Stalag Luft III Newsletter – June, 2016
Greetings Stalag Luft III POWs, Families and Friends,
Summer has allowed more digging in the camp, and Marek has uncovered some very interesting items. Below is a small pot used in the making of wings in the camp.
“It looks like a mixture of sand and lead.”
My own father made wings while he was in camp:
His note: material used: pine pitch, sand, clay, and lead collected from numerous vacuum packed Sam and Corn Beef cans.
The clippings below was with the wings:
NATO Exercise in Zagan
“We have a big NATO exercise now in Zagan. Last week over 300 visitors a day–mostly British and Spanish soldiers. Very good publicity for the museum. Yesterday, I lost my voice. In late June, (after my visit in U.S.) we will have 2000 Americans in Zagan! They will all be coming for the exercise. Every year we have the huge NATO exercise in Poland. It is called ANACONDA. Usually, they operate in northern Poland (there is a similar training ground there). This year, some units will operate in Zagan. Presently, five U.S. Army Apache helicopters are now parking at Stalag VIIIC on the landing field near West Compound. I’m going to invite the pilots to see the museum. “
RAF SLIII Ex-POW Patch
Marek located this patch on the website below very similar to the U.S. patch.
On this website also hear RCAF POW’s Al Wallace’s story in the video below:
Night of Museums
A tradition in Poland, the Night of Museums is a cultural event in which museums and cultural institutions in an area cooperate to remain open late into the night.
“We did the Night of Museums last Saturday. We opened the museum for free all day, and I conducted free guided tours at 2:00pm, 4:00pm, and 6:00pm. Each tour contained approximately 35 guests. At 8:00pm, we did a night walk around the camps. Over 200 people, equipped with the flashlights, attended the walk. What a crowd! I did not expect that so many people would arrive! Great success and fantastic publicity for the museum.”
Marek with guests in the museum
Outside replica Hut 104
Mirek addresses the crowd in one of the compounds.
Tunnel Harry Memorial by flashlight
Marek has recently added a mannequin dressed in the typical ferret attire.
New Donations to the Museum
Donated by Dr Howard Tuck – UK
A Canadian Red Cross parcel, two KLIM tins (one dated 1952 and one dated 1937) and three original Stalag VIIIC framed water color paintings by French POW dated February 1942, are now displayed in the camp.
Another Polish Liberation
A friend of Marek’s filmed this incident at a restored manor in Sprottau, which was bombed when most of the American POWs were in the camp. They and the RAF POWs would have watched the planes go over, and residue from that bombing blew into the camp.
Holmstrom Artwork on Display
The art work by POW Lt. Carl Holmstrom is currently displayed at The Public Library in Zagan. The pictures were donated to the museum in Zagan by POW daughters, Susan Kohnowich and Elizabeth Holmstrom, and son, John Holmstrom, in 2013. For the last few months, the pictures were displayed at the Library in Żary ( formerly Sorau).
Red Cross POW Bulletins
“The Prisoner of War” journals were recently donated by Susan Holmstrom Kohnowich and Elizabeth Holmstrom. “The Prisoner of War” was an official journal of the POW department of the British Red Cross and St. John war organisation.
On display with bottles, possibly from medicine, found in the camp
Close up of one of the articles in the bulletins
The book mentioned in the last newsletter, has been donated to the museum by German researcher, Ingo Hauck. Major Simoleit’s (Commandant von Lindeiner’s Adjutant) book, dated 1937, is in very good condition. “Ost Deutchland und Ost Europa” (“East Germany and East Europe”). German historical and current approach to the East Europe question.
From Commandant to Captive
Mike Eberhardt still has a number of our discounted books to sell. For anyone who is interested, he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. The price is $22 which includes shipping. All proceeds go to the museum in Zagan.
Marek recently surprised me by sending a statue of Woyjtek the Polish Bear for my birthday. I put the bear to work guarding my POW books on my bookcase!
Shot Down – Steve Snyder
For the first time, the full and complete story of the B-17 Flying Fortress Susan Ruth is shared in unbelievable detail. Author Steve Snyder’s story of his father, Lieutenant Howard Snyder, and the Susan Ruth crew, provides in-depth details about many aspects of World War II few understand or know about including the:
- separation for young families as men went off to war; • training before heading to foreign soil; • military combat operations; • underground and resistance and what Lt. Snyder did when he joined it; • German atrocities toward captured crew and civilians; • behind-the-scenes stories of the Belgium civilians who risked all to save American flyers who were in the air one moment, spiraling down in flames the next; • creation and dedication of the monument to the Susan Ruth and its crew located in Macquenoise, Belgium in 1989
Shot Down was created from the vast number of letters and journals of Howard Snyder; diaries of men and women on the ground who rescued, sheltered and hid the crew; and interviews conducted by historians. Centered around the 306th Bomb Group in Thurleigh, England, it is informative, insightful and captivating.
Ogilvie Photo – Barb Edy & Keith Ogilvile – Canada
POW son, Keith Ogilvile, has this hockey picture in his collection. Barb has been trying to identify the men in the picture. Please email me if anyone looks familiar.
Message about Stalag Luft III Organiztion – POW niece, Val Burgess
CONTNIUATION OF STALAG LUFT III ORGANIZATION
“Below are some ideas that I would like to share relative to the continuation of the Stalag Luft III organization and subsequent reunions. It was brought to my attention that Marilyn Walton will not be organizing future reunions.
Since my tenure of participating in and organizing Luft III reunions, since 1995, I have participated in numerous Bomb Group and 8th Air Force reunions. I have learned a great deal about these different organizations, and know that within our group there are many that are diligently working to continue the work of preserving the Luft III stories started by the NextGen’s fathers many years ago.
The 100th Bomb Group is a stellar organization in that it operates a 501 (c) 3 that has sizeable savings, and continues to grow while at the same time finding opportunities to promote the 100th in museums throughout the world.
It is my hope that we can pattern an organization similar to the 100th. That would mean setting up a 501 (c) 3. Having a PX with products to sell at the reunions. Possibly working with them or another such agency so that we, too, begin to develop a savings, and an archive with materials for display in U.S. museums, while also aiding the Luft III museum in Poland.
For the last 23 years I have been recording and collecting stories from Luft III POWs. Five years ago, my research branched out to the Pacific Theater so am now able to share what occurred in the Pacific while the war in Europe raged on. My non-profit service includes serving on several non-profit boards, specifically one that had over 100 million in assets. Presently, we have our own non-profit for the WWII research and dissemination. I would like to aid this group in the next step, so that indeed the men can be remembered for generations to come.
Anyone interested in discussing some options of where to go with the Luft III organization, please let me know via email – email@example.com.
I would like to have a conference call or Skype call in the next two weeks with those that are interested. Thanks for your time and attention.”
Escape from Auschwitz by Car – Continued
In the last newsletter I mentioned the escape from Auschwitz by prisoners there who escaped in the kommandant’s car. That escape was memorialized by a song from Polish singer, Katy Carr. POW son, Alan Hopewell, wrote to her and got a nice response. In it, she sent the link below for the documentary in which she returns to Poland to meet the driver of that car. Watch their poignant meeting and his reaction when he hears her song. Very touching.
Sketch of POW Jim Stewart by Polish Soldier – POW Jim Stewart – Canada
A POW named Karolewski, in the Polish Army, drew this picture before liberation at Stalag III-A – Luckenwalde. Very good likeness of a handsome man!
American POWs arriving at the Interrogation Center in Oberursel
For those who have not seen them, the following two pictures have been used in many books:
Alexander Jefferson Receives Bronze Star at NAACP Annual Dinner 2016 – Barry Schoen – U.S.
Sen. Debbie Stabenow presents Lt. Col Alexander Jefferson (94) one of the military’s highest honors, the Bronze Star. A new documentary is being released this month on iTunes about Alex’s incredible life story entitled, The Luft Gangster: Memoirs of A Second Class Hero. Find out more information about this award-winning documentary at: www.LuftGangsterMovie.com
POW Son Returns to Stalag Luft III – Gary Alexander – U.S.
Gary has sent this picture taken at the site of his father’s barracks. Marek’s assistant, Mirek, gave Gary a tour of the camp and located the foundation of the barracks where Gary’s father had lived. Gary remembered his father in a symbolic way placing the star and German dog tag at the site.
How Many Men Lost During the Liberation of Moosburg?
According to the detailed memoir of POW William H. Couch’s, 15 Allied men were lost and 65-70 Germans.
Cap Badge Found in England – Trevor Hewitt – UK
I have walked the crash site of the Belle of Boston with my friend Trevor Hewitt when I helped him find family members of the crew of that plane that crashed in England on his grandfather’s farm, May 8, 1944, losing half its crew. Trevor now has a museum on the site.
“I was walking around the display huts at Flixton Aviation museum today when I spotted this cap badge in a cabinet. It took me by surprise a bit I must admit when I saw it and the aircraft number, 42-52404, which was the Belle of Boston’s number. It was found at the crash site, and I have since discovered this evening that it was found there in the 1980s by a young lady who kept a horse on that crash site. She gave it to the museum. So, I have found out today that TWO of the four officers’ cap badges from the Belle of Boston have now been found. That is something special. I just wonder who they belonged to.”
Read about the fate of the Belle here: http://www.458bg.com/crew42kingsley.htm
“Lilli Marlene” – A Kriegie’s Memory
The song was so popular with both German and Allied forces, and the memorable tune was also heard at Stalag Luft III. According to POW Harry X. Ford, in his fine book, Mud, Wings and Wire, for a long time he held memories of New Year’s Eve, 1944, when he lived in Center Compound that sat just behind the German truppenlager just outside the wire, next to Block 51. Shortly after the men in Block 51 were locked in for the night they heard shrill German voices singing and laughing, many womens’, as well a martial music and the rhythmic oom-pa-pa of a celebration. As the men lay in their darkened room, the sounds of voices outside reminded them of how isolated they were from their own loved ones, and they thought of wives, mothers and sisters. At midnight, the party noise stopped, and the voice of Adolf Hitler boomed over the radio, giving his New Year’s Day address. When his speech was over, the loudspeaker was turned off and from within the barracks the familiar strains of Lilli Marlene rose softly from the voices of the celebrants—familiar to the krieiges remembering dances at the base in Kimbolton where the song was played many times over the radio and by British orchestras at dances. Originating in Germany, the song was played every night by Rommel for his Afrika Korps and was quickly picked up by the British Army Desert Rats as their own. In Jan. 1943, Joseph Goebbels banned the song after the Germans disastrous defeat at Stalingrad. He considered the lyrics too sentimental for ardent Nazi troops of the Third Reich, claiming the “dance of death roamed throughout the song’s bars.” In its place, Goebbels promulgated Bomb auf England! (Bombs on England! — a more appropriate song for German troops. Although he ordered the master record of Lilli Marlene destroyed and put the recording star, Lale Anderson, under arrest as a spy, a second master found its way to Switzerland where it continued to be broadcast all over Europe for the duration of the war.
When the final strains of the song faded into silence, the visitors to the truppenlager began to leave, their crunching footsteps could be heard in the snow as they made their way to the main gate. Before falling asleep, the kriegies heard a woman and a child talking as they made their way along the wire just outside Block 51. When they came to the guard tower nearest the barracks, they stopped and began talking with the guard in the goonbox overhead. After a moment or two, the child said something the kriegies all understood.
“”Guten Neu Yahr, Poppa,” he said.
“Guten Neu Yahr, mine libeling,” responded a guard sadly as they left.
For a moment, all Ford could hear was the sound of soft coughing and the clearing of throats coming from his roommates as they fought back the tears.
“We’re all prisoners in this damn war!” someone in the darkness said in a wavering voice. Ford turned on his side, bit his lip, and silently wept.
POW Leonard Spivey – Lili Marlene
[can’t copy link fro original newsletter]
POW War Bracelet Request – POW daughter, Joan Wootton – U.S.
Joan, the daughter of B-17 pilot, William Bramwell, is a docent at the Palm Springs Air Museum. She asked that I pass this information on to you in hopes that some of you might have a POW/MIA bracelet you would be willing to donate to the museum to honor the many Americans who did not return from the Vietnam War for a new exhibit being developed at the museum.
“As we recently celebrated another Memorial Day, we don’t want to forget the many men who did not come home from the Vietnam War. In addition to the 715 POWs, there were another 2646 MIAs. In order to honor their memory, the Palm Springs Air Museum in Palm Springs, CA, is now accepting Vietnam POW/MIA Bracelets for the new General Ken Miles Vietnam Hangar. VIVA (Voices in Vital America) distributed some five million bracelets in the early 70s for people to wear to bring attention to the thousands of missing Americans in Vietnam. The Vietnam POW/MIA Bracelet Display consists of a display wall with plaques honoring 715 POWs and a display case displaying the MIA and POW bracelet donations. There are currently 250 bracelets in the museum’s collection. For each there is a display page, as well as a digital touch screen to bring up an index, the display pages, POW videos, digital articles and memorabilia. If you, or someone you know, has a bracelet, please consider donating it to the museum. For further information, the museum’s website is palmspringsairmuseum.org – click Museum – click Displays – click The Vietnam POW/MIA Bracelet Display. Please contact Dr. Dave Thompson at PSAM who manages this project at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at
And please come visit the Museum and see the fabulous collection of WWII, Korean and Vietnam era aircraft including, of course, our B17!”
“The Hand” – The Works of Lee Kessler – Jim Pearson and Matt Waechter U.S.
Jim Pearson, son of SLIII POW Lt. Cliff H. Pearson, and Lee Kessler’s grandson, Matt Waecher, share the story of this historic sketch byLee Kessler. Kessler was Jim’s wife’s, brother’s, father-in law.
The following is a short excerpt of the background for the drawing by the artist:
“With the onslaught of the Russian Army and their advance on Austria and the Danube in late March 1945, Germans evacuated Stalag XVII-B, marching those who could walk, on the road West. After a couple of weeks on the road, we passed a place called Mauthausen. We later learned it was a Concentration Camp, although at the time we knew little about them. Approaching us from the opposite direction was a group of prisoners from this camp who had been working in a quarry. They were Hungarian Jews and were guarded by the S.S. We were halted at the side of the road as these walking skeletons passed. Occasionally, we heard the crack of pistols and knew what they were for. Those who fell and were too weak to get up were shot. Two prisoners followed a wagon and loaded the bodies.
“I approached one of the bodies of a man shot in the head lying along the side of the road and noticed a crinkled photograph by his hand. As he lie, his arm stretched out as if to be reaching for the picture. I moved off the road for a better look at the photo and I was just about to pick it up, but a guard shouted for me to get back. The picture was of a women and two small children. As I glanced back, I saw that a butterfly had lit on him.
I was obsessed with the scene. Here was this man, dead by the side of the road. The last thing he looked at was a picture of his family, probably his only possession, and where were they? Dead or in some other camp. At that moment, I could only think that everyone has the right to die with dignity, and here was a poor soul who died with such obscurity.
Sometime in the fifties, I started a sketch of a rough outline but put it away, since I felt no one would understand what I was trying to portray. Twenty years later as I lay in the hospital, a nurse who knew me and my association with art suggested I do artwork for therapy. I had my wife hunt for this sketch, bring my pen and ink, and with the encouragement of the staff I finished the picture.
Like other pictures, I put it away feeling that no one but me could really understand it.”
Be sure to watch the very interesting Kessler interview below:
Korean War Link – POW son, Mike Eberhardt – U.S.
For anyone who is interested in receiving a newsletter about the Korean War, visit the link below. Hal and Ted Barker, of Dallas, started sending out the email newsletter in Dec. 1998, and it reaches over 2000 people.
The picture was of a woman and two children. As I looked back, a butterfly landed on him. I was numb the rest of the march. Here was this man, dead by the side of the road, probably the last thing he looked at was his family, a photo which was his only possession and where were they? Dead or in some other camp. At that moment I could only think that everyone has the right to die with dignity and there was this poor soul who died with such obscurity.”
POW Doug Morrison, age 94, passed away Sunday morning May 1st. So many will remember him from past reunions, Dayton and Colorado Springs, when our group of POWs sang, Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B. He had remained active, golfing or bowling or playing duplicate bridge or at church. We will miss his bright smile and sense of humor. Condolences from the entire SLIII Community to the family.
POW Robert Weinberg
Bob passed away May 12th. Former President and Director of the Stalag Luft III Former Prisoners of War Association since its inception in 1983, Bob collected numerous items both during World War II and afterwards, regarding life in POW camps. He donated these items to the Air Force Academy Library, Clark Special Collections Branch in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He also donated photographs and documentation regarding POW reunions and copies of the camp POW newsletter entitled, “Kriegie Klarion.” Bob, with his wife Nina, who pre-deceased him, was heavily-involved in the planning of reunions over the years. He was also an advisor on the movie, The Great Escape. Bob was a lawyer, Assistant Attorney General of Maryland, a civic leader, and a book collector. He was President of the Board of the Jewish Historical Society of Maryland, and active in many Jewish and non-Jewish organizations.
See interview below:
Sincere condolences to the Weinberg family.
Stalag Luft III/Buchenwald POW Has a Street Named for Him – Barry Schoen – U.S.
Spike Jones – Der Fuehrer’s Face – POW son, Alan Hopewell – U.S.
Alan’s father’s plane was called Der Fuehrers’ Face
WWII Vet Chief Medicine Crow – Ross Greene – U.S.
Arlington National Cemetery Fly Over – Ross Greene – U.S.
POW Auschwitz Mug Found with Ring – POW son, Alan Hopewell – U.S.
French Award to Hanks, Brokaw and Mueller – Barb Edy – Canada
Memphis Belle Gunner Dies in the UK – Ross Greene – U.S.
War Dogs – Edouard Renière – Belgium
32 Fabulous Images of Spitfires (The images copy easily.)
Leaving you with these words by Lee Kessler:
“I am not afraid of tomorrow for I have seen yesterday and today is beautiful – an Ex-POW”
Until next time,
Daughter of POW Thomas F. Jeffers