"just because he was German doesn’t mean he wasn’t nice. I mean, he was doing what our boys were doing; he thought he was fighting for his country."
A German prisoner of war wrote that and he was my patient. I had a room with four pilots, four German pilots and they were all prisoners of war. But this one was a very, very nice fellow. And he, you know, I looked after them. I had a soldier [guarding the room] inside and outside. And when I did this fellow, and the fellow beside him, they were very nice. But the two across were German pilots that had been taken prisoners of war and they were very difficult. That’s why they had a Canadian soldier go with me across the room and I didn’t go and do anything for these patients alone, without a soldier with me, a Canadian soldier. Because they were antag-[antagonistic], you know, they were against Canada. But this fellow and the fellow beside him were very nice; this fellow was a very nice fellow, Ernst Ewers.
I forget why he was in the hospital, but he was very nice and he was very intelligent and I’ll tell you, he had the most, he had the Iron Cross. And he had the most beautiful uniforms, oh, they had beautiful uniforms. And when I first went in there, he had a book from German to English. It was a lovely book. And he turned out very nice. And when he went out of the hospital, I wasn’t on duty when they discharged him. When I got back on duty, I got called to the administrator’s office. And they wanted to know what had gone on…, I said, nothing. I said, when I came back on -I had him for about a week or 10 days - I said, nothing. I was engaged at that time to Walter, overseas, Walter. He was, all my life I’d known him and he was a pilot and he was killed just before he came home.
But anyway, and I said, nothing! I said, he was a patient. I said, I had four of them in one room and I said, the soldiers didn’t have to come with me with him, [there were] soldiers standing inside the room anyway. I said, they were nice. But the guys on the other side, I said, were antagonistic. That’s why … I said, this was a very nice fellow. And so he was discharged and about three days after the hospital got this [postcard] - to me, mailed to me - they never called me for about three days. They called me down to the office. I was waiting to graduate, I was finished, I was graduating.
And they wanted to know what went on. And I said, nothing went on. I said, they were my patients. I said, the four German pilots were my patients and I said, nothing went on and everything. So they, then he pulled this out and handed it to me. And it’s like, my name was Harper, Lillian Harper. And it says, Miss Harler, it’s German, you see, and then he wrote this: Dear Miss Harler, Fanny!, he called me Fanny, he didn’t know my name and of course, I wouldn’t, didn’t give my name to any patients. And this is what he called me. He said, you know that ten days ago, suddenly, I had to quit the beautiful hospital. It was not possible for me to say goodbye to you and Miss Armstrong and to thank you for the kind and troublesome treatment which you had with me during my unforgettable days in the hospital. I wish you and all the other nurses I know a Happy New Year, with the best greetings, I remain yours very sincerely, Ernst Ewers. And he was a German pilot. And I got, I said, well, I said, that’s my, my letter. And I felt, they’d kept it for maybe three or four days, they wanted to know what was going, a big office in the hospital, I said, nothing. I said, I had four prisoners of war to look after. And I said, he was just a nice fellow. I said, for goodness sakes, just because he was German doesn’t mean he wasn’t nice. I mean, he was doing what our boys were doing; he thought he was fighting for his country.
I said to Ernst when he was in there, I said, you know, my fiancé, I said, the man I’ll marry someday maybe, and he understood that and I said, I hope if he’s like you, a prisoner in Germany, that somebody be nice. Because he said to me, why you, why you nice to me? And I said, because you’re another human being. You’re another child of God and you’re another human being. I said, I had no reason not to be nice to you. And that’s how I felt, you know.