp in Poland called Auschwitz. I'm terrified that my brother might have gotten sent there."
Lien: "the Americans also found a huge concentration camp called Dachau in southern Germany. Lots of people accused of being Communists were sent there. Thousands of them died."
Xianniang: "is there any chance that my brother might have survived and be there now?"
Lien: "it is at least possible."
Xianniang: "when you're strong enough to take the trip we'll go to Dachau and look for him."
Two months later Lien was able to walk again but she was still not strong enough to leave Hamburg. Xianniang went back to her former home in the city and found that her brother's Chinese restaurant had been destroyed in the final battle for Hamburg. Xianniang was unable to salvage anything from the restaurant.
Xianniang bought a copy of the German language Allied newspaper on the way back to the the hospital.
Top story: "Japan surrenders unconditionally to the Allied forces. World War Two is over!"
Xianniang ran back to the hospital to tell Lien that the war was over.
A month later Lien was strong enough to leave Hamburg. Xianniang and Lien began to plan their trip to Dachau. But before Xianniang and Lien could leave Hamburg a British soldier gave Xianniang a letter.
British soldier: "our intelligence officers went through captured German war documents and they have some information for you."
Xianniang took a deep breath and opened the letter.
Letter: "dear Xianniang
I'm afraid that I can not give you my name for security reasons. I am most sorry about this Madame.
MI-6's examination of captured German documents from the Langer Morgen forced labor camp has revealed that your brother Li was accused of attempting to escape from a work detail in a factory in Hamburg and shot on the day of June 6, 1944. We are terribly sorry about your loss Madame.
Your friends at MI-6"
Xianniang dropped the letter and began crying.
Later Xianniang went to tell Lien what happened.
Lien: "well there is no point to going to Dachau now."
Xianniang: "unfortunately you're right. Let's just find a way to get back to China."
Lien: "I've got an idea about that but you're not going to like it."
Xianniang: "what is it?"
Lien: "we'll help people all over Hamburg clean up and rebuild their homes and business for payment."
Xianniang: "out of the question! I'm not going to help a bunch of two bit Nazis! Let them do their own work for a change."
Lien: "I know that it's far from an ideal arrangement but I don't see any other option."
Xianniang took a deep breath.
Xianniang: "OK let's do it. The sooner we get out of here the better."
Xianniang and Lien worked in Hamburg for four months earning as much money as they could. After four months Xianniang and Lien had earned enough money to buy tickets on a ship to Shanghai. Xianniang and Lien left Germany never to return.
December 1945- April 1947
When they arrived in Shanghai Xianniang and Lien began working in a Chinese restaurant.
One year after World War Two Xianniang and Lien traveled to Chongqing to look for their family members. Xianniang was looking for her father and Lien needed to find her brother.
After several weeks of looking for their family members Xianniang and Lien found out that none of their family members survived the war.
Lien's brother was killed in the battle of Mount Song and Xianniang's father was killed in a Japanese air raid on Chongqing in 1941. Lien and Xianniang had no one but each other.
For two months Xianniang and Lien did not know how to rebuild their lives. Finally Xianniang found the answer. Xianniang told Lien her idea while she was on break at the Chinese restaurant Xianniang and Lien were working at.
Xianniang: "we could open our own Chinese restaurant."
Lien loved Xianniang's idea.
One year later the two friends opened their own Chinese restaurant in Canton.
In a side room of the restaurant Xianniang set up a small museum dedicated to the Chinese victims of the Third Reich. Lien and Xianniang's Chinese restaurant was very popular with the local community and even managed to stay in business after the Chinese Communist party came to power in 1949. In the years that followed World War Two both Lien and Xianniang applied for compensation from Germany but there petitions were rejected because officially at least the Chinese were not targeted by the Nazis because of their race. Despite the lack of compensation Xianniang and Lien ran their restaurant until they both died of natural causes in the early 2000's.
This book is a work of fiction inspired by true events.
At least 11 million civilians and Allied prisoners of war were murdered by the Nazi regime during World War Two. This figure does not include civilian deaths caused by Nazi military operations against Allied cities or the 36,000 merchant sailors killed by German U-boat attacks during the battle of the Atlantic.
The Nazi battleship KMS Bismarck was sunk by the British Royal Navy in the Atlantic on May 27th 1941.
The persecution of the small Chinese community in Germany was largely overlooked by post war Allied war crimes investors due to the enormous scale of Nazi atrocities committed across Europe.
No Nazi military officer or political leader ever stood trial for a war crime committed against the Chinese community.
Germany paid $13,800,000,000 in today's dollars in reparations to the Jewish victims of the Nazis after the war. However the Chinese community was not included in the program because officially the Chinese were not targeted because of their race.
However many of the Nazis who were responsible for the persecution of the Chinese community were found guilty of other war crimes by the Allies. Among the high ranking Nazis who were executed by the Allies after the war were:
Hans Frank, Wilhelm Frick, Alfred Jodl, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Wilhelm Keitel, Joachim von Ribbentrop, Alfred Rosenberg, Fritz Sauckel, Arthur Seyss-Inquart, and Julius Streicher. All were executed by hanging on on October 16, 1946 in Nuremberg Germany. Luftwaffe leader Hermann Göring was also sentenced to be executed on the 16th but he committed suicide the night before.
The first commandant of the Langer Morgen forced labor camp Johannes Rode was captured by the Allies in 1946. Rode died in custody in 1947.
A few other high ranking Nazis did not survive the war.
Gestapo commander Reinhard Heydrich was assassinated in 1942 by British secret against.
Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels both committed suicide in Berlin in the final days of the war.
Allied occupation of Germany
Germany was divided into four occupation zones by the Allies after the war. The USA, the UK, and France occupied western Germany. The Soviet Union occupied east Germany and most of Berlin. The state of West Prussia was abolished and its territory divided between Russia and Poland.
The western powers ended their occupation of West Germany in 1949. The Soviet Union however continued to occupy East Germany until 1990.
Germany's military was completely disbanded after the war. A self defense force known as the Bundeswehr was established in West Germany in 1955.
Today Germany is a member of NATO and closely allied with three of its former wartime enemies the United States, Britain, and France. Germany's relations with Russia (the former Soviet Union) remain strained however.
Over one hundred prisoners died at the Langer Morgen forced labor camp including at least 17 Chinese prisoners. At least ninety prisoners were killed in the Allied air raid on the camp on 22-23 March 1945. No part of the Langer Morgen forced labor camp survived the war. Today a memorial plaque marks the location of the camp. Another memorial plaque in Hamburg also marks the location of the former Chinese district in the st Pauli district. This plaque is dedicated to the Chinese who were rounded up by the Gestapo on May 13, 1944. The exact number of Chinese civilians killed by the Third Reich is unknown because the Nazis destroyed most of their documents at the end of the war.
148 Chinese citizens were repatriated from Germany to China after the end of World War Two. Only a handful of Chinese citizens decided to stay in Germany after the war. Approximately 1800 Chinese citizens lived in Germany in 1939.
The Chinese community in Germany did not fully recover from the war until the 1980's