Letters to a Lost Soldier: Daddy tells brothers about POW experience

 Dear Daddy,
(I originally wrote in June, 1945) I listened by the door when you told your brothers how the enemy captured you. “My commander sent me to the front line lookout post as a forward observer, like a scout, to report back what I saw. I was among replacements for soldiers previously captured by the enemy.
My buddy and I crawled to our assigned position and hunkered down in the empty foxhole. Later, we were surrounded by Germans aiming their rifles at us. It was a life or death situation because we were outnumbered. They stole my rifle, wallet, watch, rations and teeth.” “Your teeth!” Uncle Eddie shouted. “An Army dentist pulled several of my teeth and made two upper dental bridges for me.
The bridges were made in a hurry and didn’t fit properly. I had dental treatments at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, and Ft. Mead, Maryland, but they couldn’t get it right. I only put them in my mouth when eating. The bridges were in my pocket when the Germans cleaned out my pockets.
I couldn’t chew without my teeth, but had little food to eat that required chewing except for black bread mixed with sawdust that was inedible. We had rotten soup and didn’t get Red Cross packages until the last few months. By that time I was so hungry, I learned to bite and chew with my front teeth.”
“The Red Cross packages saved our lives when we got them. We shared – several men to a package. I traded my cigarettes for Bovril or bullion and that nourishment helped sustain my life.” “What happened after you were captured?” asked Uncle Bob. “Interrogation, but we only gave name, rank and serial number.
Then a train trip to Stalag 2A at Neubrandenberg, near the Polish border. They separated the Jews from the other POW’s and sent us to a Work Kommando, Zachow 92/VI, where we were ordered to cut down trees to repair bombed out railroad tracks. Guns were pointed at our heads all the time and one of us was beaten every day.
At first we didn’t know why we were removed from the Stalag and isolated in the Work Kommando. It didn’t take us long to figure out that we were all Jewish. The German Red Cross came into Stalag 2-A requiring us to fill out forms before receiving Red Cross packages. They said they needed to know our religion to provide proper burials, then told the Commandant who ordered us removed from the Camp.
The Jewish POW’s were not afforded POW protection under the Geneva Convention simply because we were Jewish.” “Hitler ordered all Jewish POW’s and then all POW’s executed. The guards were afraid to carry out Hitler’s orders because the Russians were coming from the East and the Allies from the West.
We told the guards they would hang for defying the Geneva Convention if they killed POW’s. We were running toward the West when the 7th Armored Division found us on May 3rd and our guards ran away. We were forced to march miles under armed guards when the Russians advanced from the East.
I was barely able to keep up at age 37, and it’s a miracle that I survived to tell my story.” “The POW’s took turns carrying Red Cross packages on two poles, like a stretcher. A buddy said my face turned ashen and my knees begin to buckle under me.
I staggered. He and another POW rushed over to me, took the poles from under my arms and two other buddies helped me stay on my feet until I could regain my breath, get a second wind and carry on alone. If I fell to the ground, the guards would have shot me dead and left my body in the road.
They were herding men like cattle. There was no time to stop for a rest.” I couldn’t listen any more without crying. It’s a miracle you came home alive, Daddy, and I am grateful to God, your buddies and the 7th Armored Division for rescuing you and saving your life.