|Stalag VII A: Oral history|
Work in the post office"I have only recently become a member of the American Ex-POW organization and more recently yet have discovered your Web site. As a POW at Moosburg from the later months of 1944 until liberated in the spring of 1945, I worked in the camp's post office on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. On Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, as a non commissioned officer, I would ride the boxcars into Munich to relieve some Private of six day, unrelenting duty.
I was surprised to learn from your Stalag VII A map that there were such things as a women's camp, a Red Cross building or office, a theater, a sports field and other amenities which we never saw.
I was, of course, housed with other American and British prisoners, all enlisted men (as opposed to officers), and was able to work a few days each week in the post office. The man in charge was (dare I say this) a, kind, elderly gentleman. We prisoners had a pet name for him. We called him pea brain, and he never objected, even though I believe he spoke enough English to understand. For my part, at least, it was not meant to be insulting. It was a feeble attempt to let him know that we understood that he was just doing his job, as we were doing ours.
We stayed busy sorting incoming letters to the prisoners and getting them ready for delivery by someone we never saw. The job helped pass the long hours of waiting for our fate to be determined.
On other days of the week, when not on postal duty, I would volunteer for a work detail to the city of Munich. My bunkmate, a private in the US infantry, was a very large young man, unable to stand the long hours, the lack of rations and the rigors of daily trips into the city. Whenever he sorely needed a day of rest I, (a Staff Sergeant in the US infantry, not required to work), would take his place. In that way I got to meet all kinds of civilian German citizens whom I found, by and large, to be very much like the folks I had left back home. What a sad time in the history of both of our countries.
Finally, on a Sunday morning, April 29, 1945, we heard a loud explosion, sounding very much like a 105 mm tank gun. Sure enough, a US tank rolled through the camp, right down the main road, US GIs hanging from it, M-1 rifles waving in the air. We had just been liberated and I'll never forget that day.
The next day, being free to move about the camp, I went again toward the post office to see if I could find out what the loud explosion had been. The post office had been hit with that 105 mm shell and one wall was completely blown away. There was mail, both incoming and outgoing, scattered all over the place and the little table, where two if us worked side by side sorting mail, was shattered. Had those liberation troops been delayed by one day, I probably wouldn't be here today, writing this summary of events. The fortunes of war!
I have read other accounts of liberation day, some reporting small arms fire and even aircraft in the area, but I remember hearing none of that. I'm not sure, at this late date, whether these events occurred or not. I do know that we never saw another German guard nor any German personnel from that moment forward. I assume they were all taken prisoner.
Speaking of the fact that we never again saw any German personnel, neither did we see any American personnel. There were no food deliveries, no mail deliveries, no red cross parcels, no informational meetings nor any sign of when and how we might be sent home. This went on for an entire week, and, believe me, food was becoming a major concern. At this point, I and another friend, (my bunk mate was by then too weak to travel), left camp and ventured into the little town of Moosburg. Our experiences there, the people we met and our eventual trip to the coast of France is another story which I'm not sure I should relate. Perhaps at some later time ..."
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