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American
Ex-POW List of
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Stalag XVII-B
List of Officers


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DULAG LUFT
STALAG XVII-B
Inside XVII-B
 Stalag 17b in History

Stalag XVII-B
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(02/08/06)
Mystery Man of Stalag XVII-B

 

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Life of a POW

You live in a barbed wire world, day in and day out. Days turn into weeks, then months, and years. Roll call (apell) in the morning. Then black tea, and black bread. Roll call at noon. Some kind of  greasy soup for lunch. Roll call at night. Then more cabbage soup at night, and a ration of bread, and you hear somebody throwing up in their bunk. Not enough light to read at night. Nothing much to read, anyway, so you read that last letter you got last month from home. Home. I wonder what they are thinking. Dadís probably listening to the radio to see if there is anything new about us over here. Momís probably praying.

During WW II, the Allied Countries and Germany participated with the Geneva Convention and the International Red Cross - Japan did not
                  
                   Most of us who were prisoners of war in Europe were more fortunate than those who were captured by the Japanese. There were some exceptions, however. Russian prisoners in German Prison Camps, without question, were treated much more harshly than others who fought with the Allied forces. (Russia was not a member of the Convention, but under the Convention rules, that should not have mattered. but it did.). The German military was very rank conscious. Officers generally were kept at Offlags, and received better treatment, better food, and better housing. Enlisted personnel were housed in Stalags. The non-commissioned officers (Sergeants and up) were not required to work, but the corporals and privates were.
                   Over 130,000 Americans were prisoners of war in WWII and were in dozens of POW Camps in Europe. For the average American interned in these camps, living conditions were similar. For those who tried to escape, and those who were on lengthy forced marches, or who were trouble makers for the Germans, it was a different story, for example,
after my crewmate, Bob and I had escaped from a prison train, and were recaptured after fourteen days, we were first put in a civilian jail, then into solitary confinement in something that resembled an old French Bastille. This happened about a month after we were shot down, around the middle of May, 1943. It was so dark that it was difficult to tell if it was day or night. The only sounds I heard were the ravings of a Scottish prisoner in the next cell, who had been there since Dunkerk, or when some guard shoved a can of warm soup or tea, and a piece of bread, or potato up the same trough that I used to relieve myself.
          The place was filled with lice. I had sores and scabs all over my body. I could not urinate when I awoke unless I removed a scab from my private part...When I was taken out, the sun almost blinded me..
One day they took my shoes and chained my legs together. Then two guards showed up with my friend, and crewmate, Bob Hansen. We were taken to a train station where we had to wait for hours while civilians would scowl at the two
Luftgangsters  from America.         
          Two days later we were dropped off at Stalag VII-A in Mooseburg - not too far from Munich - Bavaria, Germany.
Finally, I thought,  we will get to see some of our guys. No such luck.
          They threw us into the
Detention Barracks with about 200 half starved Russians. Iíll never, never forget the horrible stench of decayed flesh that was in that barracks. There was not enough room for everyone to lay down at the same time. We took turns. Fleas and lice were fed better than these two Americans and 200 Russians. The Germans permitted us to spend an hour a day outdoors in a triple barbed wire fenced in area. One day two guards got into it with two older Russians in the wash room. More guards came pouring into the barracks and dragged the two Russians into the yard...Somehow, the wounded Russians got away and crawled under the barracks...More guards came with two German Shepherd dogs, and they went under the barracks after the men. We never got the whole story on what happened. We heard the dogs growling, then yelping, then some shooting.
          And this was to be our home for the next six weeks P.S. 
One day while it was my turn to go outside, a group of American soldiers who were captured in Africa were walking under guard past our fence...I noticed one had a medical insignia... Quickly I tried to explain about my problem with my scabÖ"I donít know if this will do it. But give it a try," and he tossed me a small can of sulfur ointment.

        
It worked. 

 

 

By Roy Livingstone

 

_ PART-II