I Was a Prisoner of War

A story by: Mr. S. | Added: December 2012
Germany
1944-1945

The following is an interview of Mr. S., a Jewish American soldier held as a prisoner of war in a German Camp during World War II. Interview of Mr. S. by Evelyn Marshak My mother was a great baker. After I was liberated from a German prisoner of war camp where I had been held for seven months, I was allowed to go back to Waterbury on leave. What my mom baked, in my honor, landed our picture in the local paper. Actually anything served me tasted very good. The food in the POW camp was awful. We used the coffee to shave with. During the week the food, well… We called it rutabaga soup. On Sundays there was some kind of meat. Occasionally, the Red Cross would send packages to our POW camp. One package for each prisoner but in our camp eight people had to share the package. We had been captured at the end of September. Being a prisoner of war meant we were sent into town to work on re-building the railroads. That was from September to January 1945. In that time we were living in a barn and sleeping on straw mats that were infested with lice. The camp, Camp Moosburg, was about 40 miles from Munich. The POW head commander said if we acted like soldiers we would be treated okay. That was basically true. We were not beaten but our captors were regular German Army and not SS troops. Plus, I didn’t feel that the Jewish POWs were treated any differently. Then in January of 1945 rumors began to fly that the Jewish POWs would be sent to the Russian front to bury the many dead. That never happened but as the end of the war became a real possibility, we kept hearing a tremendous amount of bombing of a nearby town aimed at destroying its infrastructure. We were liberated by the U.S. Army on April 25, 1945. Of course I will always remember that date. Because of sleeping accommodations, we were told to remove our clothing and were then sprayed to get rid of the lice. Before liberation, the bombing, seemed to be coming straight at me. Leaflets were also dropped saying that the Allies were close to where we were being held. I had been drafted and sent overseas on a troop carrier. My job was firing the mortars. But then I got sick and upon returning to duty was sent to the infantry. I asked him about being reassigned to Camp Edwards in Massachusetts after his leave. He said that wasn’t too bad an assignment because the war in Europe was over but there was a fear that we would be sent to serve in Japan where the war still raged. Early in this interview Mr. S. made it clear that he would answer my questions but only if his name was omitted from the article. His age? I figure late 80s. This interview was conducted in December 2012.