cretan surrenders
What a sight is presented by our Mountain infantry. Suntanned and parched, their uniforms in rags, caps flattened and caked with sweat and mud. Our mountaineering boots are patched up with insulating tape and leather straps, soles are worn through, nails torn out from jumping and falling. Arms and legs are grazed.   

 Every group has its wounded and yet we carry on with unheard of élan. We no longer feel the heat and have overcome extreme exhaustion.  

 Ammunition and more of it is our daily prayer! More of it for the last blow. All day long supply columns wind their way up the mountains with ammunition loaded on donkeys and provisions also reach us. Water! Carriers bring this precious cloudy liquid in water bottles on donkey back from the wells down in the valley to the forward positions where mountain troops are lying on bare rocks in wait for the enemy in that terrible heat.  

 Below us is the sea and the port of Sfakia with the white cubes of its serried buildings. The rugged mountain sides drop steeply to the ground below, Crete’s southern coast towers over the blue waters of the Mediterranean like a cyclopean wall with mighty debris tumbled from it and then raised high by a giant’s fist against titanic powers.  

Kurt Nether, Germany  

wounded on Kreta
We Fought The Hardest battles In Crete
 We the mountaineers, went to reinforce the parachutists. To begin with they took us to Crete in Italian warships. On the way there we were ordered to return to mainland Greece because the British fleet had sailed from Suda and we’d fall in the midst of them. We then returned to the mainland in Greece with the Italian warships, and early the next morning we left for Crete with the JU52, I think.  

 We landed at Maleme airport and advanced fighting all the way towards Suda Bay. We stayed in Crete for eight days. The fighting was so swift that the population either fled of hid underground. So we did not see any locals. We fought the Maoris, (Neu Zeelanders) and they were very tough. No, I never heard their "Haka" war cry. We would hear various cries, but nothing was clear because everything was happening so quickly.  

 Life at war cannot be compared to life on the home front. There is no anxiety during battle. You just have to defend yourself. You just have be stronger than your adversary. Courage and anguish do not exist here. Here it is a matter of life and death. You  do not have time to think clearly, because you are just trying to avoid getting killed.  

 The Junkers 52 carried between eight to twelve men, usually twelve. We landed on this sandy beach and advanced. The JU 52’s returned as the British were firing at them with their artillery. It is difficult to describe what you feel during battle. You have to make split second decisions.  

 During the Second World War I fought first in Poland, then France, mainland Greece, Crete, Norway (the Ice front) and finally in Africa, Tunisia. We fought the hardest battles in Crete.  

 Happy times go by and bad memories gradually lose their intensity. There is nothing pleasant about war. No, the soldier does not have the sense of victory as, for example a footballer has. A soldiers only purpose is to accomplish his mission. After that he knows he must go and fight somewhere else again. It is a hard life being a soldier.  

Verbal testimony of Johann Pfefferkorn, Austria
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