I feel my grandfather sometimes, I feel his presence, or maybe it's wishing that I did causing that feeling. He died way before I was born (from mercury poisoning). I'm 20 now, and my mother was about 5 when the Nazis were raging around her country - Germany - trying to round up the Jews and other miscreants to shove in their death camps. My grandfather was a scientist - the villages' doctor, but a chemist first; when my mother and her sister were starving due to the rationing, he would make medicine and glycerine and rosewater solution along with soap etc in exchange for food. Apparently he was pretty funny too, but that's not what I'm talking about right now. Anyhow, he didn't join the army.

My grandfather, who was not Jewish, had a lot of Jewish friends. And when the SS came to round up all the Jews from the village, he got all his Jewish friends (and their friends and families) and put them in small cavities in the several massive piles of coal he had in his outhouse he had dug out. The SS came to the house and stuck their bayonets into the piles of coal (and hit a few people but they kept quiet). Undoubtedly, he was risking his life when he could have very easily turned a blind eye.

It is very hard to imagine what living under Hitler's regime must have been like. Apparently he once visited the village where my grandparents lived, and they all had to line up against a road whilst he was driven down it giving the ol' salute. When they got back from the rally, everybody swore that he was staring at them the whole time. And some of these people were on the other side of the road. What I'm trying to say is that he had a massive influence, over everybody in that country, regardless of whether you liked him or not. You may say that's a given, but I'm just pointing out that I'd probably go along with what I was forced to do... I wouldn't have had the courage he did.

A bit later of course, he was rounded up and taken to a POW camp in the USA. He didn't return until 5 years later, emaciated, and I would presume, pretty traumatised - and yet things got back to normal pretty quickly. As far as I know, he didn't let the experience affect my mother's family.

I consider my grandfather to be an actual hero, and he is very much a role model for me, although I have no idea what he was really like - or even if the story as I know it is true - nevertheless, I try to live up more to my grandfather than my father (and I've actually met my father... well, a few times), and I often hope there is in fact an afterlife so I can meet someone who, even with scant information to go on, I feel I have a real connection with, and a great admiration for.

Although I'd like to believe that I'm similar to him, I think were he noding this, he'd have the courtesy and mental discipline to remember his grandfather's first name, unlike me, the piece of shit that I am.