Concentration camp survivor to fighter pilot: 'Freedom a beautiful thing'

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by evangilder, Jun 27, 2013.

  1. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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  2. vikingBerserker

    vikingBerserker Well-Known Member

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    That's a great story.
     
  3. Glider

    Glider Well-Known Member

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    A very special person
     
  4. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

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    I have my doubts about this story.

    Rescued from a concentration camp near Belgium at the end of 1944? Which camp would that be ?

    "From here, he connected with the 11th AD and learned to speak English from the soldiers." ???

    And then the 11th AD just let this 15 year old boy fight alongside of them? Very questionable !


    According to wiki, "the 11th AD landed in Normandy on 16 December 1944. The division landed in Normandy, 16 December 1944, assigned to contain the enemy in the Lorient Pocket, but the Von Rundstedt offensive resulted in a forced march to the Meuse and the defense of a 30-mile sector from Givet to Sedan, 23 December. Launching an attack from Neufchâteau, Belgium, 30 December, the 11th defended the highway to Bastogne against fierce assault."
    So, it seems the infamous 11th AD only came to the frontline at the end of 1944, defended a sector and then counterattacked into the Ardennes. What concentration camp are they supposed to have liberated? And how fast did that guy learn English? A week?

    Kris
     
  5. GrauGeist

    GrauGeist Well-Known Member

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    There was a labor camp in Belgium that was liberated in '44:

    Breendonk Belgium - Prison and labor camp Sep 1940 – Sep 1944

    I've read similiar stories as this, where liberated prisoners attached themselves to Allied units during the final push on Germany.
     
  6. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

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    Breendonk was liberated by the British. It was not a concentration camp, nor a labour camp. It was a transit camp.

    It says 'near Belgium', indicating it is not in Belgium. There was only one concentration camp nearby and that was in French/German Alsace, but this was evacuated in September 1944.

    On another website, I read that this guy was kept as a 'mascotte' in the 11th AD. However, mascottes don,t find, especially if they are 15 years old.

    Kris
     
  7. tyrodtom

    tyrodtom Well-Known Member

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    Breendonk may not fit your definition of a concentration camp, but torture, hangings and shootings were conducted there, and prisioners.

    Instead of picking holes in the story from a safe distance, if you doubt the truth of the story, why don't you get in touch with the author.
     
  8. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

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    I tried to comment, but the link doesn't work.

    I was thinking about googling the reporter's name and emailing him, but felt I should wait to jump to conclusions and wait for some comments on this board.

    I fear this might be yet another case of someone, who has beefed up his life story to get ahead in life. Kind of like that British WW2 vet, who released a book a few months ago on how he infliltrated a concentration camp three times, while he was held in a nearby POW camp.

    I visited Breendonk once. It was one of the most memorable sites I have ever seen. They had an amazing guide there, called Chris. And that must have been the best guide I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. At times, he would take on the role of a nazi prison guard and start shouting orders at you. The fact, that we were there on a cold and wet day definitely increase the dramatic scenery. It was just a sad sight. And then all those stories. In fact, the most cruel torturers were not German. They were their Belgian colleagues. Thugs of the worst kind. Luckily, they all got tried and executed after the war.

    Kris
     
  9. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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    Great story! Thanks for sharing.
     
  10. evangilder

    evangilder "Shooter"
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    Uh, hardly. The guy is in his 80s. I think he has gotten plenty out of life.
     
  11. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

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    I meant at young age. Claiming to have fought the Germans alongside American troops to get ahead in life. The article says someone sponsored his education. Who knows what doors it opened to him?
    Then again, do not want to push this too far. You do not become a succesful fighter pilot, if you are not good enough.

    Btw, I also doubt he could have been used as a translator for the Americans. The Allies had plenty of translators, especially after hostilities ended. You do not need a 15 year old Polish boy for that.

    I am sorry if I am being so negative about it. It is a wonderful story and I would like to believe it, but as an historian, I am critical about any source.

    Kris
     
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