Greetings to our Stalag Luft III Family and Friends,
Wishing everyone a pleasant Spring which seems so long overdue. We would like to update all of you on a few items of interest since our last newsletter.
- Many Thanks! – For those of you who donated to the fund for the Stalag Luft III museum, all the names of the POWs you sponsored have been sent, and the plaque is being created. Your generosity (almost $12,000) resulted in a donation to the Museum in Zagan, Poland and the Museum is creating a plaque recognizing over 50 additional POWs beyond your immediate family members you specifically named to be sponsored. This kind of response is just another example of what makes our Stalag Luft III family so special and unique. We will post pictures of the plaque when it is finished. The donations are already being used to enhance and update Museum exhibits. THANKS AGAIN FOR YOUR GENEROSITY! We are also arranging for a much-deserved special plaque for the late Art Durand, who will always remain in the hearts of the Stalag Luft III community. We are also creating a special recognition at the museum in Zagan, Poland for Arnold Wright whose compound histories have been such a special piece of maintaining the history of Stalag Luft III. For all our donors, as well as our POW attendees at the last reunion, we recently sent them a Stalag Luft III POW embroidered patch as a small expression of appreciation. If there are any other ex-POWs, including those who were not at the last reunion, who would like a patch, please contact one of us. We only have a few left so we would like to provide them to ex-POWs.
- With Deep Sorrow – For those of you who have not heard, we have lost one more dear friend, Doolittle Raider Tom Griffin, whom so many of you enjoyed meeting at the reunion. Tom passed away on Feb. 26that the age of 96. Over 2000 people turned out for his memorial in Cincinnati, including some of the Patriot Guard who came to our reunion. There was also a B-25 fly over. We extend to the Griffin family our condolences for the loss of such a wonderful father, hero and patriot. On display at his memorial were many of his WWII related memorabilia, including the Stalag Luft III POW patch that we had sent Tom earlier this year as an ex-POW. See Tom’s picture below:
- The Good Ambassador– Catching up with Ambassador John Dolibois from the reunion, we find that he is still going strong at 94 as a prized speaker to a variety of groups. Rather than accepting a speaking fee, the good ambassador is donating what he would have received to Honor Flight, and so far he has sponsored six WWII veterans to visit the memorial in Washington, DC. His picture is below. Many thanks John!
- We Won!– Speaking of the April 2012 reunion, we heard this week that we won an award from the Dayton Visitor’s Bureau. Along with a few others of the hundreds nominated, we won a 2013 Community Ambassador Award to be awarded at a gathering of over 200 hospitality and travel executives and Ohio political representatives. The story of the reunion and of our POWs will be featured at that award ceremony in May. Our reunion’s success was due to the phenomenal attendance of our POWs, families and friends and our outstanding speakers.
CONGRATULATIONS YOU’RE A WINNER!!
2013 Community Ambassador Award Recipient
The Dayton/Montgomery County Convention & Visitors Bureau is extremely pleased to recognize you as an esteemed Community Ambassador Award Recipient. You will soon join the ranks of approximately 150 other winners chosen annually since the award’s inception in 1992. Honorees are recognized for the significant impact and contributions their event generated in the Dayton/Montgomery County community in 2012.
- Elusive Luftwaffe Fighter Ace Found –In researching the Lost Airmen of Buchenwald, there was a puzzling bit of information that no one was been able to find. For over seven years, Marilyn Walton has been trying to find the name of the Luftwaffe Officer who came into Buchenwald to arrange for the release of the 168 Allied airmen being held there. Researchers around the world have all tried to find the name of the man and his picture. All we knew is that the man was tall, highly-decorated, and wore an Iron Cross the day he went into the camp. No one could find any German documentation about him, and the Luftwaffe Pilots Association could not determine who the man was. Some of you may have seen the information online about B-17 Charlie Brown reuniting with Franz Stigler, a German fighter ace, after sixty years. Stigler flew on Charlie’s wing, after the B-17 had been badly shot up, escorting him to the North Sea for safe passage home. There is talk of a movie about this incident. The book, A Higher Call, by Adam Makos, has been written about it. As Marilyn finished the book recently, in a section on the German fighter aces, she was stunned to read of Hannes Trautloft, one of Germany’s top fighter aces and his account of……..going to Buchenwald only to find 168 Allied airmen there! Everything fit–tall, highly-decorated, and wearing the Iron Cross. His story in the book verified that he was, indeed, that elusive German pilot so many have been looking for. Marilyn sent his name and picture to our “Buchenwald Boys,” and now after 69 years, they can look on the face of the man who arranged for their release from Buchenwald concentration camp just four days before they were scheduled to be executed. Read more about him in the link below:
- Tour of SLIII and Colditz – English author, journalist, and WWII historian, Guy Walters, has written a new book called, The Real Great Escape. In communications with him, he has told us that he also leads Stalag Luft III tours and is planning a trip back to Stalag Luft III and to Colditz Castle, Oflag IV-C, the impregnable punishment camp for escaping POWs. It is scheduled for next July. You might think of contacting Guy when making your next trip.
- German Dog Tag – Checking in with our good friend Marek Lazarz, Stalag Luft III Museum Director, he tells us that Mirek Walczak from the reunionhas just found a German dog tag on the grounds of the camp. This rare find will go on display in the museum. See picture below:
- Sketches Presented– Susan Kohnowich will present her father, Carl Holmstrom’s, sketches of Stalag Luft III at the museum in Zagan on the anniversary of the Great Escape, just days from now. Next year will be a large commemoration of the Great Escape, for the 50th anniversary, and there is a rumor Prince Harry could attend to take a look at Tunnel Harry and to remember those who died. Thanks to Susan for all her hard work in making these priceless sketches available.
- The Kommandant and the Sergeant- In a continuing effort to learn more about Stalag Luft III history, Mike Eberhardt has recently been in contact with relatives and descendants of Stalag Luft III Kommandant Friederich Wilhelm von Lindeiner. In addition, efforts are underway to determine if the daughter of Sgt. Hermann Glemnitz is still alive. Many of you know that both the Kommandant, as well as Luftwaffe Sgt. Glemnitz and his daughter (Gerta), developed and maintained cordial relationships after the war with senior American POWs, including visits to POW reunions.
- Puzzle– Finally, we’d like to end with a puzzle. This is a multiple choice. It is very difficult! There were many important people in Stalag VIIA, in Moosburg, on Liberation Day, April, 29th, 1945. One has recently been found in a picture taken that day. Look at the picture below and find the arrow on the forefront left edge of the picture. Is this:
- Gen. Patton?
- Winston Churchill?
- Tuskegee Airman Alex Jefferson?
Anyone with the correct answer is eligible to receive a bottle of historian Arnold Wright’s delicious and rare home-bottled Muscadine wine. (Arnold: YOU HAD BETTER START A NEW BATCH!!) See picture below:
If anyone would like to submit news to us to see included in these occasional newsletters, please submit to either of us.
Marilyn Walton Mike Eberhardt
Daughter of POW Thomas F. Jeffers Son of POW Charles M. Eberhardt