Stalag Luft III Newsletter #16 from Marilyn Walton and Mike Eberhardt – March 28, 2015
Greetings to Stalag Luft III Family and Friends,
Hoping this will find everyone who experienced the frigid winter of 2014/15 thawing out! As we all ease into spring, we’d like to send out news of the old camp and related material.
Our Newest Book
Mike and Marilyn would like to announce the publication of their newest book, “From Commandant to Captive.” This book is the re-edited memoir written by Col. Friedrich von Lindeiner, Commandant of Stalag Luft III, before and during the Great Escape, which few have read. In addition to the memoir, the book contains all the letters written over twenty-plus years between von Lindeiner and Col. Delmar Spivey, Senior American Officer of Center Compound. The correspondence began when Col. Spivey located von Lindeiner living in a POW camp in England. The letters, both informative and poignant, are an interesting historic chronicle of their post-war lives. The original letters, very frail, are held in the A.F. Academy Clark Collection. The book also contains trial transcriptions from von Lindeiner and Hermann Goering. The book concludes with the full story of Lisa Knüppel, the young German woman who was a mail censor in the camp, von Lindeiner’s secretary, and like the Allied POWs, an evacuee of the camp in January, 1945. Her story parallels the prisoners’, and it gives incredible insight into the life of a young German woman in war-torn Germany. Many of you met her daughter, Andrea Hatfield, at the German Panel discussion during the reunion in Colorado Springs last year. Marilyn and Mike will have limited discounted copies of the book, (much shorter than the last book!) for sale. If you would like one or more copies, please email either of us, at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org after May 2nd. After that, the book can be purchased at www.lulu.com by clicking on the bookstore tab and entering the name of the book. As with our book, “From Interrogation to Liberation – A Photographic Journey – Stalag Luft III – The Road to Freedom,” 100% of the proceeds will benefit the museum in Poland and other POW causes. Mike has a limited number of discounted copies of that book for anyone wanting one. We recommend using lulu.com, rather than amazon.com, as the royalty on the book will much higher if ordered from lulu, providing more money for the POW causes. All proceeds from books purchased privately through Mike or Marilyn will also go to the causes. So far, the total amount sent to the museum that we collected in donations from the reunion, our book sales, and the sale of Stalag Luft III patches is in excess of $6,000. We continue to send contributions received on to support the museum.
“Goon in the Block” – For a fantastic and thorough read on Stalag Luft III, it is hard to beat RAF POW Don Edy’s fine book, “Goon in the Block.” Don traces his wartime experiences in exquisite detail – www.goonintheblock.com
Polish Bear Subject of New Book – There is a statue of Wojtek in Zagan’s town square.
“Wojtek the Bear: Polish War Hero” – Paperback – August 19, 2012 by Aileen Orr
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=giRwps3_0bA video about Wojtek
Marek – “We pronounce the bear’s name, VOYTEK. There is a school in Zagan named after Polish General Anders who was commander of the Polish Army 1944-1945. Wojtek ‘served’ in artillery support unit that fought at Monte Cassino. I’ve personally met the soldier (He became professor after the war.) who looked after Wojtek.”
Polish professor who looked after the bear
New Book – The Green Box – When he was 8-years old, Jim Kurtz, son of Lt. Robert Kurtz, a Stalag Luft III POW, found a green box in the attic. Its contents led him on a poignant journey to learn more of the father he barely knew–a husband and father of four who died far too young.
New Book on Escape and Evasion – Evasion devices produced by MI9 and SOE in UK AND MIS-X in USA during WW2. – author – Phil Froom – UK
“I saw the Escape Compass you found on the Canadian tunic on your website and thought you may be interested to know that Schiffer Publishing are releasing a dedicated book on all the Escape and Evasion devices produced by MI9 and SOE in UK AND MIS-X in USA during WW2. Perhaps your readers would also be interested?”
News from Marek – Director of POW Camps Museum in Zagan
Marek Trivia – Did you know? Marek is a former European tour guide and bus driver. He has conducted tours in France, Italy, Spain, and Greece, but mostly in Western Europe. His driver’s license for buses and heavy trucks is still valid. He has given tours of Monte Cassino, in Italy, location of an historic bombing of the abbey there, over 100 times. Well-versed in tourist bus travel, Marek also drives tanks and all types of armored vehicles. Plus, he knows how to repair them! He is in the Polish army reserve.
Memorial Restoration – A few months ago Marek sent a proposal for the restoration of the monument for Stalag VIIIC victims to the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage, and his was the winning proposal, which afforded him funding to restore the memorial. Many who have visited there will recall the emaciated figure lying above the steps that lead to the museum. The renovation of the monument will start in June and will be completed before September 1st. The figure will be cleaned, and the large block will be covered with special stone-like material. There will also be new lights installed.
Presentation in the Church in Ilowa (formerly Halbau) – Marek met with Polish school children on the 27th of January in Christ the King Catholic Church (Kościół Jezusa Króla) for over an hour to educate them on the Long March, answering their questions and showing them a slide presentation. He was introduced by the director of the school there, and the mayor of the town of Ilowa attended the presentation as well.
Before the presentation, Marek and the children walked a symbolic march from the school to the church. Just as the night Center Compound stayed in the church, the church was once again completely packed. In 2005, the school was named after Allied Airmen to commemorate all POWs from Stalag Luft 3.
Fallen Tree Reveals Secret – A local man, who lives near the camp, discovered a fallen tree blown over by strong winds during his daily walk. When he examined the root system of the tree, he found a stove tangled in the roots and also an old ice skate’s blade. He informed Marek immediately. The morning of March 5th, Marek and Mirek arrived with shovels and dug up the stove. It turned out to be the stove from North Compound’s Hut #103. Some years ago, the previous museum director, Jacek Jakubiak, had found a similar stove in a dump, and it was eventually restored and put in the replica Hut #104 on the museum grounds.
blade from hockey skate
old stove in tree roots
stove used in the camp
Arrival of Old Locker – Recently, Marek was able to locate a military locker at a local army base that had been used by the Germans in their living quarters. The original German military wardrobe is in perfect condition. Similar ones were used in POW camps, especially in the Kommandantur.
faded German eagle stamp
Pocket Calendar – Local people continue to find items to contribute to the museum. Marek was given a YMCA POW pocket calendar intended for Polish kriegies. Before it was sent to Oflag IIC, it went through the “POW Help Center” in Sagan, and it displays that stamp.
Mysterious Police Badge Found in Camp
The kriegie-made police shield below presents another mystery. The number on it is 41757, and the badge bears the words New York State Police. The badge was found buried after 70 years in the camp just recently. Could it be a replica of a police shield once worn by a captive American? Or perhaps a replica of one worn at that time by a POW’s father? Mike has contacted the historian for the New York Police, but they have been unable to trace the number. Anyone knowing anything about this badge, let us know.
Promoting Tourism – The increasingly-large numbers visiting the camp and museum have been due in great part to the promotional opportunities Marek and Mirek have taken advantage of. They recently represented POW Camps Museum at the International Tourist Trade Fairs (Tourist EXPO) 2015 in Wroclaw (formerly Breslau). The EXPO was held in Wroclaw’s famous building, Centennial Hall, designed by Max Berg, an architect and builder. The facility is the most famous work reflecting Wrocław Modernism. It was erected between 1911 and 1913. During the weekend, about 10,000 visited the fairs — very good publicity for the museum.
Marek and Mirek
Centennial Hall – Wroclaw
Der Adler was a Luftwaffe periodical distributed to the POWs in the camp. Of all the German reading material distributed in the camp, it was the most popular due its articles and many pictures of aircraft. Marek recently acquired an original copy dated 1944. He bought Der Adler on Polish e-bay– allegro.pl
Key Rings – Another donation has found its way to the museum but poses a bit of a mystery. Below are key rings from North Compound, but no one knows how they were used. The numbered metal tags attached to keys. There is a hut number and room number on each. Marek has about 10 of them. Were they used by POWs for some purpose or by German guards? No one seems to know.
POW Wiliam J. Billig’s dog-tag has now been displayed in the museum. Mirek found it in South Compound.
Very Special and Honored Guests – It was always the wish of author and Stalag Luft III historian, Art Durand, to visit the old camp and museum in Zagan. He passed away never having had the opportunity. Last winter, Art Durand’s family visited Marek at the camp, and Marek greeted them warmly.
Art Durand’s wife, two of his three sons, and his daughter-in-law with Marek
Hockey Picture – Marek has sent along a newly-found picture of POWs playing hockey at the camp. These are most likely Canadians in North Compound.
Von Lindeiner’s Ashtray? – This ash tray, found in the camp years ago, is quite distinctive. Could this ornate piece have once set on the desk of Col. von Lindeiner? We will never know. If only these artifacts could talk!
Old Guestbooks Found – Marek has recently found the old guestbooks signed by former visitors to the camp. He has looked through them recognizing many names. POW Joe Klaas, author of the classic novel “Maybe I’m Dead,” visited the museum in 1973.
Gen. Spivey signing guestbook
Joe Klaas entry
Gen. Spivey’s entry with Polish newspaper clippings
71st Anniversary of the Great Escape in Zagan
To mark the 71st anniversary of the Great Escape, over 100 Polish Boy Scouts began as early as March 20 when they came to Zagan to commemorate the 50. They spent three days in Zagan exploring, and marching around. They used maps and had to find special check points. At each check point, the boys performed various tasks like knowledge tests, physical exercises, etc.
Polish Boy Scouts
Scouts at attention – Marek and Mirek at the right
March 24th was the official ceremony, during which the names of the 50, who were murdered, were read. Mr. Daniel Marchewka, Mayor of Zagan, gave a speech, and there was also a gun salute by the Polish Army. Very special guests were from the 31st Tactical Air Base of PAF (Polish Air Force), four F-16 fighter pilots who came to honor the 50. To surprise Marek, his friends from Zagan’s Armoured Division Band arrived to play the theme from the movie, “The Great Escape.” The nick name of the division is the “Black Division.” It is a tribute to the Polish WW2 tank crews who wore black leather jackets. Germans used to call them “black devils.” Today every soldier, NCO, and officer wears black epaulette on the left side.
Marek, left, and the mayor
four Polish fighter pilots
Polish army gun salute
Armoured Band in background – Polish WWII army veterans foreground
Finally, people from all over Poland paid tribute to The Fifty in Zagan on the 28th of March. Over 400 runners came to Zagan to join “The Great Escape Cup” Cross Country Run at the POW Camps Museum.
off and running
prestigious medals for the winners – Could Roger Bushell ever have imagined such a thing?
POW daughter, Pamela Wade, visits the camp and writes her experience in this account:
The loss of several of our POW and/or friends has come to our attention. Our condolences to all their families. These men brought such joy to all of us.
Charles B. Woehrle – The Oldest American Stalag Luft III POW
Charles, an attendee at so many SLIII Reunions, slipped away the morning of March 25th at the age of 98. Many of you might remember him speaking at the reunion in Dayton just before the lunch at Young’s Dairy. Everyone knew Charles, and he really represents the passing of an era. His devoted niece, Louise, continues to work on a documentary of his life. We had showed a clip of it at the Colorado reunion. A consummate story teller and gentleman, Charles has left an indelible mark on all who knew him.
Courtesy Louise Woehrle
Charles receiving a ribbon from an admirer at the Stalag Luft III Reunion in Dayton, Ohio, in 2012, after Charles spoke at the luncheon.
Charles is escorted by a Scout to salute the colors at the 2012 Dayton Reunion – The youngest and the oldest at the reunion dinner.
Jay Coberly, the Second Oldest American POW
Jay passed away Dec 21, 2014 – We extend our sympathies to daughter, Michelle, who brought him to the Dayton Reunion. Jay flew with the 94th BG and was a member of the Second Schweinfurt Memorial Association. When, at the Dayton Reunion Gala Dinner, the oldest POW from Stalag Luft IIII, Charles Woehrle, was announced, a humorous voice yelled from another table, “I’ll win it next year!” That voice belong to the delightful Jay Coberly. The passing of both men, only three months apart, is such a loss for all us who knew both of them.
Jay and Michelle
Courtesy Sue Moyer
Link to obituary: http://milward.mem.com/Obituary/6252461/84460428/85693669?title=Obituary
David Schellenger passed away in August 2014.
Getting his microphone for a Dayton radio interview at the 2012 Dayton Stalag Luft III Reunion
David at the Gala Dinner at the reunion in 2012 – winner of the Spam prizes.
Two Doolittle Raiders Pass Away
Ed Saylor – passed away on January 28, 2015. Here’s a nice interview with him.
Bob Hite – passed away March 28th, 2015.
Bob Hite at the 2009 Raiders’ Reunion
Courtesy John Lanza
There are now just two living Raiders or the original 80, remaining: Dick Cole and David Thatcher.
From Mary Ruwell – Archivist at the Air Force Academy
This picture shows some well-known names. – Hermann Glemnitz, “Wings” Day, Gen. Spivey, Dr.Haulbold, and Maj. Simoleit
Jim Stewart, RAF – Buchenwald and SLIII POW has sent a canine-oriented crew picture and a haunting picture of his I.D. card issued when he arrived at Stalag Luft III after his time in Buchenwald. Compare the picture that was taken of him for a false I.D. card when he was evading in Paris to the ID card from Stalag Luft III post-Buchenwald. Stewart is sitting in the front row, third from the left. Look hard to see the dog on his lap.
“Notice ‘Blitz’ sitting on my knee…. Squadron log noted, ‘Blitz missed Jimmy for some time.’” “My good Welsh buddy, Idwal Davies, sitting next to me, was promoted to Squadron Leader and left us, with his dog, to command 198 Sqdn. Unfortunately, he was killed in action on 22 June 1944.”
Jim’s SLIII ID card, above, and his fake ID picture taken in Paris below.
Col. Keeffe’s Treasure Trove – From time to time POW James Keeffe,’s son, Jim, explores the room that holds so many intriguing wartime/POW items of his father. Col. Keeffe, formerly in Center Compound, is 92 and we wish him well. Keep digging, Jim! Here are the latest finds:
“Here are a few photos my dad took in 1959 of the blocks at Stalag VII A and the entrance to the camp. Also a photo of POWs milling around inside the camp, which I think my dad took after liberation because it is an original photo.” Below are photos of the barracks used for civilian housing. They are all gone now.
the former entrance into Stalag VIIA
“To the honor of the dead – A lesson to the living”
Stalag VIIA block and monument
solitary confinement cell in the cooler and hallway to the interrogation offices
“This building is called “the Children’s House” or “The School.” It is one of the original farm style buildings built on the Oberursel site in the early thirties. It is the first of the old houses at the end of Camp King Road.” Claudius Scharff, son of Master Interrogator, Hans Scharff
“Photo of the 1965 reunion with Wings Day, my dad, and an ex-POW named Clem Pearce”
repairing the damaged steeple of St. Kastulus in Moosburg
Here’s a photo from 1970 Dad took looking from Stalag VII A toward the hill where the US tanks were first seen approaching the camp.
B-17s to F-16s
Col. Keeffe has just turned 92, and his birthday brought some unexpected joys. When the colonel’s son, Jim, wrote a book about his father’s experiences, the story led Jim to Holland last spring where he met people related to those who helped his father evade. One man, who helped the downed airman evade, was Johannes Korteland whose rabbit shed the airman hid in when he first hit the ground. Johannes has passed away, but his grandson, Sjaak (Jack) and wife, Pleunie, flew from Holland to Washington State to help celebrate Col. Keeffe’s 92nd birthday. It so happens that the Seattle Museum of Flight has a B-17, and it was Jack’s dream to see a B-17, knowing those planes flew over his homeland so long ago to liberate his country. Johannes likely saw many of them. Jim contacted the museum and asked if it would be possible for all of them to visit to see the plane.
Jim: “Even though it is stored in a separate hanger during winter, the museum pulled out all the stops and gave us the royal treatment. We all met at the museum last Thursday [March 26th] and were shuttled to a hanger on the other side of the flight line. Then we were escorted to a door, opened it, and went inside to the spotless hanger with a magnificent B-17 sitting there just waiting for us. For the Kortelands, this was a dream come true as the B-17 and B-24 are symbols of liberty to them.”
Pictures below show the birthday party and visit.
“Sjaak and Pleunie brought the most wonderful gift for my dad – two beautifully framed drawings of F-16 fighter jets from the Dutch Air Force. One is from the 312th Squadron, the other from the 313th. All the pilots of both squadrons signed and wrote personal notes to my dad. It was their way of giving honor and respect to a fellow warrior and saying thank you for his service in helping to liberate their country. There wasn’t a dry eye at the party when Sjaak presented the pictures to Dad.”
Col. Keeffe with Dutch visitors Sjaak and Pleunie and gifts
Sjaak in the cockpit of the B-17
Group Gathers by the B-17
South 129 Map – Thanks to James Castle
Lt. Robert M. Polich drew the map.
Request from Jeannie Kibler – looking for any information on Lt. Daniel L. Finley. Contact: email@example.com or 743 Welsh Run Rd., Ruckersville, VA 22968. Lt. Finley died at Stalag VIIA and was buried there in 1945.
Honor for Tuskegee Airman, Alex Jefferson – A film about Alex called, “The Luft Gangster: Memoirs of A Second Class Hero” won Best Documentary Feature for 2014 at the Los Angeles International Underground Film Festival. It was produced by:
Dynasty Media Network, 925 W. Nine Mile Rd.,
Big Screen/HD movie Project Looking for B-24 Veterans to Interview
Here’s a chance to be a star! The Collings Foundation is doing an IMAX film, “The Last Liberator.” They are looking for B24 vets to interview and potentially cast in this unique film. Also looking for any women who worked at the MI Willow Run B-24 plant, or women pilots who ferried the B-24s from Willow Run. Contact Hunter Chaney at Collings Foundation. firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1 800 568-8924
Or send a letter to:
ATTN: Last Liberator
PO Box 248
Stow MA 01775
Bombardiers – The following is just a brief segment of an extensive article on WWII bombardiers. Anyone wanting the full article, please email Marilyn.
Cadets selected for bombardier training were entrusted with one of our nation’s most closely guarded military secrets, the famous Norden bombsight. Once a man had completed bombardier preflight training, he was sent to bombardier school where he was required to take a special oath, promising to protect the secret of the sight with his life.
Bombardier school lasted from 12 to 18 weeks during which a student dropped approximately 160 bombs, both in daytime and at night. Precise records were maintained of his hits and misses; the elimination rate was 12%. Upon graduation, a bombardier was transferred to an operational training unit to join a crew being trained for overseas duty. By war’s end, more than 45,000 bombardiers had been trained.
THE BOMBARDIER’S OATH
“Mindful of the secret trust about to be placed in me by my Commander in Chief, the President of the United States, by whose direction I have been chosen for bombardier training…and mindful of the fact that I am to become guardian of one of my country’s most priceless military assets, the American bombsight…I do here, in the presence of Almighty God, swear by the Bombardier’s Code of Honor to keep inviolate the secrecy of any and all confidential information revealed to me, and further to uphold the honor and integrity of the Army Air Forces, if need be, with my life itself.”
The bombardiers took the oath before a security cover was taken off of the Norden bombsight sitting on the table at graduation.
Thanks to so many of you who send items for this newsletter. Below is a collection of the latest interesting websites and videos with names of those who contributed them.
N.Y. Times Link to Lt. Ewart Sconiers – Ed Renière
http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/f-chat/2921868/posts – HURT PILOT SAVED CRIPPLED FORTRESS.
2nd Air Division Airfields – Walton/Eberhardt
Stalag Luft III POW Rosters – Maybe some familiar names? Walton/Eberhardt
POW Ed Edward “Jonesy” Szaniawski – Incredible collection once belonging to POW Ed Edward “Jonesy” Szaniawski, 457th Fighter Sq. The collection was recently rescued from destruction. Check pictures included for any familiar POW faces! – Dick Olson
Roommates South – Block 129/Room 14 – Terry Holmstead
Great Escape Movie – filming locations – Tom Colones
Two Tuskegee Airmen, 91, Die on the Same Day in Los Angeles – Alan Hopewell
Diamond Li’l – B-24 used in the Movie Unbroken – Barry Schoen
Congressional Gold Medal for Doolittle Raiders – Marianne Leary
Touching Artwork by Bob Wilson – The Last Survivor – Barry Schoen – Well worth a look!
Video links from our readers:
Warbirds – Hugh Carter – Vietnam Vet – Something for everyone!
More Warbirds from Around the World – Claudius Scharff
Nixon Dinner for Returned Vietnam Vets – Hugh Carter – Watch for our Guy Gruters who
spoke at the Stalag Luft III Reunion in Colorado. We will never forget these brave men.
Rare German Planes Found in a Texas Barn – Barry Schoen
Battle of Britain Pilots
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JS_4wioaVBc – Walton/Eberhardt
Incredible Budapest Air Show
Accidental Bombing in Boise City, Oklahoma – 1943 – Walton/Eberhardt
The Memphis Belle – Story of a B-17 Crew – Trevor Hewitt
4-Star General George Babbitt – Drummer for the Ventures – Diane Stamp
Two RAF POWs visit Stalag Luft III – We ran out of time to play this delightful documentary at the Colorado reunion, so here it is online. – James Castle
Attack on U.S.S. Laffey by Kamikazes – camera in gun turret – Ross Greene – best naval footage ever shot by a Navy cameraman.
Until next time ….
Marilyn Walton Mike Eberhardt
Daughter of POW Thomas Jeffers Son of POW Charles Eberhardt