Seventy years ago, a young private named Nikolai Richthofen could not stand the horrors of World War Two. So, during battle, he hung himself from a tree in the Grunewald Forest in Berlin, Germany. Legend says he haunts the forest, killing any veterans of World War Two. Forty-five veterans have entered those woods...and only seventeen have come out.
But I’m going to focus on three particular men that were killed in 1953. First, there's James Rockfield. James was a 29-year-old thin Caucasian man with blonde hair and blue eyes. He was about six feet and two inches tall, and came from New York.
Next, Richard Franklin. Richard had slicked, black hair, and was about six feet and four inches tall. He was 32 years old and resided in Ohio.
Finally, there's John Lowell. John was the youngest of them - 27 years old, with brown hair, blue eyes, and a 6' stature. He was born in Kentucky.
These three men were all veterans of World War Two, and decided to take a trip to Berlin to look at the monuments and such of WWII. As soon as they arrived, they heard about the woods from several people and wanted to see what it was all about.
“Grunewald forest, huh?" Richard said intriguingly. "Let’s go see what’s what up there."
“I don't think it's such a good idea,” John said quietly.
“Come on, John, have some adventure in your life,” James jokingly said.
“Did you just tell a war veteran to have some adventure in their life?” John replied.
“Would you two get off it?” Richard demanded. “We are going to at least see what this 'legend' is.”
The three men walked to the gates. Just as they set their feet on the damp, leaf-covered path to certain doom, a man stopped them.
“Ich bin erschrocken, dass Sie eine Verzichtserklärung unterzeichnen müssen, bevor Sie dorthin hineingehen.” The man spoke so quickly. They all paused as the man pulled out a book, and slowly mumbled. “I have a fright that you have to sign a waiver before you go in there.”
“What for?” James asked.
“You’ve heard of the legend, I hope,” the man said clearly.
“What? The one about Nikolai?” James responded.
“Yes, he will kill - or at least hurt - any veterans that go in there, and if you would just sign this waiver stating that the town of Berlin, Germany is not responsible for any distress that may happen to you in those woods, you can continue into the woods.” The man distributed this with perfect English, as if he’d spoken it hundreds of times.
“Come on, let’s sign it,” James demanded. “Let's please these scumbag Germans.”
As they walked down the path, I think every one of them regretted that first step. The woods grew closer, and shadows were moving about. They shook it off as nothing, but soon it went from day to night.
“We should turn back,” John mumbled to James.
“I think you're right, how 'bout it, Richard…Richard?” Richard was nowhere to be found.
“RICHARD!” James screamed. It grew silent for a moment, until there was rustling in the leaves.
“Richard? Is that you?” John slowly moved towards the noise. "JAMES! I found him!”
He was face-down in the leaves, so they turned his body around. His eyes had been gouged out, and his face mauled. They screamed and immediately dropped the lifeless corpse.
“What the… what’s going on here??” James stuttered. Then suddenly, the dark, quiet woods were engulfed with laughter, followed by the words, “Ihr werdet alle sterben!”
Then everything stopped, and the forest was quiet once again.
“What was that?” John screamed.
“I don’t know, but I’m not going to stick around and find out!” James said, backing up. They started running through the forest aimlessly, until they came upon an old bunker.
“We’ll stay here tonight,” James said. The two friends walked to the bunker, to turn in for the night. The next morning, James woke up and yawned and stretched, but didn’t open his eyes just yet. Last night was just a dream, he thought to himself. He opened his eyes...and realized this wasn’t a dream. It was more real than ever. John was gone.
“John? John, where…where are you?” James stuttered. “Please…please don’t leave me here, all by myself!”
James started to cry, until he noticed the machine gun slit in the bunker.
“Oh God, no.”
John was hanging from a tree. Tears began to stream down James’ face.
“Just kill me... Kill me now!”
James stood up and ran outside, turning the corner. Lights. Someone was looking for him.
“Hey! Over here! Over here, I’m over here!” James screamed, but he realized he wasn’t saying anything the whole time… He was thinking the words.
He touched his face where his mouth should have been, but there was only skin. He went and found glass from a mirror in the bunker. His face had two eyes and a nose...but no mouth. He had no mouth!
All hope was lost. He sat there and waited for his demise, but it never came. He roams the woods to this day, looking for Nikolai. Both Richard and John were found six months later, hanging on trees with their fatigues on and a message in their pocket translated that says:
“I have done a service to these men, and put them out of their misery.” It was signed by Nikolai Richotofen.
The bunker was also found. Inside was a poem, written in blood, which read, “Drei Männer kamen, um zu spielen und spazierten durch den ganzen Tag. Als der Wald dunkel wurde das Gespenst hatte bereits seine Spuren hinterlassen. Zwei Männer einen Platz gefunden und die zweite hatte eine im Raum aufgehängt Ein Mann bleibt an diesem Tag treffen ihn an der Bucht.”
This was translated by authorities. It means:
"Three men came out to play,
And wandered around throughout the day.
Before the forest grew dark,
The ghost had already made his mark.
Two men found a place,
and one was hung in space.
One man remains to this day.
Meet him down by the bay."
The authorities found James hanging from a light post by the bay. He, too, was in his fatigues, but there was a different message.
Three men came out to play...and didn’t see the light of day.
Written by Dankeykang