Prisoners of War and Friends and Families of Stalag Luft III:
Many of you recently attended the Stalag Luft III Reunion in Dayton, Ohio, where 40 former POWs were in attendance. Their stories and experiences evoked wonderful memories and emotions for all, including those in attendance whose POW fathers and relatives have passed away. Those memories and emotions deserve preservation, and the museum at Stalag Luft III is the perfect repository for such preservation.
Remarkably, the small city of Zagan, Poland, supplies only very modest funding to operate the museum. No American funding is provided, despite the fact that almost 75% of the POWs at Stalag Luft III were Americans. It is a great credit to the citizens of Zagan that this small, Polish city valiantly attempts to fund the museum that honors our fathers. The fact is that the city’s economy is presently suffering, and other local and immediate needs of Polish citizens there have limited what the city can do for the museum.
The museum’s exhibit room has not been thoroughly updated in decades. This non-descript, formerly Communist building houses what artifacts the museum has been able to collect, but they are not in well-designed, properly-lighted, display cases. The museum’s application last year to a Cultural Affairs Council for $22,000 to renovate the exhibit room lost narrowly to other competing grants from other Polish organizations.
What better way to honor and preserve our fathers’ memories than to assist the museum as best we can. Let’s raise the $22,000 needed by the museum. The museum director has agreed to erect a permanent plaque in the exhibit room with the names of each POW on whose behalf a donation is made. All contributions are obviously welcome, but we would request that a minimum donation of $100 be made. If you can afford more, please consider a greater amount.
Even better—we have a donor who will match each $100 or greater contribution up to $5,000.
All of us provide donations each year to various personal and important charities and beneficial organizations. This museum represents a place that is very personal to those who were POWs at Stalag Luft III and to their families. Please help the museum and in the process honor your POW father or relative.
We are still in the process of trying to establish the most effective way of collecting donations, pooling them, and then transferring the total to Poland. We will likely need the assistance of a prominent Polish American Foundation in New York, which is trying to work out the arrangements. As soon as we have further instructions as to where you can send your donation, we will send you another e-mail. In the meantime, we would like to advise the foundation of the seriousness of our purpose and give them some indication of the total we would expect to raise. Accordingly, if you could, please respond to this email with an indication of the amount you would consider donating. Please respond even if you have previously communicated such to Marilyn Walton or Mike Eberhardt.
A few other notes:
- For those of you who requested a copy of any of the books by Arnold Wright listing POWs in the various compounds, please send Mike Eberhardt an e-mail reminder at Mikeceber@sbcglobal.netwith your address and identification of the compound book you want. The estimated cost of each book will be whatever the reproduction costs are, which will be between $20 and $35, since there is some variation in the number of pages among the books. Mike will ship it to you with a bill.
- For those of you who indicated interest in obtaining the DVD about Mis X, featuring Art Durand and Gen. Alert Clark, Marilyn has been in touch with the producer of that DVD, and he contacted National Geographic to see if sales would be possible. National Geographic stated they have no plans to sell any copies of the DVD. It is possible that the producer would make copies, but no more than 50. Please send Marilyn a reminder of your wish to obtain a copy if possible. (email@example.com) Based on the number of interested buyers, Marilyn will get back to you with a price. It is quite an exceptional production.
- There has been some consideration regarding the need for a new Stalag Luft III website. After further discussion with Marek Lazarz, the museum director from Zagan, he has decided that, as part of his revision to the current museum website, he will incorporate many new features. These features will include a chat room or forum that will allow anyone searching for information to post an inquiry and obtain needed information. Other new website features will provide a list of books and publications written about Stalag Luft III, a list of available DVDs, upcoming events, links to other related websites, etc. The revised website should be ready by July 1. That website has a very long address but is easy to find, just Google “Stalag Luft III Serwis Muzeum”. The updated version should be accessible in July, 2012.
- Photos from the recent reunion in Dayton are available by going to Facebook and typing in “Great Escape Stalag III.”
- For those wishing to obtain the “Behind the Wire” video shown at the gala dinner, the 8thA.F. Historical Society now has it for sale on their website. http://www.8thafhs.org/WebStore.htm
“Behind the Wire” – Review By: Chip Dobson, Wing Commander and Vice President–South Alabama
“Behind the Wire” is the latest DVD release in the series by the 8th Air Force Historical Society. This first-class documentary contains factual, well-researched narration and photographs interspersed with engaging interviews of former Prisoners of War. It is a very interesting examination of life as an Allied Airman being held as a POW in Germany. Vivid descriptions of the shoot down of their aircraft and the circumstances of their capture are recalled by both American and British airmen. Some relate having seen their crew members captured and killed by enraged civilians. Others were saved at the last minute by Luftwaffe personnel. Still, other more fortunate airmen relate stories of successful escape, evasion and their eventual return to England. Those who were captured recount deplorable living conditions, deprivation and atrocities.
For those interred in numerous camps across Germany, escape was always on their mind. Several Kriegies give detailed information about the people and planning involved in escapes, most notably, The Great Escape from Stalag Luft III. There is emotional testimony to the mass evacuations of several camps just ahead of the Russian advance in the East. Thousands endured severe cold, starvation and exhaustion during forced marches to new camps. The stress, anxiety and depression overwhelmed many POWs and some who survived bore both the emotional and physical scars for the rest of their lives. This powerful documentary should be seen by anyone interested in WWII air war.
Those not ordering from the 8th Air Force website can alternatively order from: 8thAFHS, P.O. Box 956, Pooler, GA 31322 – $20 each for 8thAFHS Members – Non Members $30 each, which includes shipping and handling.
- Sadly, as some of you may know, Art Durand passed away May 10th, shortly after the Dayton reunion concluded. He will be sorely missed. A contribution will be made in his name to the museum in Zagan, Poland, and his name will be on the same commemorative plaque as the rest of our donors to the museum.
Marilyn Walton, daughter of POW #6128 – Thomas F. Jeffers
Michael Eberhardt, son of POW #3641 – Charles M. Eberhardt