Veteran Stories:
Otto Hasibeder

Air Force

  • Dieppe POWs being marched to the Stalag. 1942. Photograph taken by an unknown German soldier.

    Kenneth Curry
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"About the Dieppe landing -- well, the messages were getting so crazy. I mean, the bombs were dropped on boats, and artillery. And I couldn't figure out that anybody could get out alive on a mission like that. "

Transcript

Right on the beginning we had to sign a form to be very careful when talking to anybody about what our job was. Our job was consisting officially only [to] listen to weather forecasting and wireless stations. Not even to mention anything to our own German soldiers. If we went out we went to different places. Every month we were warned about that to keep our mouth shut. Our duty was too important to even let anyone know.  We were warned not to write anything to our friends at home or even our parents [about] what we were doing. Official designated thing was weather forecasting.

 

Well, that night (gap on tape)  usually on to my unit. There was not much traffic at 11:00 - 12:00. Around 12:30 -- as far as I can remember that was the time -- I started to pick up a message. It sounded funny to me. I never heard the call sign of the station before so I took the message. I wasn't thinking much. Maybe somebody changed the name, so I took the message.  I wasn't thinking much. Maybe somebody changed and sent it in to the decoding department and about 10 minutes later got the answer from another station to that station. I took that message and sent it into the decoding department. Then, shortly after, another message came from where I took the first message from. I started to get curious after the second or third message. I called the decoding department. I pressed twice.  That usually meant that the officer would look in and see if there is something wrong. So he came over, Lieutenant Dornhoffer from Munich. He was a bright guy. He said "What's wrong?" I said, "I've found something funny" and pointed out the difference in the [messages]. "I wondered if you started to look the messages over? I think we'd better get right on them and see if we can break the code." Because it was a different code than we usually have.  The other code was already broken during the month. There was nothing big going on anyway.

 

So they got to work, the decoding department said and we will get on right away and see if we can break into the code. This is a different code. He said, "Keep a watch on the thing". And I kept checking the messages back and forth, back and forth, sent them in. And he came over again and he said, "We still didn't break it yet but it won't be long but in the meantime I'd better call our company commander and get him up here. There is certainly something fishy." That's not normal.  You get used to a certain thing. He came up about 4:00 o'clock, as far as I remember, or before 4:00. They conferred.  They went forth and back, forth and back and the messages started to become come more and more. I don't know when or even if they broke the code completely but then before 5:00 it started already. Suddenly the messages came uncoded.

 

About the Dieppe landing -- well, the messages were getting so crazy. I mean, the bombs were dropped on boats, and artillery. And I couldn't figure out that anybody could get out alive on a mission like that. We heard mostly only from -- well, beach was mentioned. I didn't know which was that beach and which was that beach and which was that beach. We knew only that they tried on all those five points to get on land and secure a beachhead. But then after about two, three hours, I would say, it really dawned on me that this was an impossible thing. More and more boats were sunk. Smaller ones-- some tried to escape to get on the boats and were shot down. Bombs were dropped and artillery was firing. I couldn't even think clearly any more. I just took the messages and looked at the thing. I said "How long can that go on?" It got down and down and down and then some of the messages were told to try to embark and get on and get away as much as possible manpower. Didn't worry too much, I think, about material any more.

 

After that I just needed a good rest. I laid down. I think I fell asleep within five minutes. And I slept right through and then in the evening meal they woke me up and said I don't have to go back to work tonight. I said, "Oh that is good.  I can sleep and have a little drink and get over the thing."

 

Then, the following morning the commander called me in. They were not far apart, the company office from our villa was only about a three minute walk.  He was invited to fly over to Dieppe to see what happened and he said, since I was the one who took the messages, he asked if I wanted to come along.  I said, "Yes, I would like to come along just to see". I mean, it was a different thing for me to get into the airplane and just look down from the top. And this was just about the end of my Dieppe experience.

 

 

Interview with Otto Hasibeder - FCWM Oral History Project

Accession Number CWM 20020121-126

George Metcalf Archival Collection

© Canadian War Museum

 

Entrevue avec Otto Hasibeder - Projet d'histoire orale du AMCG

No d’accession MCG 20020121-126

Collection d’archives George Metcalf

© Musée canadien de la guerre

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