Stalag Luft III Family and Friends,
We hope you are having a wonderful summer. Since our last newsletter, there have been a few things to report, so we are glad to pass them along. For those of you who have not heard, the BBC will be doing a re-make of the movie, “The Great Escape,” due out early next year. No further information at this time.
First of all, for those of you who donated to the museum for the memorial plaque to honor your fathers, husbands, uncles, or remembered crew, you can see the result below. This remarkable “antiqued” memorial version of “Old Glory” was designed by museum director, Marek Lazarz, who carefully monitored all the details of its creation. A smaller plaque, specifically designed for the RAF/RCAF is shown below and will be mounted when the proper mounting board arrives. It will hang beside the American flag on the donation wall of the museum. Hopefully, the picture’s clarity is sufficient that you can find the name/names you are looking for. If you would like larger version emailed to you, please let us know. So many of the names here bring back memories for all of us of those we knew and who were such good friends to us and to each other. A special thank you to those who donated far more than was asked. With well over $12,000 donated, we were able to remember far more POWs than we could have imagined and give such a substantial donation to the museum to fund the renovation. None of the men listed on this flag could have had any idea back in 1944/45 that their names would one day grace such a memorial due to the love of their families and friends. It took a joint international effort to get this done, and we are immensely proud of the effort and your enthusiasm for this project.
South Compound Ledger – Library of Congress
The original ledger kept by POW Ewell McCright of the 2200 POWs from South Compound is held at the Library of Congress. The A.F. Academy also has some of the original pages. For those of you seeking to find a special name of a South Compound POW, you can contact the link below and request that they search for the correct page. Not all spellings are correct in the transcription, so if you have difficulty, please let us know, and we will help you search. The Lib. of Congress has the document on microfilm. We have found our fathers’ pages in the ledger, and it is interesting to see their names in McCright’s original tiny handwriting in this historic document.
http://beta.worldcat.org/archivegrid/data/716312399 – Link to archival listing at the Lib. of Congress
Alex on Television
Our own Alexander Jefferson has proved his star quality again, appearing on the Military Channel’s new series, Air Aces.Some of you might have seen him on commercials for the show. Check your local listings to find the time the show is shown in your location. If you miss any episodes, they are repeated many times.
In 1943, two RAF POWs, flight lieutenants Lorne Welch and Walter Morison, who both spoke German, were dressed in green German uniforms and escaped from SLIII in an attempt to steal a German aircraft to fly to Sweden. They almost succeeded. After leaving the camp, they headed for Kupper Airfield, which is just north of the camp. It can be seen on many aerial recon maps. Below are two pictures recently taken of the old German airfield. It was in the Red Army’s hands until 1992, and when the Red Army went back home, people started to build houses around the closed airfield and village. Now called Tomaszowo, it is in the suburbs of Zagan. The old German runway and hangars are still there, and some hangars have become apartments. The hanger shown below was Soviet built. Thanks to Marek for the pictures.
Old German Film
Marek has come across an old German propaganda film of interest, made in 1943. You might recognize the sign in the screenshot below:
Next year will mark the 70thanniversary of the Great Escape, and plans are being made to observe that solemn date. More details to follow for anyone wishing to return.
The City of Zagan has decided to make the old camp a historic park soon, making the camp easier to protect. Zagan’s police, City Guards, and Forest Guards will then be responsible for watching over the camp and museum. Recently, an American contingent, the Conventional Force in Europe delegation, arrived to do an inspection of Zagan’s Army base and stopped to visit the camp. Marek took them on a tour and attended a wreath-laying at the memorial by the museum.
Thanks to your support, Marek has been able to transform the old museum into a more modern facility. Much of the work he has done on his own time—painting, heating, and air conditioning, to conserve the funds he has been given. Great job, Marek!
New Book – From Interrogation to Liberation
We are putting the finishing touches on a new book about Stalag Luft III. Its name will be, “From Interrogation to Liberation—A Pictorial Journey—Stalag Luft III – The Road to Freedom.” The book will contain over 700 pictures, many donated to us from archives worldwide and family collections so that we can present some pictures that perhaps have not been seen before. The response we have gotten from so many archives and private collections has been phenomenal. We have located a variety of stories depicting the lives of all of the Allies in the camp, and we have found stories about the Germans who were employed in the camp as well. The full story of Morison and Welch, mentioned above, is one of many that will be in the book, as well as the full stories of Irv Baum and Alexander Jefferson. This book has been a massive undertaking, but it is a labor of love, as 100% of the proceeds will go to the museum in Zagan. Hope to get it to the publisher by September with a release some months afterward.
For those researchers interested in criminal trials after the war, see:
The section marked “Major German War Criminals” covers the German hierarchy, and “SS & Gestapo Officials” pertains to the murder of the fifty after the Great Escape. The “Erich Killinger” section covers the trials of officials at Dulag Luft.
The following poem was sent to us by Mike Woodworth. It was one of the many that was copied into Wartime Log Books. Thanks, Mike!
Dick Kenney Story
Below is a link to a recent story about one of our email recipients and Stalag Luft III POWs, Dick Kenney.
We encourage all of our POWs receiving this newsletter to send us brief stories or anecdotes about their POW days. The emails reach hundreds of people, and it could be someone out there is looking for you!
Wishing you a wonderful “rest of the summer.”
Marilyn Walton Mike Eberhardt
Daughter of POW Thomas F. Jeffers Son of POW Charles M. Eberhardt