Sunday, March 22, 2015

XI - Liberation after 6 years

A common sight in April and May of 1945

Continuing with his long awaited liberation, Once again history, the record and personal recollection do not align. Especially data populated by dad in the literally endless post war forms for assistance in the war refugee collection centers by the (IRO) International Relief Organization.
  • The POW record shows his last Confinement at Stalag K (326) at Senne/Schloss Holte-Stuckenbrock, Fallingbostel area beginning September 9, 1944. Documents also show him  performing forced labor at Blechhammer Chemical plant June 1944-January 1945. Was this an Arbeitkommando work assignment?
  • All forced labor ended at Blachownia/Blechhammer chemical plant January 1945, he had to return to Stalag K in the Fallingbostel complex.
  • History says Stalag  K was liberated in April 2, 1945
  • Zygmunt says he was liberated on May 8, 1945 by the British but populated IRO forms soon after  liberation with April 1945
  • May 8 is also recognized as VE (Victory in Europe) Day 
  • Documents show he was in Hannover-Buchholz in the Polish Military Centre April 16,1945, at a PWX (ex-POW) camp.
  • April 16 is same date as the 2 Fallingbostel Stalags liberations.
To further complicate matters, from his recollections to Shannon Frackiewicz and family verbal history, he was shot by the Germans after the war ended!

Zygmunt told of being liberated by British forces (while waiting for Americans). Freed POW's were told they were free and they set off walking toward whatever refuge, comrades and assistance they could find in a foreign land. He must have been in a small group taking a less traveled route because he was ambushed and shot by Germans who did not know the war was over and hostilities had ceased.

Imagine that, no GPS, no cells phones, no taxis or Uber, no public transport, just follow a dirt road or path through the forest. This after covering thousands of kilometers as POW, with the clothes on your back, a stranger in a strange, bombed out land, freed to march again to what?
Then shot after being freed.

So sometime between April 2, 1945 and May 1945 he was shot.He must have been field dressed as documents show 3 months later, May 22,1945 - June 1, 1945 he had surgery on his right bicep that did not take well. One year after that he had another surgery by a Polish doctor. 

I can speculate that if he was a documented in an PWX camo in Hannover-Buchholz on April 16, 1945 in the Polish Military Centre, that he was probably freed from Stalag K on or about April 2, 1945 by the British and heading for a refugee or  Polish collection center, was shot en route in an ambush, transported to the Polish Military Centre for first aid. Because he could speak German, he could act as a translator for the Polish folks and remained there helping with the masses of captured Germans, Displace Persons (DP) and former POW's. When the 2nd PWX camp was disbanded in June 1947, he was reassigned to the DP camp in the RPC (Regional Processing Centre) in Fallingbostel. This scenario fits the record

One more thing, family history says this hospital and military centre is where he met Elfriede Emma Dusel, his future wife and my mom. The incredible story continues........

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