Band of Brothers

Episode 9

The true story of the men of Easy Company, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne

Episode: 09/10

Title: Why We Fight

Director: David Frankel

This episode perfectly presents the state of mind of the American soldiers, close to the victory in the course of the year 1945.

The episode begins with a quartet of German musicians playing Opus 131 in C minor of Beethoven in the midst of ruined houses. A few men from the Easy Company listen to them. We then see a flashback. The Easy Company is located in the city of Stürzelbourg.

Lewis Nixon

Lewis Nixon, Richard Winters’ best friend, is widely shown in this episode. An extraordinary but true fact, Lewis Nixon did not fire a single shot from the entire war. His superiors of the 506th regiment did not understand him, and his wife had just sent him a letter of rupture, asking for a divorce. With so many problems, Nixon gradually became enclosed in the world of alcohol.

The fact of being a single shot at an enemy during the entire period of the war is not as rare as can be imagined. Many soldiers, although they fired shots, never knew if they had killed anyone. This is because of many of these fired on hidden targets behind obstacles such as dwellings or tree foliage. This can also be explained by taking into account the distance with the enemy or its mobility.

About 100,000 Germans surrendered at the beginning of 1945. Many Easy soldiers were convinced that the war was coming to an end and that they would go back to the United States. But Hitler, before committing suicide, had ordered the last remaining German soldiers to continue fighting in the mountains.

Landsberg camp

The members of the Easy are therefore sent to a village near Landsberg. On the road to Landsberg, David Webster, who was on the seat of the DUKW vehicle that was carrying him and a few other members of the E-Company, witnessed a scene that remained embedded in his mind: three soldiers Emerge from a building with three German prisoners. These three soldiers who hold the prisoners in check are French soldiers – many French and American spectators thought they saw American soldiers.

These German prisoners are executed coldly and then stripped of their possessions. David Webster wrote after the war that he had not seen the Germans killed, but that he heard clearly the detonations of the pistols handled by the French soldiers. He then turned to one of the American recruits, too enthusiastic to go to battle, and said to him: “Here you are, your damned war! How do you like it?”

Arriving in the village, the Easy Company settles into the houses and immediately organizes patrols to secure the area. Some time later, one of these patrols, made up of George Luz, Denver Randleman, Frank Perconte and O’Keefe, encountered something that no one had ever imagined. Frank Perconte immediately returned to the village to inform his superiors and especially Richard D. Winters. The patrol had just discovered a Nazi labor camp.

The camp, located near Lansberg, is represented not for accountability but to translate the first vision of the American soldiers who discovered it. Obviously, the degree of horror produced by the camps could not be represented in an extremely realistic way, but the film shows us the reality of Nazism, the reality of fascism. The German guards had left the camp a few hours before the Americans arrived in the village. A German resident had surely warned the guards, which proves that the citizens knew the existence of labor camps.

Imagine for a moment these young Allied soldiers, discovering these men in extreme under-nourishment, typhoid patients and covered by vermin, skeletal men in a universe of death and destruction: the camp guards had taken time to empty their reserves of ammunition by firing all their last cartridges on the prisoners.

Some of the Americans had the courage to take their cameras or cameras and immortalize the impossible. Immortalize the Holocaust. All this in order to show the rest of the world still standing and for the succeeding generations that a man, worshiping an idea, a politician named Adolf Hitler, made the greatest crime against Humanity which never existed by attempting to Put into practice the answer to the “Final Solution” of the “Jewish Question”. Hitler and his henchmen committed the worst, the Americans and the Soviet troops immortalized it so that WE, the future generations and our children, no longer experience such horrors. Never forget.

The American reaction

Colonel Sink went to visit the camp as soon as it was discovered. He informed General Taylor, commander of the 101st American Airborne Division. Prisoners had to be sent back to the camp to control their nutrition for a while before releasing them. Soldier Liebgott of the Easy Company, a German-speaking Jewish American, was instructed to translate the communications between the former prisoners and the American soldiers. The women’s labor camp was just across the village.

The next day, the American soldiers, shocked by this discovery, surrounded the German village of Lansberg and all the civilians from 14 to 70 years are in charge to clean the camp and to bury the corpses.

A few days later the Easy was transferred to Bavaria in southern Germany to fight the remaining German soldiers and capture Hitler’s “eagle’s nest” in the Berchtesgaden at the top of the Kehlstein mountain.

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