At the National Convention in Tacoma, WA last year a letter from a German historian was read to the group in the Stalag Luft IV gathering on Friday, September 26, 1997. He wanted information about the POW camp at St. Wendel, Germany. Since I was in the first contingent of troop sent to St. Wendel I wrote him a letter on October 27 and he responded on December 1, 1997. He enclosed an aerial photograph done in March 1945 by a USAAF Reconnaissance Unit. He wrote that "It's the only photo I was able to find from Stalag Luft VI in St. Wendel."
In the letter he asked a number questions which you might be able to help me answer. Here they are verbatim:
"You wrote about the air raids and alerts. Could you identify the type of planes that flew this raids? Had that been high altitude raids or low altitude? Did they attack your camp? Was the town defended against air raid? Was there any anti-aircraft-fire for, positions near your camp? During the raids how or where did you take shelter?
"How was your contact with your guards? How many guards had there been, any dogs? Did the Germans speak English? Do you remember names and/or ranks?
"The Highway you could see in the distance -- how far away was it and which direction belonging to the town? Can you remember special buildings in or outside the town, i.e. the big church in the middle of the town or the monastery to the east?
"You wrote about the Italians around camps. Did they work or live there? "Let me say again thank you for your help. And if you should meet Ex-Pows from St. Wendel, please, tell them best regards and say we are sorry not to know about them and their stay in our town.
Letter was from Roland Geiger - you may e-mail your answers directly to him at Rolgeiger@aol.com
While in Luft 4 I was challenged by the great possibilities of teaching music under difficult circumstances. Drawing staff lines on Cigarette wrappers was the entrance test to study music theory. A pump organ came into the compound on Nov. 22. Choir rehearsals were MWF at 1. Glee Club rehearsals were TTS at 1 and included the Catholic boys. They sang a group of football songs on program on Dec. 14. On Christmas eve the Glee Club sang in the middle of the compound at midnight and were heard by Chris Christiansen, YMCA representative, who was visiting at the time. A minstrel show was given Jan. 24-26. Starting in January a meeting was held every night in Barracks 1 in C Lager which included discussions, music appreciation hours, lectures, debates, spelling bees. and other activities. They were quite successful. The maarch put an end to all the good times we had in camp. We should concentrate more on the good times we had rather than the bad times during the march. While in camp I had a great time and learned a lot that helped me later in life. For one who had to "go down in flames" it was a great experience.