|Stalag VII A: Oral history|
Harry M. Lloyd
Conditions in Stalag VII A"My father Harry M. Lloyd was an American POW during World War II. He was captured in the Invasion of Southern France and then spent the rest of the war in Stalag VII A. He is now 80 years old. I talked with him on the telephone and told him that I had found pictures of Stalag VII A. He was glad to hear this. Thank you for the information you have on your website. It means a lot to him and to me.
Stalag VII A affected my father deeply. He had a hard time talking about his war experiences for many years. Now he thinks of them and talks of them frequently.
When my father was captured in France, he and the others in his outfit were lined up against a brick wall. They were about to be shot when a higher ranking German officer saw what was happening. He stopped the execution and ordered that they be taken to prison camp.
When my father was being brought into Stalag VII A, he carried a Bible his parents gave him. He had it in his shirt pocket under his army jacket. The German soldier who searched each man felt the Bible with his hand, smiled at my father and let him keep it.
As far as conditions go, dad tells me that each morning they would give them something that looked like coffee but wasn't coffee. This is what they would drink for breakfast, although they didn't know what it was. For lunch they would bring them soup that they called grass soup. They don't know what was in it. They speculated that they dragged a piece of lettuce through water and warmed it up. For supper they would give them 1/6 loaf of bread each along with 2 or 3 small baked potatoes. As a result, my father came out of the camp in such a condition that you could put your fingers around his waist, making a circle with both thumbs and middle fingers. My dad's nerve in his stomach was damaged by malnourishment. It took a while to recover from that.
They had bunks in their barracks, but they were full of lice and bugs. Every so often they would put them and their clothes through a delousing process, but then they would put their clothes back on them and send them back to the same bunks with the bugs and lice.
Dad doesn't remember being cold or mistreated in the camp, although once he did get the butt of a rifle in his back.
Every so often they would load the prisoners up on boxcars and ship them to Munich a few kilometers away. The boxcars were not warm and so they were very cold. They were loaded up like animals to fix railroads that had been damaged by allied bombings. In Munich they would also clean up debris from allied bombs that fell on buildings. They would get back soaked and cold.
Every so often they would get a half Red Cross package. The American Red Cross packages had more cigarettes (which didn't interest dad since he has never smoked). The Argentinian packages had more food so they looked forward to getting those.
I can remember as a little boy in the 1950s when dad would wake up screaming in the middle of the night. I think this came more from combat than from the prison."
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