Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Moosburg to Journey's End

On Monday, we arrived in Moosburg to find that the museum director and news reporters were expecting us on Tuesday. Fortunately, Karin Alt, one of the reporters, showed up and kindly translated for the director, Mr. Kerscher. Mr. Kerscher had been a young boy during the war and he still had vivid memories of Stalag VII-A and Patton's liberation of the camp. In the following video, he shared some information on the Red Cross parcels that were delivered to the prisoners.

Moosburg was a quaint little town with a beautiful church (see pictures) that is in very good shape. We all shopped at an open-air market after touring the church and then moved on to see the museum. Mr. Kerscher kindly gave each family that represented a POW held at Moosburg, a commemorative mug, and a book and copied handout on the camp. The museum, though small, is quite good with wonderful artifacts from Moosburg's early history and quite a bit from Stalag 7-A. They even had one of the wooden ships made by the Kriegies and one of the clandestine radios.

After touring the museum, we rode the bus out to the area where Stalag 7-A was located. There are still three barracks remaining, but sadly, they are destined to be torn down later this year. I wish there were funds available to restore one of them! They are stucko'd buildings with the original shutters, which have since been painted in bright colors. The area is low-income housing and the barracks house several apartments. A few of us entered to take pictures down the hall but were quickly ushered out by the translator who cautioned us to respect the residents' privacy (whoops!).

We said our good-byes to Mr. Kerscher and Karin Alt and drove on to Munich, tired but feeling that we had closure for the experience. Mr. Kerscher had described horrendous conditions at the camp in the last few months, with gross over-crowding. My father had arrived there just four days prior to Patton's liberation and he described being in the last tent and having only a shoe's-width between the men's bed rolls. I thank God that he didn't have to endure the situation long. In his memoirs, he is quick to describe the indomitable spirit of the Kriegies. He described a trip to the latrines where he saw the sign:

"Please do not throw cigarette butts into the latrines - it renders them almost un-smokable!"

After visiting the barracks site at Moosburg, we drove on to Munich for the last night of our trip. We had a German dinner and turned in, warn-out and ready for an early flight home the next morning.

We have made friends that we'll keep for life. We've walked (100 kilometers!) in our fathers' footsteps and seen the places they saw. We will never know the hardships they endured, but we have a greater appreciation for what they endured. To explain the motivation of our fathers, my father ended his memoirs with the following, quite appropriate quote from the 13th century Dominican friar, philosopher and theologian St. Thomas Aquinas:

"Those who wage war justly aim at peace... we go to war that we may have peace."

See updated pictures at: Forced March Trip Pictures

1 comment:

G-man said...

Thanks for your articles and pictures that record your trip. I'm looking forward to sharing everything with my Dad who is a SLIII kriegie.

Gary Hill