World War II prisoner of war camp - Stalag Luft I

The POW Stories


World War II - Prisoners of War - Stalag Luft I 

A collection of stories, photos, art and information on Stalag Luft I

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This page contains a collection of true short stories written by POWs detailing their experiences during World War II, before and after their being shot down and imprisoned.   Some will make you laugh and some will make you cry.  In reading these you are struck by the incredible and horrific experiences of so many in the war and the common exhibition of tremendous personal valor. They are the stories of brave young men who defeated their fear and then defeated the cause of their fear.


The kitchen crew at Stalag Luft I - WW2 German POW Camp Honor Bound -  Jack Moskowitz's very moving story about the bonds of friendships lasting a lifetime by World War II aircrews flying bombing missions over enemy territory.


Stalag Luft I POW

The German Prison Camp Violin and Clair Cline

 The Prison Camp Violin -  Photo and story-- Clair Cline carved it of rough-hewn bed slats with a penknife traded for Red Cross rations. But would it play?  Every POW at Stalag Luft I during WWII remembers this violin and knew this story - truly inspirational - you will be amazed!  

Stalag Luft I POW

Then and now photos of WWII fighter pilots

Prune Face and The Brow   - Don't miss this one!   It is a haunting yet inspiring tale of how four flying school classmates came to meet again in prison camp. And how two of them teamed up to face and conquer with humor and guts the terrible injuries each had suffered during World War II.  

Stalag XIII-D, Nürnberg and Stalag VII-A POW

The Bet at Barth - Stalag Luft I prisoner of war camp

The Bet at Barth - Many bets were made on when WWII would be over.  This is a true story about a bet that every POW at Stalag Luft I on Christmas Day 1944 remembers!  It brought hysterical laughter at a much needed time and place.


Stalag Luft I

WWII POW photo of Kenny Williams and his "Murder Inc." jacket

The Saga of Murder, Inc. - A German Propaganda Victory -  Kenneth D. Williams ( a Stalag Luft I POW)  was shot down over Germany during WWII wearing a flight jacket with “Murder, Inc.” written on the back.  The Germans made much propaganda out of this. This is his story taken from the U.S. Air Force Oral History Program.


Stalag Luft I POW

World War II Prisoner of war identification photo of Aaron Kuptsow

Dr. Aaron Kuptsow  the "Mickey Man" (radar navigator) on the plane with Dad when they were shot down shares in this very interesting and well written narrative his memories of their final mission, his capture, interrogation, experience as a Jewish prisoner of war in Hitler's WWII Germany, the liberation of the camp by the Russians and the joyful celebration upon his return to his family in the USA.

Stalag Luft I POW

Lt. Elroy F. Wyman - World War II POW killed at Stalag Luft I

2nd Lt. Elroy F. Wyman - was shot and killed by a German guard at Stalag Luft I on March 18, 1945.  Here is a sketch and a brief bio made by his former roommate.  The story behind this tragic killing is told.




Stalag Luft I POW

WW2 Memorial in France for Black Swan B-17 crew

The Death of the Black Swan - This is what we in Stalag Luft I called a "horror story". Each of the 9000 prisoners there had a horror story to tell.  Experiencing the "horror" of being shot from the sky was the universal prelude, the rite of passage if you will, to our incarceration by Verne Woods.


Stalag Luft I POW

Col. Zemke and Major Manierre boxing at the POW camp

Major Cyrus Manierre - This is one of the stranger stories of luck and coincidence to come out of WW2.  An OSS agent (spy and saboteur) who manages to convince the Germans he is a downed airman after his capture and is sent to Stalag Luft I.  He finds a BIG surprise when he arrives at the camp.  While in the camp he works as Lt. Col. Gabreski adjutant and then finds himself the lucky winner of the random drawing to box with Col. Zemke after liberation while awaiting their evacuation!

Stalag Luft I POW

A Wartime Log - Robert Swartz WWII POW diary

A Wartime Log  -  A complete copy of Robert Swartz's YMCA issued diary, which he used to write a continuous letter to his parents describing everything about the POW camp and his life there.  Included are drawings, poetry, roommate listing and the complete Easter sermon given by
Rev. H. A. M. Mitchell in the POW camp in 1945, shortly before the end of World War II and their liberation by the Russians.

Stalag Luft I POW

Wright photos of his WWII Prisoner of war experience

Mission 59 1/2 This is storytelling at its best by Phil Wright!!!    An extremely interesting and entertaining story about a WWII fighter pilot whose life has come full circle since that fateful day in 1945 when he became a prisoner of war.  It proves that life can still be astounding even at the age 76.  Wright, a lusty, crusty, fun-loving retired Air Force pilot, was recently reunited with his old plane-or at least parts of it: pieces of windshield, some engine parts, a couple of 50 caliber bullets - thanks to an extraordinary set of coincidences and a young German man with a metal detector.


Stalag XIII-D, Nürnberg and Stalag VII-A

The Passion Pit going down - note white dots (parachutes)

The Newspaper Boy in Dulag Luft - Irwin Stovroff  flying as navigator on The Passion Pit during World War II,  was shot down on his last mission (35th).  He receives a HUGE surprise when he learns his German interrogator at Dulag Luft had once been his neighbor in Buffalo, NY and he had been his newspaper boy!

Stalag Luft I POW

Bert Markle - World War II POW and escapee

Escape from Stalag Luft I -  a fascinating true story of Bert Markle's  escape from Stalag Luft I with two other POWs during World War II,  their recapture the following day and their imprisonment in a Gestapo prison for 3 weeks prior to being sent to Stalag Luft III.  

Stalag Luft I & Stalag Luft III POW

North 2 Compound guys at Stalag Luft I during World War II

Bruce Bockstanz -  Highlights of Life - excerpts from letters to and from Bruce during the years 1940 thru 1945.  From his carefree civilian college days to enlistment in the Army Air Corps training as a navigator on a B-17, then it's off to England and the air war in Europe, to life as a prisoner of war in World War II Germany.

Stalag Luft I POW

Drawing by B Arct - From his book "Prisoner of War My Secret Journal"

Good Buddy Goes For Good Cause -  Wherever you are, Good Buddy, Bill White’s got a confession.   He ate your cat about 56 years ago!  It was during WWII and what U.S. Prisoners of War in Germany’s Stalag Luft I called ‘Hungry March’.  The Red Cross parcel supply had stopped and the prisoners of war were trying to exist on just the extremely meager German rations. They were indeed literally starving to death in the camp.

Stalag Luft I POW

A German guard in escape tunnel at Stalag Luft I with flashlight

The Great Escape (Almost) - “The rest of us peered through cracks in the blackout shutters and saw the head digger begin to emerge. About that time, the guard in the tower 50 feet from the barracks began playing his searchlight up and down the fence line. As he reversed it, the beam swept across our man just as he stood up. The light wavered past him, then came back and fully caught him…”

Stalag Luft I POW

The Russians arrive at Stalag Luft I at the end of WWII


The Coming of the Russians
  In April, 1945, we awakened every morning to a tremendous, though distant, artillery barrage to the East and Southeast of Barth. We knew that Marshall Rokassofsy’s First Ukrainian Army was attacking across Northern Germany and was getting closer by the day. Our spirits rose at the prospect of being liberated soon.  The German guards were increasingly nervous, and a bit more friendly than they had been.

Stalag Luft I POW

Verne Woods WWII  B-17 Crew photo

 Remembering Stuart Mendelsohn - Most young American males in 1941 saw the attack on Pearl Harbor not as a National calamity but as an appreciated transition. Adventure was promised. That promise could best be realized, so I reasoned, as a pilot in the US Army Air Corps. Soon after Pearl Harbor, I took a battery of tests, passed, and on April 1, 1942, was sworn into Army Air Corps as an Aviation Cadet.  At an airbase near Blythe, California, I was introduced to the Boeing B-17 and to my combat crew.

Stalag Luft I POW

One cold night and a rosary

One Cold Night and a Rosary - A Stalag 4B POW tells of an encounter with a kind German guard and a rosary.  For thirteen years, I had thought I had lost it. I had almost forgotten it and the incident that brought it into my possession. Yet, there it was, and with it the memory of the one cold night and a rosary.

World War II B-24 plane crash photo

Chuck Blaney shares his very interesting story of being shot down by a ME-262 while bombing a target near Hamburg.  He and his crew were recently reunited at a 50th anniversary reunion celebration set up by a German who saw the bomber crash while he was serving in the Hitler Youth Corps.

Stalag Luft I POW

Mark Altvater - WWII B-26 pilot

Mark Altvater - The truck arrived after dark and we were all in the hall near the door when I saw Schneider (the German guard)  in the background.  I went over to him and took off my gun belt and holster and gave them to him  and told him to give these to his grandsons as souvenirs.  He said Mark do not try to escape and his eyes were full of tears.  I think he looked upon me as a little boy, sometimes prone to be naughty.

Stalag Luft I POW

A WWII German Nightfighter squadron #1./NJG6

Attack on the Run - Ted Ansfield, an RAF Pathfinder Force Observer, was shot down by a Bf 110 nightfighter (see photo on left of a nightfighter briefing) on the night of 26/27 November 1943, on his 16th mission (his 5th one on Berlin).  Only the rear gunner and Ted escaped.  After six days of evading he was captured and sent to the interrogation center and then to Stalag Luft 1.  Ted recounts his evasion in this story.

Stalag Luft I POW

A view from Stalag Luft I by Charles Early

Charles L. Early From his YMCA Log Book.  His story and wonderful, colorful drawings detailing his experiences as a Stalag Luft I German POW during World War 2.

Stalag Luft I POW


John Kirkham - World War II navigator in the US Army Air Corps

John Kirkham - A WWII bombardier / navigator with the 379th BG.  While flying on his 35th mission he crash lands in a muddy field after his plane is hit by flak.  He is captured and sent to solitary confinement at Dulag Luft then off to Stalag Luft I - North III Compound.  Photos, telegrams, letters from War Department, documents and excerpts from his YMCA diary. 

Stalag Luft I POW

USAAF World War II Medal of Honor recipient dishes hot water in the prisoner of war camp

John "Red" Morgan - Congressional Medal of Honor  must be the only draft-classified 4-F to serve with the air forces of three nations, fly 26 combat missions with the RAF and the USAAF, earn our country's highest decoration for valor, and spend 14 months as a Prisoner of War.  This tough, tenacious Texan was a truly an American Hero.

Stalag Luft I POW

A guard tower at Stalag Luft I

The Last German Soldier at Stalag Luft One  I've often wondered if others in North Compound One who witnessed the scene that I describe here remember it as I still do, a sadly dissonant note to the joy of liberation -  by Verne Woods.

Stalag Luft I POW

Bruce Bockstanz prisoner of war photo ID card

From the Wild Blue Yonder to Kreigesgefangerenlager (POW Camp) -   Bruce Bockstanz's details his bail-out, evasion on the ground, capture, beating, and transport to Dulag Luft.

Diary of Lt. Bruce K. Bockstanz – Stalag Luft I -  Bruce's personal notes on his life in the POW camp  thru the evacuation to Camp Lucky Strike at LeHarve, France awaiting a trip home via a "liberty ship"  Covers the dates 3/8/45 thru 6/24/45

Stalag Luft I POW

Lt. Col. Luther Richmond - WWII Eagle squadron

"Jackpot" over Vechta - "His tracers looked like red golf balls coming up, and normally I would have zigged and zagged a bit so that he would miss. On that day however, the temptation was too great and I held my aim steady as I could see my tracers hitting the flak site. I felt the ship get hit, and almost immediately a tongue of flame licked back from around my feet and burned my hands quite badly. ‘You're on fire Colonel!’ my element leader radioed."    by Luther Richmond

Stalag Luft I POW

Lt. Verne Woods - World War 2 B-17 pilot and POW

The Greatest Generation Reunites - Verne Woods walked away from Stalag Luft I before the B-17s arrived to evacuate everyone. Just one of his 15 roommates joined him on the trip to the British Lines.    Tom Brokaw's  "The Greatest Generation Speaks" book recently led to him finding that roommate more than 50 years later.

Stalag Luft I POW

Helping German woman on the ground after bombing attack during world war 2.

E-mail and the Terrorflieger  - On the Internet newsgroup,, World War II battles are refought, the FW-190 and the Zero face off in imaginary dogfights and the Sherman, Tiger and T-34 tanks compete again for engineering supremacy. Recently, when the forum took up the subject of the best WWII TV documentaries, Verne Woods joined the discussion with this:

Stalag Luft I POW

A World War II  B-24 crew

Alvin Millspaugh  -  the co-pilot of a B-24 in the 15th Air Force,  shares a story of his "scenic" tour of Europe after being shot down on his 5th mission.  He also shares his diary entry on the "Day of Days" - May 1st - the liberation day for the POWs at Stalag Luft I.

Stalag Luft I POW

Briefing of fighter pilots during World War II

Horror Story - A World War II P-47 fighter pilot. Caleb Reeder, tells a true "horror story" which results in his imprisonment at Stalag Luft I.  After enduring beatings by a mob of angry citizens, the simple statement  " Roosevelt made me" seems to have saved him from a lynching party.  This story originally told in the book "Behind Barbed Wire" by Morris J. Roy.  Photos supplied by his son.

Stalag Luft I POW

William F. Miller - Kriegie # 6145 Stalag Luft I prisoner of war

A Letter To My Grandchildren - Bill Miller is quite the story-teller.  In this excerpt from his book, A Letter To My Grandchildren, he details his World War II experiences. His final mission, capture, several visits to German air-raid shelters while a POW,  Dulag Luft, and finally life at Stalag Luft 1.  He recounts many humorous POW "tales" and was actually present at Col. Spicer's famous speech.  Bill even managed to slip Col. Spicer some fudge while Spicer was in the cooler awaiting execution after his German court-martial.  

Stalag Luft I POW

Combat Crew in World War II

Charles "Tip" Clark - A World War II B-24 Engineer and Gunner shot down on December 11, 1944 on his 20th mission shares his military memoirs. He, like my Dad, didn't wait to be evacuated but rather left the camp after the liberation and made his way back to Allied territory by rowing a boat, walking, hitch-hiking with Russian troops, and riding with German civilians fleeing the oncoming Russians.

Stalag Luft I POW


Piggyback B-17's

Piggyback Hero-  by Ralph Kenney Bennett.  ,  If you had seen Glen Rojohn on the street he would probably have looked to you like so many other graying, bespectacled old World War II veterans whose names appear so often now on obituary pages.

But like so many of them, though he seldom talked about it, he could have told you one h*ll of a story. He won the Air Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross and the Purple Heart all in one fell swoop in the skies over Germany on December 31, 1944. Fell swoop indeed.


Stalag Luft I POW


Sometimes I think we live in a world so obsessively devoted to looking forward that it frequently forgets to take the time to look back. But some of our best stories reside in our wake, and I suspect, no matter how harsh these stories are, they help tell us much about where we are heading.
        John Katzenbach, Hart's War (S. 551)

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This site created and maintained by Mary Smith and Barbara Freer, daughters of Dick Williams, Jr.