The trousers Hitler was wearing when the bomb exploded. Image credit.
The toughest fight in my life? It took place in 1973. I was 14, a judoka at an early age, by now brawls were getting rarer in my life. At the time, I was attending boarding school in St. Blasien. One weekend, my age group went on a retreat in some remote place in the Black Forest, staying in rustic cabins and being half entertained, half challenged by a mixture of games, religious instruction, and outdoor activities.
One of the games we played was of a martial nature, culminating in a wresting battle between my age group and the boys of the next higher age group.
I found myself fighting a guy easily a head taller than myself. A swift winner, I was not used to extended fights. But this guy was skilled and unusually ferocious, marshaling energies absolutely disproportionate to his wiry body. The fight went on and on and on, becoming increasingly painful owing to mounting fatigue and the savagery of two fighters incapable of conceding defeat.
Eventually the fight petered out with no clear winner - which deeply shamed us. We parted without feeling respect for one another. For the rest of the weekend, we remained distrustful of each other, perhaps contemplating a renewed confrontation, and mostly grappling with the tremendous disappointment not to have won.
It did not mean much to me at the time -- today, however, it makes me more ponderous to think that I fought the grandson of the man who tried to kill Adolf Hitler: Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg. Writes my opponent's father:
"It was actually the next day that my mother took me and my brother aside and told me that it was our father who'd laid the bomb. I said 'How, could he do it?' And she said, 'He believed he had to do this for Germany.'"
"It was a total shock, I couldn't believe it. An attack on the Fuhrer! We were brought up in school and everywhere else, to believe that the Fuhrer was a wonderful man."
Read a fuller account of the attempted assassination here.
See also Alma Mater St. Blasien.