Walter Panknin (1898 – 1977) and His Family Ch 5 Part 4

Harrassing Interogations

Mutti and Little Walter Junior

The Soviet authorities must have known Papa’s background well before they even summoned him to appear for the lengthy interrogations. They mostly took place in the late evening hours. Believing him to be a solid antifascist, they decided to apply the soft treatment on him. Papa was fortunate not to undergo any physical pain or even torture. But the psychological burden weighed heavily on his heart and mind. He never knew what to expect and when he had to show up for the round of these nerve-wracking sessions.

Worst of all, his source of income as a dental technician hung in the balance. For without clearance from the Soviet secret service, he would not be able to work. During one of those evening sessions, the Russian officers took on a very conciliatory approach. They told him that his antifascist background would make him appear in a favourable light. All that Papa would have to do was provide them with names of former Nazi officers in the German army. Indeed, Mr. Panknin would know which ones had displayed through their actions and voiced opinions a pro-Nazi disposition. Ratting on people, however, Walter Panknin was not willing to do.

He courageously replied, “I met so many police force officers and of the German army. But I cannot remember any of these with pro-Nazi leanings.”

“In that case, we will have to keep you here for the night. Perhaps that will help refresh your memory to come up with a list of names in the morning,” was their response via the interpreter.

“But sirs (Meine Herren),” Papa protested, “I haven’t eaten supper yet”.

Upon hearing this somewhat naive statement, the Russian security officers broke out into roaring fits of laughter. For the longest time, Papa could not figure out the cause of their merriment. Somehow Captain Panknin’s remark about not having eaten yet broke the ice. The committee decided to let him go home and stop the interrogations of this honourable gentleman. No doubt, they continued to keep a close watch on my father-in-law. Shortly after, Papa began his employment as a dental technician.


  1. Amy · 8 Days Ago

    Wow, that laughter could have gone in a whole other direction. As I was reading it, I imagined they were going to mock him and taunt him and not let him go. He was lucky!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Stella, oh, Stella · 8 Days Ago

    His integrity saved him there, I think, and a bit of luck with the mood of the Russian interrogators.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ankur Mithal · 7 Days Ago

    That was a lucky break. Just when we thought he was up against it. I suppose honesty has its merits 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Steve Schwartzman · 7 Days Ago

    The Nazis and the Communists were both depraved, and both caused the deaths of millions of people.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I guess Papa’s humorous honesty , about not have had supper , turned the situation in entire different direction.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ann Coleman · 6 Days Ago

    What a fortunate response! You never know how things will go, but your father-in-law’s honesty seemed to save the day.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. kopfundgestalt · 2 Days Ago

    Ein guter Witz zur rechten Zeit!

    Liked by 1 person

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