GERMAN Soldiers as perhaps the most Civil of All!
There Once Was A World A 900 Year Chronicle of the Shtetl of Eishyshok
at p 57
World War I was perhaps the principal catalyst in Eishyshok's transition to modern life. Though Eishyshok endured its share of suffering in that war as the Russians, Germans, Poles and Lithuanians fought for control of it, and the Jews were made scapegoats with each of the seven shifts in sovereignty that occurred during these years, it in fact fared much better than many other towns - thanks to the Germans. Most of the war (1915 to 1918) was spent under German rule, and the Germasn proved a relatively benevolent force. Not only did they assist the kahal in caring for the victims of hunger and typhus, they improved many of the physical conditions in the shtet. Houses and shutters were painted, wooden sidewalks were constructed, additional trees were planted, new crops such as tomatoes and cultivated strawberries were introduced, and some of the side streets were paved with cobblestones like those lining the main streets and the market square.
at p 223
On the basis in German captivity, most of the World War I veterns had great faith in the German respect for law and order, as did their fellow Eishyshkians, who had spent the better part of two years under a very peaceful occupation. Thus,when the "new Germans" invaded Eishyshok on June 23, 1941, all efforts at resistance or escape were rejected by the older people. The former POWS kept reassuring the younger generation that the 'new Germans' of World War II would prove heirs to the good Germans (gutte Deitschen) of World War I.
But the Plotnik Bible would be a casualty of the "new Germans" of the next war. Sarah had had her father's wedding present shipped to her after she emigrated to Palestine, but its journey was interrupted by the outbreak of war, and it was returned to Eishyshok. When these "new Germans" and their Lithuanian collaborators murdered 4,000 people in Eishyshok, their victims included most of the World War I veterans who had so highly praised the civility of their fathers.