He and his comrades adopted a mongrel dog and named him Schickelgruber. That unwieldy name had been Hitler’s mother’s family name. Lenny Bruce had a character ask another if Schickelgruber was a hoof and mouth disease. The GIs (“government issue”) no doubt got a kick out of calling this mutt Schickelgruber, until one sad day when the little dog was run over by an airplane. I believe I once saw a black and white photo of this little black Spaniel-looking dog.
That detail is really all I know for certain about my father’s time in Germany after the war. I don’t know what dates he was there or exactly where he was stationed, although it was after the war ended in Germany.
There are records somewhere in Washington, and there is probably a way to get his service record, though his service seems to have involved nothing more dramatic than reading manuals to the mechanics in his crew when they needed him to look up some detail or part number while working on a plane or truck.
I can also do the math, he turned 18 in June, 1942. He would have been drafted shortly after that, and served 36 months, a number he cited often enough for me to easily know by heart. 36 months from September 1942, say, puts his arrival in Germany in the late spring/early summer of 1945, since he would have been discharged in September 1945. In April 1945 Hitler married Eva Braun in the bunker and shot her and his beloved dog the next day, before doing what he should have done decades earlier and blowing his tortured brains out. Irv was there, we can deduce, sometime between May and September of 1945, a lovely time of year in post-Nazi Germany, I’ve heard.
Corporal Israel, as his fellow GIs often called him, I suspect, somehow continued to enjoy his freedom from the hell he grew up in. He was surrounded by other young guys, many of whom he considered friends (though he kept in touch with none of them afterwards, Darius White– from Eagle Crotch, Arkansas, in Irv’s farcical telling– is the only name even known to me ) and they were engaged in an important, world historic mission. They had, in fact, just helped kick Hitler’s fucking ass. Fascism had been defeated (or so they all believed in that heady summer). Nazi Germany after the surrender was likely no worse for the young corporal (he may have been a sergeant by then) than sitting in a slum with his enraged mother, being called Sonny.