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American POW's held at Berchtesgaden

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Clipped Wing
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2009/04/04 12:35:08 (permalink)
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American POW's held at Berchtesgaden

My father in law was a POW at Stalag Luft III, Sagan. He was there just over a year. He tells of being on a forced march to a place with "3 levels", a compound used by Hitler, where he and a handful of fellow POW's were being used as "human shields" to keep the Allies from attacking the place. He was marched in a pleasant time of the year, not the winter. He does not recall being put on a train.  I feel he was not at Moosburg but rather somewhere near Berchtesgaden.  While there in a meadow like area surrounded by a fence with some kind of shack nearby and what he says was a "makeshift" dirt road leading there, an American tank blew the gate off and liberated the guys. He recalls being put on a truck and riding east toward France for most of the day. I think this may have been to the Cigarette Camps.
If this sounds familiar to anyone, please respond with any suggestions or questions.We are trying to piece together this portion of his life and provide as accurate a memoir while he is still able.
Thank You
Yunch
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Re:American POW's held at Berchtesgaden 2009/04/04 13:55:25 (permalink)
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Sagan Luft III was located northeast of Dresden, Germany and West of Poland, and north of Czechoslovakia. Berchtesgaden is way south of Munich, (have been there) just north of Austria. Hitler's lair set high atop the Alps one road access call this the third tier. The Waffen SS barracks and other homes, buildings etc, were on a much lower level, 2nd tier?, and below that a small village, 1st tier?. I dont question what or were the Germans used US POWs. I am curious as to how you came to the possibility of the gentleman in question being at Berchtesgaden. West of Berchtesgaden is Switzerland with France on the west of it. Further north France is west of Germany.   

Fair Winds and Following Seas,   John
GM 3/C USS Snowden DE246--Frost DE144

Kin to LT. John W. Farnkopf  
15th AF, 52 FG, 4th FS
MIA 11/11/44 remains found 12/8/53
"Freedom is not free, it is paid for" 
Clipped Wing
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Re:American POW's held at Berchtesgaden 2009/04/05 02:41:48 (permalink)
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Here is how we came up with Berchtesgaden.  My father in law, John, was interned at Stalag Luft 3 and the only proof I have is , of course, his word and because the USAF Academy Library in Colorado, whom I contacted after being amazed by reading their Stalag Luft 3 website (Google), sent me a copy of a page from the roll of US officers held there. His name was on the list and a notation: C June 26, 1943. I assume this was when he was captured. All the other guys on the list had their name, age, squadron, some had the particular mission listed, the plane they were in, etc.
All it said was LAST, John A    C June 26, 1943   and only  "P" under aircraft.  Well it was a "P"-51.  And a "ME" that shot him down.  John must have been messed up when they brought him in or else he was so pissed he didnt talk to anybody because that is all the POW info we have so far. 
Now, John and I talk weekly. He knows I am really into this and he enjoys telling me about it. Some guys lived it. I can only dream about it- and research it.  I showed him all the documentation I have about Luft 3. Showed him Pictures. I read him first hand accounts and asked him (with all patience and respect) questions. We talk until I feel him getting a little tired then we wrap it up and talk about other things for awhile. Then I go home.
I told him about Moosburg. Never heard of it. Well maybe he heard of it but the march he went on was definately not in the winter. It was in the spring or the fall. He says he marched for 3 days but was never put on a train.
You have been to theEagles Nest. I'm sure you know where Sagan is. Could it have taken 3 days to walk to Berschtesgaden from Sagan? Could it take 3 days to walk ALL the way to VIIA with no train? I dont know. Regretfully I have never been there though I do have family in Prague.
John tells me the place he was marched to was a compound belonging to Schickelgruber. sp? He says he was used as what call a "human shield" to prevent the Allies from firing on the place.   He describes it as a place with 3 levels. He says he ans a half dozen other POWs were kept I think he said in front of the place in a fenced in meadow nearly the size of a football field. He describes some kind of wooden shack or outbuilding and a "make shift"dirt road as having access to it.  They were just living in this field when one day he heard what he thought was the squeaking of tank treads. Sho nuff it was a tank. They hollered that they were Americans and they better get out of the way. He tells of the turret going around, looking over the place and BOOM! They blew the gate off the fenced in area/ I dont know what kind of fence, what kind of gate, how far from the buildings it was or anything.  Yet.  This weekend I will be taking over some circa post cards and pictures, Military pictures after we bombed the place and all the Nazi Generals homes, and some aerial recon photos.  I hope it blows him away if this was the place. If it is it will surely blow me away!
After our guys let him out of what used to be the gate, they fed and watered him and put him on a truck. He recalls driving nearly a whole  day. East. Towards France. From what I have been able to gather, it probably was to Lucky Strike. (what my dad used to smoke, US Navy Korea) He tells me it was a "safe" place.  He told me he and the guys he was with would stuff their pockets with food whenever they got the chance.
Finally the chef, or cook, or whomever, sat the guys down and told them, "You guys dont have to hide food any more. In fact, you can eat and drink whatever you want. Whatever time you want. Day or night."  That really made an impact with him. I'm feeling it right now just writing about it.
I know he sailed back to Ellis Island. I am working my way to finding out from what port. Even what ship if I can.  I have been searching all week, measuring distaces, looking at maps and pictures just trying to determine if he was at Berchtesgaden, or maybe where the Nazi party held the rallys (I cant think of the name right now) or just where.
John even thought he may have been somewhere in Northern Italy. I didnt tell that couldnt be right. I will tell him, if I can beyond a reasonable doubt, just where he was and how he got there when I find out. Back to the train... the only train he has expressed being on over there was the train that took him from where he was captured to a hospital somewhere in  Northern Italy.
 
I havent had time yet to try and find out which hospital it could have been but I have contacted the Intl Red Cross about a month ago and have not heard anything yet.  Hell, it's been hard enough just trying to get his military records because of the fire and all.  I hate to say it, but outside of the Air Force Academy Library Special Collections Group (mucho props to Dr Mary Elizabeth Ruwell, Douglas Johnson, and John Beardsley, and all that came before) and my own hard work (labor of love actually) most of the documentation I have found came from the Germans!  Now if they would only fish John's P-51 out of the sea, clean it up, and send it to me I would really have something. I'll attach some pictures and files next time.
 
Hey man. Thanks to all involved in this form for letting me rant. Hopefully it just may spark something with somebody and we can find out, as Paul Harvey used to say, "The Rest of the Story"
I'm out.
Yunch
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Re:American POW's held at Berchtesgaden 2009/04/05 08:27:39 (permalink)
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Dan,
The kicker here is "going east to France" at his age, direction may be a confusion. When I reach his age, I will have to keep my drivers license by the night stand in case I get a phone call durring the night, I can check it to verify who I am. Sagen is a looong way from Berchtesgaden. A fair/bad guess is about 450 kilometers from Sagen to Berchtesgaden. this equates to roughly 270 miles. They would have had to march 90 miles a day. Chances are he was shipped back from La Harve France, (my guess). He would have passed Ellis Island, and the Statue of Liberty, docked at or near pier 92. This part is iffy, he may have been processed through Camp Kilmer, NJ. which is about a half hour train ride from NY City. As to the name of the ship bringing him back to the US, all records were ordered destroyed in 1953. There have been people trying to compile new records and if you find the date he left France you can go from there. 
Good luck in your search

Fair Winds and Following Seas,   John
GM 3/C USS Snowden DE246--Frost DE144

Kin to LT. John W. Farnkopf  
15th AF, 52 FG, 4th FS
MIA 11/11/44 remains found 12/8/53
"Freedom is not free, it is paid for" 
susank
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Re:American POW's held at Berchtesgaden 2009/04/05 10:07:02 (permalink)
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Greetings -
 
Your father-in-law is listed on the roster of POWs at Stalag Luft III in the Center Compound.  The listing includes his rank, serial number and home address.
 
Nothing about your father's story would surprise me.  The men may forget names and dates, but they will never forget the emotions and the memories of places and events.
 
I'll look around for you.
 
Susan
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Re:American POW's held at Berchtesgaden 2009/04/06 02:16:22 (permalink)
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Stalag Luft 3 - Escape tunnel Harry's exit is located here:- http://maps.google.com/...&z=14&iwloc=addr
Yunch
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Re:American POW's held at Berchtesgaden 2009/04/06 07:55:15 (permalink)
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I found my book on "Obersalzberg" Hitler's Lair near Berchtesgaden. The RAF bombed the daylights out of all the buildings (of which there were many), the early part of April 1945 thinking that Adolph was there. Had the gentleman in question been liberated from there earlier, the RAF would not have bombed it.
Keep in mind that Hitler had lesser known retreats such as one of his headquarters in Prussia, now Poland.

Fair Winds and Following Seas,   John
GM 3/C USS Snowden DE246--Frost DE144

Kin to LT. John W. Farnkopf  
15th AF, 52 FG, 4th FS
MIA 11/11/44 remains found 12/8/53
"Freedom is not free, it is paid for" 
susank
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Re:American POW's held at Berchtesgaden 2009/04/06 10:05:26 (permalink)
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Hi John-
 
Do you have a list of other retreats used by Hitler?  Zeigenberg is 460 Km from Sagan and the surrounds are intriguing.  Hitler left Zeigenberg in early '45 - timing is about right. 
 
Susan
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Re:American POW's held at Berchtesgaden 2009/04/06 13:39:28 (permalink)
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Susan,
The headquarters I was alluding to was the one at "Ketrzyn, Rastenburg, Prussia", now Poland. As a youngster I was always facinated by and how a former paperhanger from Austria could dupe the people from another country to become their leader. After my tour in the Navy, I went to college, I read Mein Kampf two times over, wrote my view points and aced the sucker in "European History" class in college. The professor wanted to know who wrote it for me.
Give me some time to research your question and with a little bit of luck I may be able to help you. "Obersalzberg" was Adolphs favorite retreat. Having been there twice I could see why. Living here in the beautifull NC Blue Ridge mountains I still pine to return to "VISIT" the Bavarian and Austrian Alps, awsome!!. Due to age and it's baggage, this is my last year to try a re-visit. 
 
 My best to you and may the wind be always to your back.

Fair Winds and Following Seas,   John
GM 3/C USS Snowden DE246--Frost DE144

Kin to LT. John W. Farnkopf  
15th AF, 52 FG, 4th FS
MIA 11/11/44 remains found 12/8/53
"Freedom is not free, it is paid for" 
susank
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Re:American POW's held at Berchtesgaden 2009/04/06 14:13:19 (permalink)
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Hi John-
 
I am really curious about John Last and his being moved to an area as a "human shield".  While I am not an expert by any means in all of this, I have not heard of anyone who left SLIII for this purpose.  The fact that John said that "he was marched to a compound belonging to 'Shickelbgruber' ", makes me even more curious - would John have known that the name is associated with Hitler?  But, then again, I am certainly not an expert - just a part-time Nancy Drew!
Susan
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Re:American POW's held at Berchtesgaden 2009/04/06 18:57:53 (permalink)
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Susan,
I dont know what happened to the gentleman and maybe/maybe not, his memory is playing tricks. I tried to steer Dan away from "Obersalzberg", Sometimes doing a research it easy to go off on a tangent. I have  done my homework on the "Eagles Nest" years ago. It was so fortified that the only way to knock it out would be from the air. My wifes cousin a 15th AF 455th BG radio/radar repairman is  87 yrs old. A few years back one of the fine people in this forum sent me photos of the cousin with some guys he worked with and also the shops they worked in, in Italy. I sent him the photos, he phoned me wanting to know who the guys were and where were the pictures taken. The only thing he remembers of Italy, was flying four missions to operate the Radar (one was to Russia) B-24s blowing up on take off, a great R&R on some Island in the MED. He lost two of his favorite people in Nov & Dec 44 the latter being his kid brother. Maybe his mind shut down. His son liked the photos, had them lightened and framed.  
 
John 
post edited by Yunch - 2009/04/07 12:35:53

Fair Winds and Following Seas,   John
GM 3/C USS Snowden DE246--Frost DE144

Kin to LT. John W. Farnkopf  
15th AF, 52 FG, 4th FS
MIA 11/11/44 remains found 12/8/53
"Freedom is not free, it is paid for" 
Yunch
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Re:American POW's held at Berchtesgaden 2009/04/07 09:27:05 (permalink)
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Susan,
OOPs, I overlooked answering one of your questions. Hitler was well known as
"Schicklgruber" durring WWII and often called that. He was baptized "Alois Schicklgruber" born out of wedlock. He or his step father later changed his name to Adolf Hitler.
As to Hitler's retreats, I found there are books out covering the subject of over 20 different places he conducted business from.
 
John
 
 
post edited by Yunch - 2009/04/07 12:33:29

Fair Winds and Following Seas,   John
GM 3/C USS Snowden DE246--Frost DE144

Kin to LT. John W. Farnkopf  
15th AF, 52 FG, 4th FS
MIA 11/11/44 remains found 12/8/53
"Freedom is not free, it is paid for" 
jj463rd
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Re:American POW's held at Berchtesgaden 2009/04/07 09:50:29 (permalink)
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Kind of a shame though that Berchtesgaden was destroyed.It was a really well designed Mountain Retreat and very classy.I remember seeing pictures of it.
A nephew (William Patrick Hitler) of Adolf Hitler moved to the United States (Long Island, New York) and he joined the U.S. Navy I think during World War 2.He had 3 children who changed their last names.

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Re:American POW's held at Berchtesgaden 2009/04/08 12:48:07 (permalink)
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Hi guys.
Shickelgruber was my insertion. John said he was at a compound occupied by Hitler that had 3 levels. He said he was marched there from Sagan. When the tank crew blew the gate off the enclosed area he was in, he was then taken by truck to France. I am still trying to locate that compound as well as the Cigarette Camp he was processed through before being shipped back to the States

Clipped Wing
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Re:American POW's held at Berchtesgaden 2009/04/11 13:35:03 (permalink)
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I must sincerely apologise for some incorrect information I gave in my original post. I stated that EAST was the direction John was driven when he was taken by truck to France. Of course, he went WEST.  I don't know how I came up with East. If he was travelling "East toward France", he sure wouldn't be driving in a truck. Please forgive my mistake, especially you, John.

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Yunch
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Re:American POW's held at Berchtesgaden 2009/04/11 18:10:07 (permalink)
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Dan,
I am the last person on earth you or anyone else owes an apology to. On the other side of the coin, there is not enough time left for me to try and find ALL!! the people that I have offended to apologise to them and that includes a few folks on this forum.
As an after thought, I better check with the Vatican, I may have even P---ed off the "Pope". 
 
My best to you with your search,  John

Fair Winds and Following Seas,   John
GM 3/C USS Snowden DE246--Frost DE144

Kin to LT. John W. Farnkopf  
15th AF, 52 FG, 4th FS
MIA 11/11/44 remains found 12/8/53
"Freedom is not free, it is paid for" 
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