"Rome wasn't built in a day, but it might have been if they were German."
I am preemptively writing this one because, if people start reading this, someone is bound to look at Mr.S's age and area of origin and start asking questions after putting 2 and 2 together. As I have pointed out, Mr.S is 92 and is from Austria. That means that he was born in 1922. Like many who were teenagers in Austria and Germany during the '30s, at the time he embraced the political lines of the NSDAP: the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartai, or National Socialist German Workers Party. For those of you still scratching your heads: to put it blatantly, he was a Nazi.
To me things like this are something that I would consider private information. However, there are a few reasons I'm ok with sharing this info:
1: I've been using a pseudonym for Mr.S so I feel I'm not giving away that much about him.
2: As I pointed out above, with a bit of math and common sense most people could figure this bit of info out on their own.
3: Mr.S does not seem shy about sharing this information, and often will make jokes about that era.
Most of the details I know about his involvement has been what he has volunteered: I try not to ask too many questions. He did enlist and serve on the axis side, though from what it sounds like by the time he was done with his training the tides of the war had turned. I'm not sure exactly when his unit surrendered, but it sounds like his army career was not that long.
Now days someone with a really tough boss might say "my boss is a total Nazi!" However, as far as I can tell, those who work here are closest to being able to make that claim, though even there its not quite the case. My boss was a total Nazi, but Mr.S is no longer a Nazi today, and knows that his choices then were wrong but were the result of being swept up in a political movement. Despite his total computer illiteracy, he has told me that if, at that time, the world had an internet and people around the world could see what everyone else around the world thought, he doubts there would be so many people making the mistake that he did. I know I often disagree with him on many things, but on this one I hope he is correct.
edit: As it turns out, I misunderstood a bit about his service. When he finished his training the war was NOT almost over. Rather, he had gotten out of training and was on his way to the Eastern Front when the transport vehicle he was in hit a landmine and he sustained a minor injury. This injury gained him an iron cross and landed him in a hospital. By the time he was healed and out of the hospital the war had turned tides, Austria had already been invaded by the allies, and his unit was getting ready to surrender.
Also, in case anyone was wondering about how much he held onto his old National Socialist ideals, his current wife (the one he's been with for over 60 years) is Jewish, he officially converted (though that was probably just so that her family would allow the marriage), and they got married in a synagogue. I know that doesn't entirely answer the question, but it quiets enough of my doubts about the man in those regards.