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
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.
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.
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.
to the Letters Page