THE TABLEAU OF THE OCEAN WAS PEACEFUL AND MAJESTIC, HAD IT NOT BEEN FOR THE HUMAN MARKERS NO ONE WOULD HAVE KNOWN WHAT HAD HAPPENED HERE.
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A dog sniffs along the wet sand, stopping here and there to investigate stranded flotsam. In the distance two horses are trained to pull a cart on the firm sand by the water’s edge. Beyond, on the horizon cliffs raise out of the Atlantic. A clear blue sky canopies the ocean as warm rays wash the scene. A soft ocean roar as waves breaks far off the wide beach. In a few hours they will almost reach the wind whipped grass rooted in the sandbanks marking the land sea boundary. The hearty grass rustles as it is bent away from the sea by the ocean breeze. It is idyllic. The sheer beauty of the landscape makes it harder to fathom what went down here a man’s age ago.
It was in the early morning of June 6, 1944 the then almost 21 year old Heinrich Severloh stood behind a German MG42 machine gun with two rifles at his side as the first Higgins boats approached. The young solder, one of 40 men assigned to this stretch of beach got first contact after 0630 as the first US soldiers reached codename Easy Red. Heinrich pulled the trigger and fired as long as he had munitions. His memoirs long thereafter states that he caused a couple of thousands casualties earning him the nickname "the Beast of Omaha". However, both German and US military historians refer to his claim as “a war story”.
Standing on the beach, a day like this, looking up the hill it is hard to fathom the guts of those men who seventy-four years ago literally stared into the bullet spitting barrels of the guns of Severloh and his Wehrmacht comrades. The names of those brave allied soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice are etched in stone at the memorials standing at WN62 (Wiederstandsnest = Resistance nest)
Thousands more “died so we could live free” and rest at the nearby US Military Cemetery.
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