(quote) Jan-805954 said:
Marianne - My dad was a prisoner at Stalag III from 1944 - 1945. He was shot down in his P-38 over Paris and injured his back when he bailed out. He landed in a field outside of Paris and was held for the Germans by a French farmer who kept him down with a pitch fork. After 30 days of solitary confinement and interrogation (no medical care) he was transported to Germany. On the way to Germany, he was riding in a "jeep" with an officer and a driver. The officer ordered the driver to stop by the side of the road. As the officer got out of the jeep, my dad saw him pull out his pistol. May dad thought he was going to be executed. But, the officer stood behind my dad with the gun to his head and then shot into the side of the road. The officer got back in the jeep and they resumed the trip. Dad was instrumental in helping with the digging of the tunnels. He was also there when the escapees were caught and shot immediately. I believe those shot were British and Polish.
Stalag III was for Air Force members and run by the Luftwaffe, so incredibly they were treated better than other prisoners "bond among brothers?". My dad rarely talked about his imprisonment but as he grew older he told my family many of the stories, particularly about the digging of the tunnels and treatment by the Germans. The best story is about his liberation on April 29, 1945.
I have wanted to go visit the site. It is now in Poland (division after the war) and I believe it is a historical site. There is a group of kriege kinder (war kids) who visit the site and who often make the "march" that killed many of the prisoners. I've wanted to hook up with this group but can't find any contact information online. If anyone know how to contact them I would appreciate a message.
Jan: Thank you so much for posting that story about your Dad. I can hardly
read about what happened to those people who were forced to march on
those brutal trips. I found the below phone number about a soldier who
helped write about the death marches. He may know something about the
children of the war victims who make the march, if he is still alive. It was
from 1999. Good luck to you and I would be interested in knowing what
you find out.
"Though often overlooked by history, the death march across Germany ranks as one of the most outrageous cruelties ever committed against American fighting men. Fittingly, a memorial to these soldiers now stands on the Polish ground where Stalag Luft IV once stood.
GARY TURBAK, 1999. Gary is a free-lance writer based in Montana. This article is posted with written permission from Turbak.
Editor's Note: Joe O'Donnell, a vet of the German death march and consultant for "Death March Across Germany", has compiled and self-published five volumes about Stalag Luft IV and the death march. For information, contact O'Donnell at 609-585-1346.
Also, thank you to Karl Haeuser of Cayucos, Calif., for bringing this long neglected story to our attention."