My great uncle was a drinking man, he would drink heavily from the moment when he woke up until the moment he went to bed, but I do not remember ever seeing him stumbling, walking funny or having problems with his speech.
When he was at home his favorite spot was on the couch in the corner of the room, just next to the wood stove which was running always except on really hot days.
He drank from very small glasses (shot glasses), bottle was never visible (he kept bottle behind the couch) on the table there was silver box for cigarettes, with tobacco and papers for cigarette rolling inside, and his shot glass.
Table was old type table with a glass plate on top of it, and under that glass he kept paper that says that government and state recognizes him as a member and organizer of the early resistance movement against the German and Italian occupation (WW2).
Table, his cigarette box, his rakija and everything else in his room was off limits for us kids. He lived with my grand parents, he never married, no kids.
Actually now when I remember he himself was pretty much off limits for us kids, only person who ever had some influence over him was my grandmother-his sister, she was the only one who could tell him sometimes that he need to do something.
He was one tough and dangerous old dude, sitting in the room. Drinking and staring in the spot where the wall connects with ceiling.
Sometimes we kids sneak in the room, seeking for stories, or money from him, in return we would bring firewood from shed for his never-ending stove fire.
He would gave us money often from his big “veteran warrior” pension, stories were rare.
Often kids just sat there, talking something, he would occasionally say “uhm” or “ahm” and stare in empty.
He did not go out very much, except his regular chess meetings in the local community hall.
It was something like community hall, war veteran organization and heavy drinking joint place in one.
People call it “half leg” because several handicapped folks who were there all the time.
And I was a kid who often went with him there, my grandmother often would tell me “go with him there and wait for him”, I guess she simply was worried for him.
Place was big hall with old tables with games like chess and checkers on them, great uncle would sat down usually with same folks there, his old war comrades.
They would play chess, drink heavy booze and over the time they would usually forgot that I am even there.
In that time I was taught in the school that we are living in great socialistic and communistic society, where all people are equal, and that we got to that point through the heroic and noble fighting of working class in WW2.
War and fights were something noble, heroic and full of sacrifice. Our war vets were ‘clean’; they were people who sacrifice themselves for our motherland – for socialistic society.
I was taught like that, in my young mind all was black and white.
Over the time I realized that folks on that table together with my great uncle had a bit different picture about war and fighting and honor.
They talked about everything, but with heavy slang and in what looked to me in that time in ‘codes’, and lot of “remember the Mora(mountain) and how we eat shoes”? and answer would be “yeah, fuck it, and how many bodies there”
Lot of that was not understandable for me, lot of head nodding,
One of those chess games stayed in my mind over several decades of the time since I heard it on that table:
Man who played chess with my great uncle had a pieces of shell in his body, I think it was not option to remove it so he grow old with that in his body, he had couple of pieces in his arm and fingers, and while he was thinking about his next chess move he would squeeze his fist and fingers and pieces of shell in his fingers were producing the sound like something is chewing inside his hand.
It was fascinating for me in that time.
What I understand from their story was this:
He and my great uncle were find themselves in some heavy fighting during the ww2 .
Their unit was carrying a lot of heavily wounded together with lot of civilians who were running from German forces.
Sudden attack of Germans made chaos and they together with couple of guys got separated from the unit.
They manage to break out from the encirclement, then they hide inside some cave for couple of days.
They ate tree bark.
Days later they went out and wandered through woods trying to go to the safe territory.
And then they stumble members of their unit.
Actually a pile of it.
On one small clear place in the woods, there were hundreds of bodies in a big pile, and man with the “chewing” in his fist said he never before or later saw anything like that.
Soldiers and civilians were shot and put on big pile of bodies in the middle of nowhere, and he said that lot of them were heavily wounded but still alive actually, they were put there intentionally still alive, to suffer more before they die.
They found couple of woman tied to the trees… Dead.
They quickly move away from there, scared.
Later that night while they were resting they heard noises, quietly went to check and find out German soldier sitting down and bandaging wound on his leg, probably lost and separated from his unit.
They killed him with bayonet, and as I understand they killed him slowly.
That story terrified me to the bones, and I think I heard it only because they were pretty drunk and not even realized I was with them.
My great uncle died long time ago, he was heavy drinker too to the last breath.
On his funeral there were flags, and speech about honor and sacrifice, even his medals.
We never found his wartime machine gun “smajser” (mp 40) that he hid somewhere after the war never giving up to no one where it is, and as I am older I feel sorry I did not hear more about his experiences.
I am sure he cared a lot more for that machine gun than for speeches flags and medals.
I do not remember him as an war hero, and I am sure he did not think about himself as an war hero.
He was scared often while he was in survival situation, he often did things that he did not like, he was not invincible, and he was ready for trouble again all the time.
He was a survivalist.
Point of this article is (just like lot of my article) is memory of something, in this case memory of my great uncle.
And there is one more point, for you more important:
Talk with old folks, with veterans, old or young, there is nothing like real life experience.
Be patient, best (or worst) stories are hardest to get, but it is precious knowledge.
It is better prepper investment to hear how (and what) tree bark to eat then to buy 10 MREs.
Many years after my great uncle experiences and events I experienced similar things, hunger, fightings, piles of bodies…
It is in human nature, things like this are happening and will happen again…
I asked you in one of my previous posts what you would like to see or read here on blog and your answers were great, actually I did not expect so many comments and questions.
There are some comments and demands about topics that I already wrote here yes, and there are some new. Since number of questions is huge, I will every now and then, publish one post with my answers and comments on some of your questions.
Some questions will require an entire post alone.
So here are few:
Respectfully, I would ask three questions:
- How did people most often arrive at the decision to give up, and stop surviving?
- How did others (family, group, squad) etc. handle that when became apparent?
- How was it most competently handled by the group when a member did that?
When you are thrown into a survival situation, decision to give up is not so much connected with the lack of food, safety, water, services etc.
Usually it is connected to the realization (of the person who is giving up) of the fact that there is no clear clue when all things will come back to normal (when he again gonna have food, water, security etc.)
When you go days into fighting, starving etc- surviving is a process where you push your body and mind more and more, and if you “look too far into distance” and there is no clear evidences that things will get better – your will can be crushed very easily.
You may conclude that “it is not worth it”, and then that’s it.
I know it is generalization but yes, you need not to look too far and to have high hopes, you just need to operate in your small circles and push day by day.
It was bad thing to see, and it happened, often. Good “cure” for it was that you need to find use or task for that person, you need to bring back a sense of purpose to them.
Easier way was to find job for them -taking care for food, watching for the kids, anything that would make them feel useful.
If member of the group “ gave up” and if the group structure was ‘family’ then usually other members try to give some support or if that failed then just leave him alone in terms of duties and everything, nobody had too much time for psychological help in that days.
If group meant several people “bonded” together by chance or temporary need (no big and strong connections between them) then other, harder, measures were in place.
Thank you once again Selco for showing us that the positive side of humanity is always capable of returning and surviving.
What I have always wanted to really know is; what is it like to be in a SHTF situation when the UN troops are there?
What are the UN troops REALLY like?
How to best act / behave / handle UN troops?
I ask because I have heard both positive and very negative things about UN troops. I simply ask for the truth here.
Thanks Again !!!
You heard good GRA.
UN troops were patched together from the different Army contingents, so there were British contingents, Spanish contingent, Pakistani, Portuguese, Dutch etc.
Looking at the big picture they did horrible job because they were under armed, desperately badly coordinated between different contingents and without clear cause and function and political support.
So in reality we had situation where two opposed local units are in the middle of fight and each unit is around 2000-3000 men strong with tanks and artillery and suddenly there is UN unit moving in with 5 APC’s and 50 men in order to make ceasefire, and of course everybody shoot at them or simply take their stuff and make hostages of them.
They did not have clear tasks, political will behind them and firepower.
On the local level, when it come to individual members of those UN forces, I have seen cases where they simply break the clear orders and attack some guys in order to save civilians.
So there were good people there, but horrible organization behind them.
They did save people, evacuate injured civilians or get shot while they tried to bring food in areas where people starved..
They smuggled food sometimes sell it to us for different kind of things (or services)… All different kind of things, but I like to think lot of people among them were trying to do good stuff.
When it comes to fighting capabilities I remember the British army as a tough guys.
Those were UN forces, they failed to make peace, later came International forces (US led) with clear will and duties and we all here were fed up with slaughtering already, and what was most important with huge amount of force, and by the shear amount of force they succeed to bring peace, it was philosophy of : “who ever keeps firing after this date will be leveled by us”.
And it worked.
How to handle UN troops?
Every “UN troops” deployments are doomed unless they are coming with HUGE amount of force and in great numbers, or they coming into the region where any kind of will for resistance is crushed long time ago.
As an addition to your questions and since I am aware of other comments (and worries) about “UN forces on US soil” I really have to say my opinion- it is kind of fantasy.
Numbers in US, numbers of weapon in US make any kind of “UN troops coming to US to pacify us” simply and clearly impossible.
To “pacify” somebody you need force several times bigger then opponent, and you need it on the ground usually, and you need some kind (to some extent) will to be pacified.
I’d like to hear about how you bartered for things you needed.
What were valuable items for barter? Was the local currency still worth something?
Were foreign currencies used? What about gold or silver jewelry or coins?
How were you able to ensure your safety during barter transactions? What did you do if you found out you had been cheated?
I did write about this topic already, but since it is important topic (and one of the favorite on blogs and with lot of myths too) I will answer it in short.
First and most important is that nothing was pre-set, nothing was constant and that include basic factors like values of items, security of trade, rules of particular trade etc.
As the situation worsened more into the direction of real SHTF situation people started to appreciate (and look for) usable items, and when I say that, I mean items that solve your immediate problems.
So for example if you had precious artistic picture that in normal times is worth around 10 000 Euros you could not do to much with that in terms of trade because simply people did not care for that, they were hungry, wet, cold, dirty, without enough weapons and bullets.
Maybe you could find some war lord who had connections with outside (normal) world and he could maybe give you 20 cans of meat for that art because he know you are starving.
Or in other case he could simply take it from you (and maybe kill you or not) because he is warlord and you are nobody.
Now this is something that can be transferred also in terms of owning precious metals for SHTF.
When SHTF it will worth much less simply because you can not eat it, or you can not shoot from gold coin to someone, yes you can try to buy weapon with gold coins or food (at outrageous price, and with danger of getting killed) but what is the point? Why not store food and weapons in the first place?
Gold and silver jewelry or coins in form of small rings and necklasses as a temporary bribe in some situations works really cool, and as a stash when some kind of society jump back in (when SHTF ends) is good idea too.
But in the middle of SHTF I prefer more usable items.
In my case local currency worked in the beginning stage of SHTF, but it was very short period, then foreign currency jumped in (US dollars and German marks) and as situation worsen prices of things for marks and dollars went up very sharp, and also situations where you could buy something with it become rare-people started to trade.
Ensuring safety during transactions (trade) was problem, but common sense was to never go alone on trades (3 is good number) to trade with known people (returning trades) or to go to trade on confirmed information (you get information about trader from trusted person who already traded with him)
Of course very often you could only go in 3’s, all else was unknown, so you took the risk.
To have rumor (or information) about you that you are bad trader (cheater-you gave bad item to someone) was bad because rumor then goes around and no one want to trade with you.
Also revenges for bad trades were hard and sometimes final.
But for example it was not always about physical punishments, guy cheated me once with some things and I simply “spread” out information on correct places that he mixed plaster and similar things in his wheat (for trade), and soon he was simply “scammer” and nobody wanted to works with him.
By the way it was lie, his stuff was good, but it is an example of how things worked.
I hope these answers help? Let me know in the comments below if anything was of specific use or interest to you…? I’ll be answering more of your questions in future posts!
I wrote my first survival article-comment some 7 years ago, and I still remember why I wrote it, what “pushed” me to sit down and write it so people who read/discuss survival over the internet for years can read my opinion.
I was checking the survival forums to learn something about wilderness survival because I found I missing lot of knowledge there, and then I stumbled upon discussion about what real SHTF looks like and will look like in the future.
And simply there I realize how whole survival movement foundation is messed up, or built on the wrong perception.
It is like digging through a whole bunch of other people good skills and opinions (together with wrong ones of course) but completely misplaced and misguided.
After writing that first article years ago, I am still writing and trying to point out my view of things, and my way is learned through the experience of 4 years of civil war in a destroyed society.
I still do not know lot of things, I do not know how to operate 20 different weapons, I am not ex special forces member, I do not know how to survive in prolonged period in wilderness, and I am still learning lot of things from different kind of people, on internet and forums and in physical courses too.
But I know how I survived SHTF and how real SHTF looks like, and the real problem is that it definitely does not look like majority of preppers imagine it.
Over time, a lot of my articles are telling the story about same thing on different ways, and it might look like I am telling same story over and over, but again, I am writing from real experience and there are good reasons why I am pointing out the same things often.
So please allow me to address again some common misconception about SHTF.
Changing From “Before to Now”
Starting problem about SHTF misconception is that people have problems to imagine something that they are not experienced in, so if you have not experienced collapse of society you will “build” your opinion about it based on many things: other people experiences, books, movies, documentaries…
When you add to this a whole survival industry of selling things for “doomsday” you going to end up forming your opinion about how life in collapse will look like based on some weird things, and as an result your prepping and expectation may be completely wrong.
For example, you have been bombarded with information from internet that if you buy some product you’ll be not only safe when SHTF but also you’ll thrive and you gonna have something like best time of your life in the middle of collapse.
Now when you multiply this with many numbers (products) you end up buying peace of mind for yourself built on fact that someone wants to earn money from your fears.
And it is not biggest problem, real problem waking up one morning in the collapse realizing that you have whole bunch of things that simply do not work for your situation.
I like to use example that I have read long time ago, about transportation in city when SHTF. One guy offer idea of using skateboard in urban SHTF as transport, and lot of other folks commented that is good idea.
On first look it is great idea, no fuel, no cars or buses, so skateboard as a transport means looks good.
Only problem here is that probably man who mentioned it never experienced real urban SHTF so he can not know how useless idea it is.
Or to put it really short:
When SHTF city services will collapse, street are pretty soon simply full of everything, there are other people in the city too, because services are gone there are not enough resources and because of that other people will simply almost always mean possible danger, so point is to avoid people, or to be quiet when moving, so…
You need to stop to think in terms of normal times, you need change your priorities when SHTF, it is a different time.
For example moving fastest (or most comfortable) stops to be priority, new priority is to move safest (or quiet) or you need to stop to think about having coolest things but new priority is to have things that will work for your situation best.
Value Of The Things
Again it is about thinking in new terms, in the terms when SHTF, and those terms are completely different then in normal times.
I have kind of survival philosophy where my goal is to be ready to survive with as least things as possible, and it is like everything else based on my experienced SHTF.
What that means?
By developing and learning skills and techniques I am trying to be less depended on physical things.
In reality that does not mean that when SHTF I will immediately bug out to the wilderness with knife only, no, I too have preps and things, stashes and plans, weapons, meds etc.
It means when times come I am READY to leave all of that, EVERYTHING – all my possessions, and move away in split second if that means I will save my life.
Are you ready for that?
Are you gonna be able to leave all your preps that you were buying for years, all your fancy weapons, stashes of cans etc and run with what you have on you?
Or you gonna die in “blaze of glory” defending simple physical things?
Survival is about resilience, to move on and on, to overcome difficult situations and come back again.
Do not get attached on physical things, no matter how expensive they are, or how fancy they are, or even if people promised that you’ll “survive and thrive” if you own that things when SHTF.
Life is precious, things are just things.
Problem here is that survival movement today is built on the way that preppers are “forced” to believe that they can not survive if the do not own particular survival product, so as an result there is gonna be bunch of preppers get shot because they defending physical things that someone told them they really need to have when SHTF.
I was refugee more then once, I still remember the moment when all my possessions were an old Browning pistol with three rounds, T- shirt, boots (with wet socks inside) and pants that could stand on its own because of how dirty they were…
I have lost all my other physical possessions, everything was torched or taken away, If I stayed my life would be taken away too in a very painful way.
I run, and survived, and fought again for survival.
And you know what? I bought all the things again.
Things can be obtained again, life can not.
Sometimes you just have to move on and forget on physical things that are dear to you.
One of the topics that I’m most reluctant to discuss about because I find it really personal, but it is there, it is important, so some things need to be considered.
And I’ll be short here, because it is personal for me, and every one of you should think about it for itself.
Yes, there were times when I simply had to reach deep in myself and connect to something higher, to find some sense, to have faith in order to not lost my mind or kill myself because everything was falling apart around me.
So faith is important, or spirituality, or some kind of moral values-call it as you like.
You need to have something!
But problem here is that people often think if they are good folks by the nature, everybody else is good by default (until proven otherwise?).
Through my experience I adopt opinion that everybody is bad until proven different (even if I am good guy)
Or let me put it like this, in really bad times, when everything going to s…t you ll see more bad folks then good folks, so be prepared for that…