Ordinarily we dont associate one of the worlds most delicious desserts with one of the worlds most deadly military machines. However, in this age of massive information technology, producers are almost frantic for new ideas.
Waffen SS Strawberry Shortcake is not actually a new idea. It was originally devised by Heinrich Himmler the man who operationalized the concept of the SS (known in German as the Schutzstaffel, or protection squad) for his fuehrer, Adolph Hitler, in the 1930s. In German, waffen means armed or militarized, but we are not talking here about armed or militarized strawberry shortcake, only about the dessert itself. In the turmoil during and after WWII, the recipe was somehow misplaced. Fortunately, I recently rediscovered it, in the back of an old cookbook in my fathers library.
My father was not a Nazi. During the Second World War, he was a proud member of the Royal Canadian Air Force, and served as paymaster on an air base in Goose Bay, Labrador. In any case, the recipe for Waffen SS Strawberry Shortcake has resurfaced, and hopefully, will soon be appearing on television and home computer screens throughout the global information society.
Confusion sometimes arises because Heinrich Himmler shares the same initials, HH, as those of a famous American publisher, Hugh Hefner. While they enjoy common initials, the two gentlemen are in fact quite different.
Besides designing the center-fold concept for presenting buxom young women in various stages of undress to an audience of appreciative young males, Hef, as he prefers to be called, not Hugh, not Heinrich, Mr. Hefner, Herr Himmler, or Herr Hefner, but Hef, simply Hef, is also known for working out the general principles of the Playboy Philosophy.
Besides designing the cyanide shower and the gas oven for conducting industrial mass murder, Reichsfuehrer Himmler, as he preferred to be called, not Heinrich, not Hugh, Herr Himmler, Mr. Hefner, or Mr.Himmler, but Reichsfuehrer Himmler, simply Reichsfuehrer Himmler, is also known for working out the general strategy for eliminating every Jew, Gypsy and impure minority from the continent of Europe. Also the Waffen SS Strawberry Shortcake, but more about that in a moment.
Apart from refuelling warplanes on their way to Europe, there was little for the airmen to do in Goose Bay. Bored and deprived of alcohol, some of the airmen foolishly drank typewriter fluid. Those airmen who werent drinking typewriter fluid, passed the time polar bear watching and making strawberry shortcake. Drinking typewriter fluid can cause blindness. Consequently, whenever my father noticed airmen stumbling and groping about on Saturday night, he knew when he arrived at his office Monday morning, the typewriters would probably not be working.
After many years of relatively quiet sexual activity, Hugh Hefner suddenly erupted like a magnitude 7.6 volcano in June of 1998, reawakened by the sexual wonder drug Viagra. Sales of Viagra skyrocketed after word leaked out that the aged wonder was simultaneously servicing three buxom young blondes. Viagra wouldnt have helped Reichsfuehrer Himmler, who committed suicide in 1945. Nor the Goose Bay airmen, who were already highly aroused, and didnt need something like Viagra to remind them that the two main outlets for their libidinal energy were drinking typewriter fluid and finding new recipes for strawberry shortcake (and also polar bear watching ).
When Hitler invaded the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941, Waffen SS, together with regular German forces, advanced rapidly. During the summer and fall the armies plunged deep into the heart of the Soviet Union. Schutzstaffel spirits soared as victory followed victory, and Einsatzgruppen (special task forces) organized by Reichsfuehrer Himmler, followed behind liquidating thousands of Jews, Gypsies, Communists, priests, aristocrats and professionals. Waffen SS divisions promptly gained an outstanding reputation for their sterling fighting qualities. Besides being recognized as the Reichs finest ground units, Waffen SS divisions would also gain an outstanding reputation for their sterling strawberry shortcake, but more about that in a moment.
America in the 1950s was a natural recruiting ground for Hef and his Playboy Empire. Alienated and disillusioned by the lack of full frontal nudity in major mens magazines, many of Americas most aroused young men jumped at the opportunity to see the bare breasts and naked buttocks offered them by the brilliant young publisher (pubic hair came later). By the same token, Germany in the 1930s was a natural recruiting ground for Reichsfuehrer Himmler and his Waffen SS. Alienated and disillusioned by the economic, political and moral breakdown of German society, many of the nations most outstanding gentry and professionals, jumped at the chance to join a fanatical, highly disciplined organization offered them by the brilliant young Nazi.
The foundation of a first-rate strawberry shortcake is the sponge cake, which should be light and tasty, but at the same time strong and absorbent, capable of soaking up large amounts of strawberry juice, yet still providing a solid platform for piles of berries, and mountains of whipped cream. The foundation of the Waffen SS was its organizational structure, which was lean and flexible, but at the same time loyal and efficient, capable of soaking up large amounts of expropriated resources, yet still providing a solid platform for territorial expansion and genocidal purification.
But then disaster struck. As snow started falling and the ground began to freeze, the German advance slid to a halt. Temperatures plunged to minus 40 degrees Centigrade. Santa Claus could not bring SS stormtroopers their customary Christmas fruitcakes. Spirits fell and minds became confused. Realizing the danger, Reichsfuehrer Hefner, or rather Reichsfuehrer Himmler, swung into action.
Although he was the introverted grandson of a Bavarian police administrator, and the repressed son of an authoritarian school principal, his childhood still had its lighter moments. Faced by the impending disaster in the snow and ice of central Russia, Reichsfuehrer Himmlers mind swung back to those happy times when his devoted mother had made his favorite strawberry shortcake. Of course, plump juicy alpine strawberries and rich Bavarian farm cream, would not be available in the frozen wastes of the Eastern Front. However, the Reichsfuehrer knew that with a bit of German ingenuity he could come up with something almost as delicious.
During the Great Depression of the 1930s, Canadian Pacific Railway dining cars listed strawberries on their menus, but the strawberries were in fact canned prunes. Reichsfuehrer Himmler had learned about the CPR strawberries from a cousin who had once spent a summer in Canada, selling sandwiches on CPR passenger trains traveling across northern Ontario.
Armed with this information, Reichsfuehrer Himmler quickly cobbled together a recipe for strawberry shortcake, and ordered that it be promptly prepared in mess kitchens throughout the occupied territories. This vital and highly secret mission was assigned the code name Operation Provide Strawberry Shortcake by the wily Reichsfuehrer. At first this title confused Allied code breakers who took it to be a cryptogram for some kind of secret weapon, or a surprise attack being cooked up by the Germans.
In place of fresh strawberries, SS chefs were instructed to substitute canned prunes, which were being rushed to the front, even as they read the Reichsfuhrers orders. Wherever sponge cake was unavailable, good old German pound cake. Whipping cream was more difficult. Stalin had ordered the removal or destruction of every dairy cow in the conquered territories, as part of his scorched earth policy. All that was available was powdered milk, which required hours of beating and whipping before providing the same robust consistency as the rich farm creams of Bavaria and Schleshwick-Holstein.
In the end, the whipping cream turned out to be much less problematic than first feared. Reichsfuehrer Himmler knew the SS held thousands of prisoners just sitting around awaiting torture or execution at the hands of the Einsatzgruppen. Rather than waste such valuable manpower, therefore, Reichsfuhrer Himmler ordered that they be put to work beating and whipping the powdered milk into a professional quality dessert topping.
Waffen SS spirits soared immediately they started digging into their new dessert. Not only did the confection provide a psychological lift to the freezing stormtroopers, but the addition of canned prunes to their diet greatly improved bowel functions, severely constipated by the combination of cold and battle fatigue.
Of course such a strategic break-through could not remain secret for long. By deftly piecing together scraps of information from intercepted radio signals, German prisoners, and undercover operatives, Allied intelligence soon learned the details of Operation Provide Strawberry Shortcake. A massive bombing raid on Hitlers main prune factory, located in the heavily industrialized Rhur Valley, quickly denied Waffen SS forces their supply of ersatz strawberries. Henceforth, they were never the same, and were eventually routed at Stalingrad.
In the meantime, Allied commanders, supplied with the new secret recipe, were able to greatly increase the morale and significantly improve the defecation habits of their own troops. As an essentially winter-type apparatus, the recipe had to be slightly modified when employed in desert or maritime theaters. Then too, the technique for producing the whipped cream topping, also had to be changed. By the time the recipe for making Waffen SS Strawberry Shortcake reached my fathers hands in Goose Bay, the topping instructions simply stated: Open a can of condensed milk and beat vigorously for 7 minutes.