Friday, January 30, 2009

And after a few days

Tuesday - I will work to spell everything correctly. We visited Belaria first thing this morning. Jacek, the director of the museum, has been incredible showing us around and getting things in order for us to march. Mariann Leary's father was held in Belaria which is located about 3 km from the main camp. No one knows exactly where the barracks were located or if the barns that now exist were where the men were held. The photos should give you an idea of what it was like. I will upload them later.

We also visited the Bismarck water tower that was build in the 1800s. Very cool. See the photo. From this tower we came back to the prison camp and visited East compound. This was primarily a British or RAF camp. It housed approximately 1600 prisoners. It was the first compound with fewer barracks. From there we walked west to Center compound. This is the site of block 43 (compound), combine (room) 7 that housed my Uncle Vernon Burda and Jim Keeffe. The rooms were called combines as they merged their food resources that were limited. The men were then able to have better nutrition although continually meager. We saw the kitchen, fire pool, and stood where our loved ones once stood.

Zagan, Poland was once Sagan, Germany. It was first mentioned in 1202. Today it is a town of 50,000 people on the Bobr River, a tributary of the Odra River in Silesia. Astronomer Johannes Kepler, had an observatory here. Today you can visit the library with books from the 1200s. Kepler was the man that said our orbit was elliptical. Interesting that today we know that he is right. Silesia's sandy soil is the resource for many brick and glass factories in the area.

This group is the first American group to complete this march. The British bring a contingent every year. January 18-19 a group of RAF completed the march. We don't know the details and will find out so we can compare to our march.

Last night we left the museum at 11:00 and headed for the gate at South Compound. It was a great hike unlike that of our family members. We made good time and completed the 9.73 miles by 2:30. Nine miles was relatively easy. Up relatively early, we left for Przewoz (Priebus in German). By the time we had marched a few kilometers into Itowa, visited a grade and middle school and hit the road, it was late. We are the first Americans to visit the school.

Wednesday - Prewoz. We finished our time on the road by 7PM and had completed 18.79 miles. It was grueling and sleep didn't come soon enough. I for one was very sore. Please remember that the South Compound had marched straight through to Bad Muscau with rest stops but no overnight stays. It is unimaginable to me how they could have done that, however those of us honoring our relatives are over 50. Considering that we have done quite well.

Thursday - Today, after visiting another school, we left Priebus and walked approximately 14 miles to Bad Muscau. Here the prisoners were held at several factories in and near the city. The prisoners were able to rest for 2-3 days dependent on the compound you called home at Luft III. Physically, it was a great day on roads near fields and forests. There was little traffic and perfect temperature. It was 30ยบ F, no wind. I changed my shoes and was grateful. The POWs didn't have this option and many had inferior shoes and clothes. My "Great Coat" has been a blessing as have my wool pants, shirt and Eisenhower jacket.

Tomorrow we walk approximately 15 miles to Spremberg. The men were put in 40/8 train cars (40 men/8 horses) and were shipped south. We will go south by bus. We will finish our march and will head south.

1 comment:

wildliz said...

Dear Val & Jerry, you look cold but good and vital! The landscape is so bleak and gray but your spirits and the reliving of history is great! You're on the Sheridan radio every few mornings. Keep on Truckin' Save travels.