By Alan Davidge In the early hours of June 6, 1944, a 20-year-old German soldier hurried to his post at Wiederstandsnest 62 (WN62) overlooking Omaha Beach to man his MG 42 machine gun. Tossed around in the English Channel in front of him were over 34,000 American troops waiting for their chance to land on that beach and earn their place in history. Thanks to Cornelius Ryan, this date will always be remembered as “the longest day,” but for many of these young troops, it was to become the shortest day of their lives. For Heinrich “Hein” Severloh, son of a farmer from Baden-Württemburg who had never fired a shot in anger, it was the day he became “The Beast of Omaha.” This is an account of how he conducted himself for nine hours on that day and how he lived with the consequences of his actions for the next 60 years. “Hein, it’s starting!” The voice of his lieutenant, Bernhard Frerking, woke Private Severloh from his slumbers in a small French farmhouse a few kilometers inland from the coast. Everyone from the 352nd Infantry Division had been expecting something to happen for weeks and knew how to respond. Field Marshal Rommel had always said that when the inevitable invasion occurred, the enemy had to be repulsed within 24 hours or the war would be lost. At this moment, however, Rommel was on the other side of Normandy celebrating his wife’s birthday, and the Führer was enjoying a night’s sleep that nobody dared to disturb. WN 62 was t


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