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Experiencing War (Prisoners of War): Stories from the Veterans History Project

The Germans were hardly the genial hosts, whether you were a POW during World War I or World War II. There was severe punishment for escape attempts, there were meager rations and drafty bunkhouses, and there were irregular deliveries of packages from the Red Cross. Much of the ill treatment was based on deprivation; as World War II dragged on, it became clear to every POW that the Third Reich’s resources were being stretched thin, its attentions increasingly diverted from taking care of its prisoners. War’s end brought a curious reversal: Nazi prison guards begging to be taken in by their former captives, in fear of advancing and vengeful Russian troops..

Featured Story: Milton M. Stern
Image of Robet Powell

"Things I Must Do on Return Home. I. Get Married & Start Family. II. Try to get in touch with other members of my crew."

Milton Stern’s memoir of life in a German POW camp begins with a series of lists (Foods I Want to Eat, Books I Wish to Acquire), continues with vivid descriptions of his year in captivity, and concludes with poems he composed in the stalag. Here and in his video interview, he details his fears of being set apart from the other prisoners as a Jew, but by the time he was captured, the Germans appeared too distracted by the advancing Allies and Russians to worry about him.

Go to Violet Hill Gordon's StoryGo and experience
Milton M. Stern's story
Experience more Stories of POWs in Germany more stories

"Thanks for the memory/Of days we had to stay/In Stalag Luft 1-A/The cabbage stew that had to do/Till Red Cross Parcel day..."
-- Milton M. Stern

Aben S. Caplan's POW tag and manuscript - story

"The thought of ever becoming a prisoner of war had never previously entered my mind..."

Aben S. Caplan's story

Image of Donald Cassidy - story

"... saying, 'It'll never happen to me,' is so foolish."

Donald Cassidy's story

Image of Richard Hartman - story

"December 24. No food or water. Locked in all day. Sang carols and prayed."

Richard Hartman's story

Image of Orville J. Jackson  - story

"Some of the guys preferred a smoke to something to eat."

Orville J. Jackson's story

Image of Nathaniel Raley - story

"I hated to face the reality that I was about to undergo a drastic change in my 'life style'."

Nathaniel G. Raley's story

Image of Harold Riley - story

"It seems mine was the death room, each new patient brought in being very sick, no one surviving..."

Harold W. Riley's story

Image of Corbin Willis - story

" ...we were on our 22nd bomb mission ... only needed 25 to go home..."

Corbin B. Willis, Jr.'s story

  Home >> POWs in Germany
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  September 14, 2004
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