Greetings to all,
We hope this finds of all of you experiencing some more favorable weather as we move into spring. We would like to update you on Stalag Luft III and related research.
Censors- We have uncovered some interesting old photographs from the daughters of two of the female civilian censors at Stalag Luft III and some post-WWII correspondence between them and Camp Kommandant von Lindeiner. We plan to use these materials in a book we will be co-publishing later this year. See Item #4 below.
Recovery of Lt. Sconiers Update- With the support of many of you, an archeologist was sent to Lubin, Poland, just outside of Zagan, to the cemetery where Lt. Ewart T. Sconiers was buried in 1944. As you might recall, this municipal cemetery was converted to a public park during the Russian occupation of that area after the war. When that occurred all markers of graves were removed, making it very difficult to find the exact grave of Sconiers. An international effort to collect data, review old records, even POW memoirs, to re-construct the burial contributed to continuing efforts to bring Lt. Sconiers home. He is the only Stalag Luft III POW that is still buried in Poland. The final push was to have the cemetery surveyed by an expert, and we found one in Dr. Jarrod Burks at Ohio Valley Archeology, Inc. We can’t say enough about his dedicated effort and the international shipper, DHL, which flew his costly equipment over at no charge from Ohio to Poland. Jarrod worked for days at the cemetery sending back some fascinating pictures to us as he worked. On a recent trip to Hawaii, where JPAC (Joint Prisoner of War Missing in Action Accounting Command) is located, Dr. Burks presented his findings. They were very impressed with what they saw, and a second recovery attempt looks likely for 2014 fiscal year. If remains are found, they will be flown to Hawaii for DNA identification before re-burial in Florida beside Sconiers’ mother. We will continue to pass along progress as we learn it.
Geo-phyical data – Courtesy of Dr.Jarrod Burks
Aerial view of cemetery – Courtesy of Szymon Serwatka
Great Escape Researchers– There is currently a group of international researchers who are compiling a list of the names of Great Escapers. For years, this information has been reported, but some of it has been inaccurate. The new findings will identify the men by the numberassigned to them in the tunnel in order to more accurately re-construct the escape. Researchers from Canada, Sweden, the UK, and the U.S are collaborating to submit all their information so that an accurate accounting, complete with details can finally be prepared. If anyone has information on any of the escapers that may not have been published, please contact James Castle in England. firstname.lastname@example.org The work he has done so far is very impressive.
Photo book – In an effort to provide more funds for the operation of the museum at Stalag Luft III in Zagan, Poland, we will be publishing a book later this year comprised of between 400 and 600 photos taken from 1939-1945 depicting life at Stalag Luft III and Moosburg. We have visited or researched photo collections in several institutions/archives, both in the United States and abroad to obtain these photos (a number of which have not been previously published). We will publish these remarkable photos and some narrative in an 8×10 book with all proceeds being donated to the museum. We have also received some photos from private collections and would be interested in any more taken from 1939-1945 at Stalag Luft III or Moosburg. Please contact Marilyn if you have any. We have engaged a professional photographer to assist us in the resolution enhancement and expect to offer the book for sale through a publishing house that we have engaged, but we will be able to sell directly as well. Likely price will be around $30. The book will have about 400 pages of photos and narrative plus stories that may be new to readers. More details will follow in future e-mails. We also are in the concept stage on a second book relating to SLIII which would have the same intent—proceeds going to the SLIII Museum.
SLIII Museum Activities- Marek’s Director’s Report
We started this year with a huge “renovation” in the museum’s main exhibition room. The big donation provided by American POWs, friends, and families enabled us to finally change the room. Meanwhile, there were some very important events here at the museum. The first event was the Long March. On January 18th, the group of air cadets fromNo.1 Radio School RAF Cosford, England, followed the historical route of the 1945 evacuation from the camp. There were two special guests, who attend each year, veteran POWs Air Commodore Charles Clarke and Andy Wiseman, who are both 90. This was also a special Long March because of the visit of RAF High Command Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Dalton.
RAF POWS Andy Wiseman and Charles Clarke
Shortly after the Long March, we organized another ceremony on February 16th – Liberation Day of Sagan. We laid wreaths on Stalag VIIIC’s Victims Monument.
The most important event was the marking of the 69th anniversary of the Great Escape. This remembrance was made even more special because of an exhibition of drawings made by 2nd Lt. Carl Holmstrom. The exhibition was donated to the museum by the family of POW Holmstrom and our very special guests were Susan Kohnovich and her son John Kohnovich, Elizabeth Holmstrom, and John Holmstrom, who presented their father’s sketches for permanent display at the museum. At that time, we also officially welcomed and honored RAF veterans, Air Commodore Charles Clarke and Andy Wiseman, as well as U.S. Army Attaché in Poland, Col. Alan W. Hester and his family.
Director Marek Lazarz with the Kohnovich family
Every year we test the knowledge of local children regarding the history of the Great Escape. Age appropriate tests are prepared for children in three different age categories. This year, nearly forty children participated in the competition. At its conclusion, we invited all of the participants to join us for a barbeque.
A second Long March took place in the spring about mid-April. A group of twenty five recruits from the Training Group RAF Halton participated in the march.
Air Commodore Clarke leads the way.
As our next project, we will finish the renovation of the main room, but the hardest part of the renovation is yet to come. For now, we will fix small details that need to be done and finish a Donation Wall, which will be ready pretty soon.
Thanks for all your support and interest.
Marilyn Walton Mike Eberhardt
Daughter of POW Thomas F. Jeffers Son of POW Charles M. Eberhardt