FOR Hein Severloh the â€˜Longest Dayâ€™ meant nine hours constantly machine-gunning American soldiers as they attempted to land on Omaha Beach.
One image still brings tears to his eyes. A young American had run from his landing craft and sought cover behind a concrete block. Severloh, then a young lance-corporal in the German army in Normandy, aimed his rifle at the GI. He fired and hit the enemy square in the forehead. The Americanâ€™s helmet flew away and rolled into the sea, his chin sank to his chest and he collapsed dead on the beach.
Tormented by the memory, Severloh now weeps at the thought of the unknown soldierâ€™s death.
Severloh was safe in an almost impregnable concrete bunker overlooking the beach. He had an unimpeded view of the oncoming Allied forces. He was the last German soldier firing, and may have accounted for about 3,000 American casualties, almost three-quarters of all the US losses at Omaha. The Americans came to know him as the Beast of Omaha.