Thursday, January 29, 2009

End of Day 3, Jan. 29

The nine miles the first night was NOTHING compared to the 18+ miles we marched on Wednesday. My feet felt like I'd been dancing with a large man for several hours. But that, in turn, was NOTHING compared to how they feel tonight after another 14+ miles! Ground beef comes to mind...
Read more and see a video of the children at the school in Ilowa that we visited, and a panorama of the barns at Grosselten...

Tuesday night we marched from Stalag Luft III to Ilowa, Poland. Wednesday we marched 18+ miles from Ilowa to Priebus, Poland. Today we marched 14+ miles from Priebus, Poland to Bad Muskau, Germany. I can't tell you how good it felt to cross that river and know we had finished the day's march!

The weather has not been bad - the first night was about 20 degrees fahrenheit, but on Wednesday and Thursday is was about 28 or 30 degrees fahrenheit. Today, we marched the 14+ miles in weather that was, again, clear, but was about 30 degrees fahrenheit all day. Our fathers were not so fortunate. 1945 was the coldest winter on record for years and the first night and part of the next day was bitterly cold, with six inches of snow on the ground, winds, and with some groups of POWs experiencing additional snow as they walked. The only thing we may have had worse then our fathers - age! They were predominantly in their twenties and early thirties, while we are all in our 50s and 60s. They had the advantage of youth, but were definitely malnourished after their stay at SLIII.

The second day we visited an elementary school in Ilowa, Poland, prior to our march. The children were wonderful, and we were treated to tea and cakes, listened to the children singing and toured the school. Today we visited another school that housed both elementary and high school students. We toured the school, the grounds, visited a classroom and played volleyball with some of the students. We also visited a classroom where they were dancing, and several of our more adventurous members (George, Marilyn and Evelyn) did a little swing dancing for the students. Val mimed "crazy Americans" and the students grinned in agreement. :o) The Polish people have been wonderful!

In addition to the marching, we have toured some of the barns and churches our fathers slept in along the route, and we plan to visit some of the factories in Bad Muskau. We're sleeping in Gasthaus Schlossbrunner tonight. The best hotel yet!

I've posted more pictures at: SLIII Trip Photos

Here's a video of the children at Ilowa, Poland:

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