Saturday, July 21, 2007


The sausage test

At the Viktualienmarkt in Munich. Each of these five shopfronts is a different butcher.
With a wide-angle lens, I'd have gotten a few more in this shot.

During the Ardennes battle in December 1944 (aka the Battle of the Bulge), a German commando unit infiltrated American lines in captured U.S. vehicles wearing American army uniforms. German soldiers fluent in unaccented American English were recruited for the purpose. News of this infiltration, augmented by rumor, spread during the battle and caused a lot of panic.

As made famous in war movies, American MPs developed impromtu tests to distinguish friend from foe, basically quizzing suspected infiltrators on American trivia ("who plays shortstop for the Brooklyn Dodgers?" and the like.)

I was put in mind of this recently standing in front of a sausage counter in a Munich butcher shop. Like the French with their cheeses, so the Germans with their cold cuts and sausages: it seems that every village in the entire country has developed, over the centuries, its own special brand. The array of sausages and cold cuts is so bewildering that it would take years of study to master and at least several months to develop a working knowledge.


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This would have been an effective way for the Germans to have exposed a non-German infiltrator during the war. "You will now look at these cold cuts and name them, please!"

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