German Veteran Returns Stolen Ham
 By FREDERIC VEILLE
 Associated Press Writer
       TILLY-LA-CAMPAGNE, France (AP) Some wrongs burn in the memory for years until they are finally put right.
       Hans Kupperfahrenberg traveled from Germany to a tiny Normandy village just to return a ham like the one he stole from a French  farmer during World War II.
       Making good on a 54-year-old promise, the 75-year-old German war veteran apologized Monday night to Louise Marie, now 87, saying he was starving when he stole her ham in the summer of 1944.
       In a ceremony at the town hall of Tilly-la-Campagne, population  70, Kupperfahrenberg delivered two hams - one German, one French -  to make amends for his wartime theft.
       ``It was war. We were retreating and we hadn't eaten for several days,'' Kupperfahrenberg recalled. ``It was wrong to eat your ham, but in the situation, I felt no remorse. My hunger was too great, and the hope of finding food too slim.''
       It was July 1944, only a month after Allied troops landed on the  beaches of Normandy.
       Kupperfahrenberg said Marie had given him and other soldiers from the 21st armored division some eggs for an omelette. While he was cooking them in the fireplace, a ham hidden high in the chimney crashed down into the pan.
      ``We had stashed it there so no one would steal it,'' Marie said.
       Kupperfahrenberg said he'd always promised himself he would one day make up for robbing the generous Frenchwoman.
       He returned to Tilly for the first time last summer, but wasn't able to locate Marie's farmhouse. Instead, he presented a ham to the residents of an old age home.
       Marie read about him in the local paper and contacted officials who tracked him down at his home in Essen, Germany.
Email: Click here for email
Back to the Letters Page