the forgotten photos

 

The whole collection of the photos about Murnau I found can be loaded in full size (3300x2000 each) at : http://hollow.one.free.fr/murnau/. Photographs are rough from scanner. Some of them have been fixed or pulled in by Carol Celinska Dove in order to enable someone to be identified, at http://hollow.one.free.fr/murnau/fixedphotos/
Toute la collection de photos de Murnau que j'ai trouvée peut être chargée en pleine définition (3300x2000 chacune) à :
http://hollow.one.free.fr/murnau/. Les photos sont brutes de scan. Certaines ont été retouchées et recadrées par Carol Celinska Dove pour permettre une meilleure identification des personnes, à : http://hollow.one.free.fr/murnau/fixedphotos/


From november 27, 2010 we received these emails (with our answers) :

Alain

The wonders of Google!

I came across these photos and am going to sent the link to by 94 year old father who was a 2nd Lieutenant at the camp, He was captured in 1939 and spent all his war years at Murnau. I am fairly sure that he has not seen these photos before but will know may of the people and places and circumstances.

Thanks you so much for recording this vital history.

Have you had any feedback from any other ex POWs?

Best regards

Stefan Jarkowski

______________________________

Dear Stefan,

I'm happy to read your message. If your father can give us any information, people names, places, way of live, about the camp, we could post this on the web site, to communicate with families. To answer to your question, all the feedbacks are on the web site, on the information page, and only with the families of prisoners.
I thank you beforehand.

Best regards.

Alain Rempfer

______________________________

On december 3, 2010 :

Thanks

I am going to see him in the next 2 weeks and so will go through each of the photos. It is likely that the collection belonged to the person who took the photographs, who in turn managed to get the camera and film from a friendly guard. My father remembers the incident with the shooting of the SS guards although he did not witness it.

Your website indicated that many other negatives existed in poor quality which you did not manage to scan or put onto your website. Are these already scanned and able to be reviewed and recovered in say Adobe Photoshop?

I am happy to examine them and try and recover them if you like?.

Best regards

______________________________

Dear Stefan,

About the others films, unfortunately all of them are not recoverable by any means; they are completely white or black, absolutely not readable. I scanned all those who could be usable, even the scratched or blured ones and put them on the website.

Waiting some more information from your father.

Best regards.

Alain Rempfer

______________________________

On july 14, 2014 :

Hi

Further to our correspondence, I have found a black and white photo of a very large group of POWs including my father. If I scanned this would you be able to add it to your web site?

Regards

Stefan Jarkowski

______________________________

Hello Stefan,

There is no problem to post the photo on the website. Thank you to share this document with the community.

Best regards.

Alain Rempfer

 

Photograph of my father (sitting centre) with some of his troop in Italy in 1946. The next one has been taken at Murnau camp.

 

 

Photo taken in 2006 after having received the Polonia Restituta - Comandor Class.

 

POW identity card issued to my father by the Allies on the 26th May 1945

 

 

Mieczyslaw Stefan Jarkowski biography

My father, Mieczyslaw Stefan Jarkowski was born in Huszlew Poland in August 1916 and was brought up in Mordi, where his father was the local Rail Stationmaster.

My father was educated firstly at the Walerian Lukasinski primary school in Mordi, and then at the Hetman Zolkiewski Grammer school in Sieldce.
In 1935 he joined the Cadet Officer's College Reserve, Artillery based at Wlodzimierz Wolynski, before then attending the Army Cadet Officers College in Torun between 1936 and 1938.
He consequently received his commission as a Second-Lieutenant (Podporucznik), in the 7th Light Field Artillery Regiment (Signals battery) based in Czestochowa.
Between August and September 1939 my father acted as a Reconnaissance Officer in the 1st Division, 7th Artillery Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, and at the outbreak of war in October 1939, was forced to retreat to the South East where he and any others attempted to join Polish Forces in France. Unfortunately, he was captured at the Hungarian border, and was imprisoned by the Gestapo in Sanok. He was then transferred by the Wermacht to Oflag V11-A at Murnau.
As prisoner number 16792, he was located in various parts of the prison:
" Block BI (1940),
" Block B3, Room 28 (1940-41) - shared with up to 10 other junior officers
" Block E , Room 15 & 16 (1941 onwards)

My Fathers time in Murnau:
Like so many others, my father was reticent to discuss his time in Murnau other than to say it was a time of hunger, boredom and anxiety. He occupied himself by working in the post-room and by learning over 5 x languages.

I recently came across a pen friend of my father who was a young scout living in Silesia, and who now lives in USA. She had corresponded with him for several years during 1940-43 and had also kept his letters! These letters show that there was a regular need for food parcels as well as clothing for my father and his colleagues.

I quote from her recent letter to me:
"..The German government forbade the German Red Cross Organisation from sending food parcels destined for Prisoners of War at the end of 1940. The Poles living in the General Gubernia, (the Polish territory administered wholly by Germans), were also not allowed to send parcels. The German authority turned to us - a scouting organisation, acting in the region of Silesia which had been incorporated into Germany, and who also had the right to send parcels abroad.
We were supplied with lists of POW's names and addresses. My group received a list with your fathers name, and that is how I began to correspond with him.
The German government agreed, at last, in 1943 that the Red Cross could send food parcels for POW's. Also, at the same time the German government decided that POW's were only allowed to correspond with the closest family members. Thus, my contact with your father came to an end……".

After the camp was relieved by the American Army in April 29th1945, he was then eventually relocated to Italy to serve with the 4th light Artillery Regiment, 2nd Polish Corps under General Anders.
In September 1946, his regiment was transferred to England where he served as Signals Officer with the 504 Basic Unit PRC at the Daglingworth Camp near Gloucester.
Before demobilisation he met my mother, who was a serving English WAAF at a nearby army camp. They married in 1947.
My father then trained as a textile engineer and worked in the textile industry for nearly 30 years, firstly at Stroud near Gloucester, and then in Worcester, until his eventual retirement in 1978. They moved to Kettering, Northamptonshire in 1988.

My father had already been actively involved in the affairs of the Polish Combatants Association in Worcester for many years. Following his retirement, he then continued this passion for the next 35 years until he died.
His many achievements included:
" Member of the Committee, Secretary General then Vice-Chairman of the Council of World Federation of the Polish Combatants Association
" Delegate to the ceremony in Warsaw, transferring the Insignia of the Polish Government in Exile to the newly elected President of Poland, Lech Wa??sa
" Awarded the Golden Cross of Merit and Polonia Restituta by the Polish Government in Exile
" In 2005 in Wielum, Poland, awarded the Polonia Restituta - 4th Class (Krzy? Oficerski), presented by the President of Poland, Aleksander Kwasniewski
" In 2006, at the Polish Embassy in London, England awarded the Polonia Restituta - Comandor Class (Krzy? Komandorski), presented by the President of Poland, Lech Kaczynski
" Also, in 2006, promoted to the rank of Lt. Colonel (Podpolkovnik)
" In 2009 awarded the Cross of Merit of SPK - Brasil.

In 2010 my father and mother both retired to the Polish Ex-Servicemen's home in Penrhos in North Wales. He passed away on May 29th 2013, at the grand age of 96. My mother my sister and I survive him (as of July 2014).

Stefan Jarkowski



Bonsoir Alain!

I am afraid that is the sum total of French that I am going to use without embarrassing myself !

I ran across your excellent website on Murnau several years ago as my mother’s two older brothers [Stefan Marie Dabrowski (1910-1955) and Jan Henryk Dabrowski (1916-1987) were both imprisoned in Murnau from 1939 to 1945. I simply downloaded some of the photos that you posted, put them in an appropriate folder, filed the folder, and that was that, UNTIL ...

Two days ago I reopened the folder and followed the link “information”. The very first entry that I saw was the one from Rick Hyman of Toledo Ohio, showing the two watercolour sketches by a certain “M. Poznanski”. I was absolutely stunned. The style of the painting was almost identical to a watercolour sketch of my uncle Stefan Marie Dabrowski, done in Murnau in 1944. I had sent the sketch out to be reframed and just picked it up today. Please check the first attachment (Dzidek, Murnau, 1944). “Dzidek” was my uncle’s nickname ... but more importantly the sketch (which is an excellent rendering of my late uncle) was by the same artist that produced Mr. Hyman’s landscape sketches!! This sketch is 4.5 x 2.5 inches. The initial appears to be “H” instead of “M”, but the style of Mr. Poznanski’s sketch of my uncle is exactly that of Mr. Hyman’s two pieces. AMAZING. Really, such a small world !

It would be worthwhile trying to run-down who the very talented Mr. Poznanski was. There must still be lists of the Polish inmates of Murnau. At least one could ascertain what his rank was and what regiment he was from.

You may certainly post this information!! And contact Mr. Hyman about it as well. I am sure that he would be interested. In the next e-mail I will send a few biographical details on my two uncles as well as some period photos, which I would also like to see posted !

Yours Sincerely

Adam S. Hedinger

Sunday, October 13, 2013. Calgary, Canada

 

"Dzidek", Murnau. 1944. (Stefan Marie Dabrowski)

 

Bonsoir Alain !

Ici e-mail No. Deux ...

My mother’s two brothers [Dr. Stefan Marie Dabrowski (1910-1955) and Jan Henryk Dabrowski (1916-1979)] were both Polish P.O.W.’s at Murnau from 1939-1945. They were the sons of the eminent Prof. Stefan Tytus Dabrowski of the University of Poznan (Rektor in 1939; 1945-1947). The older brother (Stefan) was a doctor and surgeon and one of three (Polish) doctors who staffed the Medical Clinic at Murnau. He employed his younger brother Jan Henryk (who was an economist) as his assistant.

All three photos (down) were taken in 1942 in Murnau. The first shows the two brothers in white “doctor’s” attire; the other two in military uniforms. Both brothers were members of the 1rst Armoured Battalion at the outbreak of hostilities.

After liberation (1945) both brothers initially stayed in Munich, attached to the Polish Red Cross. Jan was summoned to see his father (Prof. Dabrowski) in Poznan – a dangerous undertaking because the newly installed Communist government might label him an “Allied Spy”. He crossed the frontier with false documents, visited his father, but was stopped by the Czechs at the border crossing, who managed to find his real papers sewn in the lining of his jacket. He was thrown in jail in Czechoslovakia and later deported to Poland, where he remained for the rest of his life. The older brother (Stefan) stayed in Munich, emigrated to Canada in 1951 and obtained permission to practise as a doctor in that country. Transferred to a regional hospital in north central Alberta (province) he was tragically killed in a single car accident in 1955.

You may post as much of this information as you see fit.

Yours sincerely,

Adam S. Hedinger,

Sunday, October 13, 2013. Calgary, Canada

 

Stefan and Jan

 

Stefan

Jan

 


On Friday october 4th, 2013 we received this mail from our friend Jaroslaw Baczyk, in Poland :

Dear Alain,

The full name of the Polish painter from Murnau is MARIAN POZNANSKI, his rank – Second Lieutenant. I read there was the exhibition of Poznanski's painting in the oflag. See – the photo of this exhibition from the book (memoirs) of Wojciech Rawski (“Wspomnienia z wojny wrzesniowej 1939 i obozu oficerskiego w Murnau”, Tarnobrzeg 1998, p.149). I suppose, there is Marian Poznanski, maybe in the middle of a picture?

Yours sincerely,

Jaroslaw Baczyk

 

 

 

 



On september 10th, 2013, we received this mail from Ohio :

I have two watercolor pictures done by a POW in Murnau. His last name is POZNANSKI. One is dated 1944 and the other 1945. I was given these 20 years ago by a fellow POW whose name I have forgotten, but could find with a little research. ANY INFO ON THE ARTIST WOULD BE APPRECIATED. I was told the POW was given paper and watercolors to use. The guards gave most of the pictures to their wives and girlfriends. He was either allowed to keep some or hide some. The man who gave these watercolors to me was a teacher in Poland before the war. After release he came to Toledo, Ohio and was a Janitor / Cleaner at the University. He used to shop at my father's used furniture store where we would talk about art. He never married and gave these to me. I forgot about them until I was cleaning out a closet. With the help of Internet I found you. If I can find his name I will pass it on.

Thanks.

Ric Hyman, Toledo, Ohio. USA

 

Watercolor #1, signed M. POZNANSKI. 1944

 

Watercolor #2, signed M. POZNANSKI, MURNAU 1945

 

 


One of the photographers identified !

According to what we understand, there were several photographers at Murnau camp. All of them unknown. But at the time being, one of them can be identified. On july 2013, we received a letter from Jaroslaw Baczyk of the Museum of the Wielkopolska Uprising (Odwach) - Poznan, Poland. He worked on the exhibition about Murnau camp who lasted from may to august 2013. He told us that after visiting the exhibition of Murnau's photos a man, Andrzej Budzynski, gave him information about his father ...

 


German documentary on Murnau photos story, by Bayerischer Rundfunk TV. April 2013

 

 


Exhibition about Murnau in the Museum of the Wielkopolska Uprising (Odwach) - Poznan, Poland. From May 8th, 2013 to the end of August.

http://www.muzeumniepodleglosci.poznan.pl/

 

 


A newspaper article about Murnau photos in the SPIEGEL online

http://einestages.spiegel.de/s/tb/26823/offizierslager-in-hitler-deutschland-bilderfund-aus-dem-oflag-murnau.html

January 16, 2013


Bonjour Alain,
Bonjour Olivier,

Hier, je suis tombé au website de notre journal régional sur l`histoire de vos photos de Murnau.

Je m´excuse pour continuer à écrire en anglais, mais c´est beaucoup plus facile pour moi. These pictures are really amazing: I hope you get more information about their origin, and they might help to bring at least some remaining family members more clearing about the fate of their fathers or grandfathers.

I live 20 kilometers away from Murnau, but I did not know about this part of history which happened almoust 68 years ago in my neigbourhood. I know the location of the former prison camp, as one of the companies of the batallion where I spent my military service had been based there, and the barracks are still used by the german mountain infantery. Perhaps I can illuminate the mystery concerning the SS men who had been killed during the liberation of the camp on 29.04.1945, this topic had been discussed on the bulletin board of your website. There are the names of 3 persons plus the driver/adjudant: I think they ALL lost their lives at the shooting this day, as you can see at least 3 different cars who had been attacked by the americans.

Picture 179 with the kfz 11 vehicle and 2 victims is taken right in front of the entrance gate. You can see the trottoir in front, the same scene is shown from the other direction on the photo of the american photographer Lt. Edward C. Newell as well.

Picture 239 is a look from the entrance gate to the south, from where the SS came: In the foreground you see the pliable roof of the kfz 11 and behind a loaded car which had been hit by bullets. There might be seen a presumable victim lying on the ground, but this is not evident.

Picture 174 is particular: It shows a destroyed, loaded german car, but it can not be the one from picture 239. This is a scenery north of the entrance gate, as the surrendered german guard crew who left the camp (by the main gate) is moving north towards the american tanks. This must be a third car, who had passed by the camp`s gate and run into the american troops. So it is very supposable, that there are more german victims than the 2 dead bodies who can be seen.

On the website of the Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge (german military cemetery comission) all german victims of the world war(s), who are buried on a military cemetery are listed. I found the following people who died that day:

family name: Fick
first name: Ernst Otto
rank: Generalmajor
date of birth: 05.02.1898
killed/missing in action: 29.04.1945

family name: Teichmann
first name: Max
rank: Hauptsturmführer (a special SS-rank, similar to a captain)
date of birth: 31.12.1902
killed/missing in action: 29.04.1945

family name: Wittmann
first name: Erwin
rank: unknown
date of birth: 19.10.1927
killed/missing in action: 29.04.1945

With Erwin Wittmann I am not sure at all, as he was too young to be already an officer of the SS. But he is buried in Munich, so he lost his life in that area, and he could have been the driver of Max Teichmann.

Perhaps this information helps a little bit to clarify the facts about this day. I wish you all the best for your further research, and a lot of feedback to identify more of the former residents of the camp.

Best regards/cordialement

Manuel
from Weilheim, Bavaria. January 11, 2013


A newspaper article about Murnau photos in the MERKUR-online.de

January 10, 2013


A WAR MOVIE ABOUT MURNAU ON YOUTUBE

A war movie taken by American troops during the liberation of Murnau camp can be seen on Youtube. It's like if some photos of those pages become alive suddenly ...

WW2: Murnau, Germany (April 29, 1945)

January, 2013


 

This new book (only Polish edition) is available in Wielkopolskie Muzeum Walk Niepodleglosciowych in Poznan.

Contact: bzura@muzeumniepodleglosci.poznan.pl
Web Site: www.muzeumniepodleglosci.poznan.pl

January 11, 2013


This photo probably taken by an American officer, maybe Lt. Edward C. Newell of the US Army Signals Corp, is in relation with those taken by the "unknown photographer" from the camp on the same topic (down). Thanks to Ronnie Bell who posted it on his Flickr gallery : http://www.flickr.com/search/?w=16118167@N04&q=murnau

 

 

Photo # 184 ... http://hollow.one.free.fr/murnau/

Few seconds before the first photo, when the German vehicle has been shooted by American troops. According to informations given by Ronnie Bell and Reinhard Frank the dead is Ernst Otto FICK , Generalmajor der Waffen SS,. born 5.2.1898 and his driver : April 29, 1945, the German staff vehicle hit a convoy of 12 armoured vehicles of the 1st tank Division of the United States, The leading tank hit the car with machine gun fire killing SS Ernst Fick and his driver on the right opposite the entrance to Murnau. Taken : 29.04.1945

But according to Tom Wodzinsky the two German were Colonel Teichmann and Captain Widmann ( in a letter posted down this page ) :

At around 15:00, and as the American army approached the town of Murnau from the north, a small group of cars with SS-men approached the camp from the direction of the town. The Americans were approaching from the opposite direction. When they met just outside the front gate of the camp, gunfire erupted, upon which most of the SS cars turned around and fled back to town. The lead car opened fire whereupon they came under more concentrated fire from the Americans. 2 SS men died (Colonel Teichmann and Captain Widmann). Prisoners climbed on to the front fence and watched proceedings cheering the Americans on. 2nd Ltnt Alfons Mazurek was also killed by a stray bullet during the exchange of fire.


Photo # 109 (in the whole collection)

Seehausen am Staffelsee, Kirche St Michael, "Am Graswegerer"- street. Behind us is the ex Gebirgspanzerjäger Kaserne ( then OFLAG) in the Weilheimerstrasse 60. Murnau

Postcard printed in 1958.

( Informations and postcard sent by Reinhard Frank, historian. November 13, 2012 )



Drogi Olivier i Alain
Dziekuje za www poswiecone oficerom z Murnau. Mój dziadek porucznik lub podporucznik Stanislaw Tomczak spedzil w tym obozie caly okres wojny. W 1939r wpadl do niewoli sowieckiej i zbiegl. Niestety wpadl do niewoli niemieckiej i wyladowal w Murnau Block H. Po wyzwoleniu w 1945r nigdy nie wrócil do Polski. Ostatnie listy od niego pochodza z Augsburga z lat 50-tych. Poszukuje innych zdjec mojego przodka, jego mogily i potomków. Przesylam zdjecia i list z obozu (mam wiecej). Prosze o pomoc jesli to mozliwe.
Pozdrawiam
Adam Debicki
Chelm Poland. August 25, 2012

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Dear Olivier and Alain,

Thank you so much for the photos about Murnau (“forgotten photos”). It is unbelievable journey in the past, especially for me. I am the curator in the Museum of “Poznan” Army in Poznan, Poland. My main interests are the September campaign 1939 and the struggles of “Poznan” Army. The commander of the “Poznan” Army was Lt Gen Tadeusz Kutrzeba (in the Polish Army: “general of division”). You can see him on the photos:

No. 117, 118, 120, 121 - Kutrzeba and Lt Gen Wladyslaw Anders – the commander-in-chief of the Polish Armed Forces (in the West),

No. 201, 202, 203 - Kutrzeba and Maj Gen Kazimierz Schally (in the Polish Army: “general of brigade”) – the commander of the Polish Military Mission by SHAEF.

After liberation of the Murnau POW camp Kutrzeba was the commandant of the Polish Prisoners of War Camp Oflag VIIA (May 10, 1945 – July 1945). He died in London on 8 January, 1947. In this year it is the 65th anniversary of his death. Therefore we intend to publish the biographical book to commemorate Kutrzeba. I would be very happy if you could agree to publish 2 or 3 photos from your website in our book…

Please correct me – you recovered the negatives in a dustbin in PARIS (?). It is interesting because the group of the Polish generals from Murnau was transported to Paris in May/June 1945. It was “the Polish route” to London.

Yours sincerely

Jaroslaw Baczyk. April 17, 2012

 

Lt Gen Tadeusz Kutrzeba

 

 

 


Dear Olivier and Alain,

Thank-you so much for all your work on this historically important web site.

My Father Bronislaw Czekierda was one of the few regular enlisted men who was interned at Oflag VII-A Murnau. He would carry out regular duties to maintain the camp and assist the Officers. Like many war veterans he spoke little of the war. However, back in 1989 I persistently managed to record 2 hours of conversations of those war years. He passed away in 2003 and you might imagine my recorded conversations with him are priceless to me.

At the beginning of the war Dad was in a Communications Unit. Just before the war began he strung telephone lines through the fields from large spools on a truck. As his unit moved they were supposed to rewind those telephone cables back onto the spools. This is how the Polish Command would communicate with the soldiers on the front line. The Germans had wireless radios. Not every Polish soldier had a gun. Dad however was issued a single shot rifle and 35 bullets. That’s all they could spare. He wasn't captured right away despite being very close to the front line at the beginning of the war. In a matter of a few weeks the Polish troops were pushed back further and further until he was finally captured near Warsaw. Bronislaw was taken to Berlin by train and detained in a make shift open field detention centre. From there he was taken to Oflag VII-A Murnau.

During his imprisonment he was given one bowl of soup per day, consisting mostly of flour and water. The occasional vegetable was tossed in (sometimes a piece of turnip) along with a half loaf of bread to last the week. There was also some coffee made available. Essentially that is what he lived on for the next 5½ years, to the end of the war.

While on work detail in the camp garden, Dad scaled a block wall when a guard turned away. This was an escape of opportunity, not a planned escape. He had nothing with him to help him along. No food, his pockets were empty. The Germans with their dogs were actively looking for him in the region of the camp. However Dad covered a lot of ground, making a quick getaway as he headed toward the Swiss Border. He walked along side of the road, hiding in the fields of grain and tall grass, hiding whenever he heard a vehicle. He would eat whatever he could find like apples and pears. There wasn’t much to feast on. A few days later he was recaptured near Constance, Germany close to the Swiss border. He was then returned back to Oflag VII-A Murnau where he remained for the rest of the war.

Although it wasn’t clearly known at that time, the end of the war was only six months away. Perhaps that’s why Dad’s life was spared. The Germans had to have known that this War was all but lost.

There is far more detail to these stories but I have reduced 2 hours of conversation to a few lines. I can't tell you how much the pictures on your web site mean to me. I have studied all the photos in great detail. From the sea of people pictured in all the photographs, I cannot see my father. However, I know he's there!

Sincerely yours,
Waldemar Czekierda. March 3, 2011
London, Ontario, Canada

 

Bronislaw Czekierda
(back row no cap)


 

Dear Alain
I saw your website and looked through every photograph. My grandfather was Lt. Col Edward Jan Pach and he was held at Murnau for the duration of the war. From what my late father told me he was deputy commander and quartermaster of the 82nd Infantry Regiment headquarters at Brest-Litewski. I believe he may have been transfered to the 35th Infantry Division reserve as he left Brest-Litewski on 7 September 1939 to join the fighting against the Germans. He was one of the lucky ones as the officers of the 82nd were murdered at Katyn or Kharkov. No one knows what happened to my grandfather as all contact was lost in 1946. We know that he spent some time as a displaced person at Warburg Dossell. He was a very close friend of Major Henryk Sucharski Defender of Westerplatte.
From your photographs he might be on photograph 213 middle row first on the left or photograph 14 the officer standing between the two second and front on the first row. If anyone has any information about Edward Pach I would be delighted to correspond.


Richard Pach (r945003@hotmail.co.uk)
October 25, 2010

 


Dear Alain
My father ZYMUNT SZCZEPANSKI was taken to Murnau after the Warsaw Uprising and stayed there until liberation. He was born in 1925 so was still a young man in 1945. I have attached some pictures. The first 2 are inscribed in Polish "MURNAU ALPS after liberation 10 May 1945" "Murnau Alps after liberation 10 August 1945". I know that after liberation he was taken to SULMONA in Italy but know very little about what happened there except that he made his way to England. I have attached photo taken in SULMONA 7th Mrch 1946. I hope you can put the pictures on your site for others to recognise. My father died in 2007 and told us little about his experiences.
Regards
Janet Gardner, April 9, 2009.
England

 


 

Hello Alain and Olivier:

Hi: Thanks so much for your work on the Murnau website. My dad, George W. Gaumond (Lt.Col.USAF ret.) was a young 2nd Lt. with the 116th recon group, part of the 101st cavalry which according to the archives I've examined took part in the liberation of the Kaufering concentration camps and the Murnau POW camp. He will be 90 on May 1st.
He has never spoken of his wartime experiences, but I believe he was there in the middle of it all. You can visit the unit's website at
www.wingfoot101.us He is the last officer of the 101st's WWII contingent left. There are about 2 dozen surviving enlisted men and non-coms from his unit. (At their largest, the unit comprised some 1600 men). They hold annual reunions in N.C. (Fort Bragg) and Fla. My parents used to attend regularly but my mother's health is failing (she will be 87 next month) so they no longer are able to go.
We should never forget the sacrifice of this Greatest Generation who saved the planet from fascist world domination and made the lives of so many of us living today possible.
Keep up the good work.
I have corresponded recently with Ms. Melanie Moisan. She is the daughter of a 101st cavalryman (who passed away in 1971). She told me that the surviving unit members held their last reunion in 2006. The youngest members are in their late 80's now.
She wrote an excellent book about the 101st titled "Wingfoot, The 101st Cavalry in WWII". She maintains the 101st website. Please refer to the "Stories" section on the site. The letter by Father Maurice Powers is well worth reading, it is one of the most poignant accounts of combat I have ever read. He was the Catholic Priest (also a scholar and historian) who was the unit's chaplain. He accompanied the unit on their deployment and was witness to the entirety of Operation Wingfoot, the 91 days of continuous combat which began with their breakthrough of the Seigfreid Line (on the Western boundary of Germany) and ended on the last day of the war (at the border of Austria). Among other accomplishments the unit captured 26,000 German soldiers a number 13 times their own strength. Father Powers was awarded the Bronze Star for his heroism under fire. The Bronze Star is our military's highest decoration (second only to the Congressional Medal of Honor in importance). I had never before heard of a clergyman receiving it.
There is also an excellent website
www.kaufering.com still under construction, which details the horrors and liberation of the Kaufering (sub camps) of Dachau. Many of the slave laborers were forced to work on the ME262, the Nazi's jet fighter plane. During the 101st's campaign they captured 300 of these deadly weapons being assembled in the woods outside of Munich. Allied bombing had destroyed all the factory sites in the city.
I can remember as a child assembling a toy model of this plane. My dad remarked that his unit had been strafed by them. Most of the experienced German aces were dead by then, and the young pilot's were largely ineffective in their shooting. (They overshot their marks because they were unable to compensate for the high speed of the aircraft (400 mph)). Thank God for that.

Thanks again for your good work, we must never forget.

Jeff Gaumond
Dewey, Az.
USA. February 11, 2009

 


Dear Alain,
My Father, lieutenent Wiktor Socewicz (nr 15564 - blok G) has spent almost all the WWII war in the Murnau. He was a bandmaster (musican military). After wards, he was liberated, he joined to the Polish II Corps in Italy and in England. After his return to Poland in 1948, for many years he has been discriminated by the communist government (has been degradet). He worked in music education.
Your website brinks back memories and enables me to share some family history with my doughters.
You have my permision to use photos, if you want.

There is polish book about POW in Murnau:
Stefan Majchrowski, Za drutami Murnau, Warszawa 1970.
Thank you for the the your WONDERFUL website one more time.
I send new photos.

Best regards

Wiktor Daniel Socewicz. January 31, 2009

 

 

 

 


Dear Olivier and Alain,

Thank you for recovering the photos. My father, Stanislaw, was a POW in Murnau Oflag VIIA. He is the sitting down in the first from the left on the bottom row of the attached photograph. He told of his time in the camp and that there was a well developed theatre. The camp was liberated by the Americans in from what I remember around April 21-28, 1945. After he was liberated, he joined the Polish II Corps in Italy and later immigrated to Canada from the UK in 1948. For your information, many of the officers in the photographs never returned home because the communist government in Poland would have imprisoned them for 8 years more. Unfortunately, My Father passed away in 1988 before the fall of communism in 1989. I am presently gathering as much information about my Dad (Tata in Polish) and writing down the story of his life for my family and our children, so that they may appreciate what sacrifices my father made.

Thank you once again, hopefully I will be able to pick my father out in the pictures.

Kind regards,

Tad Koscielak, January 15, 2009

 


Dear Alain & Olivier

Among the pictures from Murnau presented on your web site I have found the one attached below, in which is my grandfather’s brother lieutenant Marian Kalita ( with beret and pipe in his mouth

He has spent almost all the 2nd war in the Murnau since 1940 till 1945, before 1940 he was in other ofllag VIIC in Laufen. I’ve got few his portraits painted by his companion in Murnau. Scan of one I have attached below.

You could also see his portrait taken in Poland 1939 after mobilisation, few days ( 2?) before the 2nd War

Best regards and thank you for the site.

Krzysztof Kalita, December 02, 2008

 


Dear Alain,
In my previous e-mail I had mentioned that I had seen that shot up German staff car pushed off the road in front of the main gate at the Murnau camp. Well, more careful perusal of your picture 018 shows the car there in the grass in the right side of the picture close to where the truck is passing. I guess my memory from when I was 6 1/2 years old is pretty good. Just wanted you to know this, and let you feel how important these pictures are to some of us.
Sincerely yours, and thank you again,
Jacek Wrzyszczynski. November 3, 2008


Dear Alain,


Yes, you are more than welcome to use my letter and our family name. One of the pictures that you had added to your website as a result of other readers inputs has my father in it. I am attaching the subject picture so you know which I'm talking about. He is the third POW from the left (with the cigarette in his mouth). I am also attaching a picture that I took in 1991 of Marians grave marker plaque which also includes another mans grave (Roman Gebski) You are welcome to use this picture in your website.
Sincerely yours,
Jacek Wrzyszczynski. October 24, 2008

 

 

 


Dear Alain and Olivier,


First let me thank you for putting up the web site with all the photos from Murnau.
My name is Jacek Wrzyszczynski and my father, Stanislaw Wrzyszczynski, and his two brothers, Bogdan and Marian, spent 5 1/2 years in OFLAG VII A at Murnau so these pictures have great meaning to me. My uncle Marian did not survive, as he was shot on 1 March 1945, just 8 weeks before liberation, by a German guard who used Marians' head for target practice.

Let me tell you our story of Murnau as told to me by my father and experienced by myself:

My father and his two brothers, Marian was the older and Bogdan the younger, all were officers (I think they were all Lieutenants) in different units of the Polish army when the war began in Sep. 1939. My father was captured with the surrender of Modlin, a Polish fort near Warsaw. I don't know where the others were captured. At any rate, they all ended up spending the rest of the war in the same POW camp, in the same building and the same room. Probably a result of German efficiency.
On 1 March 1945, the prisoners were ordered confined to quarters because of an American air raid. Bombers, probably on their way to or from Munich only 40-50 miles away. My father, his two brothers, and another man were in their room talking, with Marian at the window, with his back to the window, conversing with those inside. A bullet came through the window and hit Marian in the back of his head, killing him. The guard that shot him claimed that Marian was signaling to the American bombers (which were probably flying at about 30000 feet) and was given a 200 Mark reward and two weeks leave.
On your pictures 172 and 173 there are several roofs of large buildings showing on the ridge line. That was the SS camp/barracks from where the SS car that was shot up came from.

My father told me that the German POW camp commander was preparing to surrender the camp to the Americans who were expected at any moment. The German commander and the ranking Polish officer were standing at the front gate with the German holding the white flag. The SS car pulled up and one of the occupants shot the commander in the jaw with his pistol. At that moment the first American armored vehicle showed up and fired on the SS men killing them. My father always believed that the Germans from the SS camp came with the intentions of elimination all the POWs. Other than the above addition, the story as told in the narration on the website
www.wingfoot101.us/murnau matches my fathers account of the event completely.

After liberation my father returned to Poland under an assumed name and with false papers since he was afraid that the communists would arrest and deport him to Siberia if they could get him. (Another story I won't go into now) He got my mother, myself and Bogdans wife and smuggled us all out of Poland and back to Murnau where we became DPs (Displaced Person). I, myself, remember seeing that German car which, by then, had been shoved onto the side of the road at the front gate of the camp. I also remember seeing the bullet hole in the window glass made by the bullet that killed Marian. As best I can remember this was the summer of 1945 and there were still rogue elements of the German army hiding in the Bavarian mountains. We lived for a short time in the old POW camp and then were moved to that former SS camp which was turned into a DP/refugee camp. We lived there for more than a year. In 1949 we came to the US and started a new life. My father died in 1968 and I am now retired in Phoenix, Arizona.

Many Years ago I found pictures of the liberation event in a book titled "A Pictorial History of the SS, 1923-1945" by Andrew Mollo and published by Bonanza Books. The pictures are on page 171.

Thank you again for posting these pictures. They bring back memories and enable me to share some family history with my children and grandchildren.

Sincerely and with love,

Jacek Wrzyszczynski. October 17, 2008

 


Here is a drawing by Marcin Borcz's grandfather

Murnau art, done by prisoners during WWII, will be on the Polonus web site about june 2008.

 


Dear Olivier and Alain Rempfer,

On the internet I discovered your website on the Murnau camp - it was amazing to see that it really existed! The familyhistory of my fathers site has always been a bit of a mystery that I was desperately wanting to find out. He was born in 'a camp in Murnau' on April 9 1945, but the exact whereabouts noone in my family could or would tell me.
His mother was Dutch, his father was an Italian prisoner - my fathers passport says he was born in Murnau, Germany. That is the only thing I know. I suspect that my grandmother worked there, but I am not sure. Her possible dubious role could be the reason of the silence around the birth of my father.
I am so curious if anyone knows the names of my grandmother and grandfather Jacoba Leydsman (originally from Groningen, Netherlands) and Severo Fadel (Torino, Italy), so that I can finally discover the whole story of my father, grandfather and grandmother. The war has been of great influence in all these lives.
Thank you very much for your information, the website and the efford you take with the website. Reading the stories and the comments reminds me of how important it is to keep this period alive. Even for a 35-year old like I am.

You can also place this mail on the website. Maybe someone else has known my grandparents.

Kind regards,

Alina Nubé,
The Netherlands, February 14, 2008.

alinanubeAThotmail.com

 


Liberation of the camp by the 101st Cavalry :, www.trackingthe101st.com website created by Melaney Welch Moisan, from Salem, Oregon.


Dear Olivier Rempfer,

Olivier, thank you so much for your site. I have an uncle who is no longer living, Franciszek Buczek, who was a POW in Oflag VII Murnau.

I am attaching a jpeg image of an envelope sent from there which has a letter to his brother Alexander Buczek, who had immigrated to the United States in 1909. The letter is dated May 19, 1941. I am also attaching a picture of him in 1934.

You have my permission to use these if you so wish.

Again, thank you for the wonderful site.

John Buczek, October 9, 2007

 

 

 


By accident I came across an information about your webpage "Forgotten Photos" in the polish monthly paper "Wiedza i Zycie" (Science and Life) and was immediately struck by the mention of POW Camp Murnau. I visited your site and recognized some of the pictures - or buildings on them anyway! My grandfather - Stanislaw Barcz - a polish soldier form the town of Piaski by Lublin, was a prisoner in Murnau from 1939 until the liberation. He even participated as an amateur actor in most of the plays at the camp theater! After the liberation he came to Italy and joined the polish forces stationed there, later studied veterinary science in Bolonia (and obtained his doctorial diploma there) and after the war came to Great Britain from where he decided to return to communist ruled Poland (a decision he later came to regret sometimes) and from then on worked as a veterinary doctor in Pulawy and Lublin until his retirement and death in the early 1990s.

Anyway, the main part of the war he spent in Murnau. I havent recognized him on any picture but even so, I was VERY moved to see after all these decades the photos, which for me are no longer "forgotten". I send you a couple of the pictures from Murnau that I myself possess.

Thank you very much for publishing the "forgotten photos"!
Yours,
Marcin Barcz , June 17, 2007

 


Hi from Australia.

Stan Majcherkiewicz has passed on your email and the web address for the photos. Thank you for finding the photos and posting them on the web. They are a wonderful collection and record of the Murnau POW camp.

My father-in-law was interned in 1944 until liberation. He then travelled over the Alps to join other Poles in Italy before immigrating to Australia.

Unfortunately, we have little knowledge of the camp and details of his time during the war, but your photos provide a significant view of life in the camp and liberation.

I would like to view the whole collection. Perhaps one day you may be able to include more on the web.

Please keep in touch and let me know if I can be of assistance in any manner.

Kind and sincere regards
William Blunt, May 6, 2005


THANK YOU !!!!
These are incredible photos !!!!
Incredible web site !
Stan Majcherkiewicz, Wednesday, May 04, 2005


Greetings from a very summery Australia !

I am looking for any information on the Polish Officers POW camp located near Murnau, Bavaria, during WW2. It was Oflag VIIA.

An assistance in tracking down information would be appreciated.

Regards

Tom Wodzinski

tomwodz@pcug.org.au
Canberra, AUSTRALIA
From : http://archiver.rootsweb.com/th/read/POLAND-ROOTS/1998-02/0887458351


Posted by John Krubski on November 22, 2004 at 15:06:42:

My father was a Polish POW held at OFLAG VIIA in Murnau at the end of the war. It is my understanding that the 12th Armored Division liberated the camp in April after a skirmish with German troops. I am trying to find more information about this specific event. Thanks.

And thanks to the 12th!

krubski@krubski.com


I am trying to find anyone who may have been at Auschwitz (Oscwiecim) during the years 1942 - 1945. Both my father's parents died there. We do have the notification from the Gestapo of their deaths, however we would like to hear from anyone who could tell us about them there. My father was an officer in the Polish Army, he was captured during the first days of the war and sent to Murnau in Germany, where he was held prisoner till the end of the war when he was finally released and joined the Allied Occupation Forces in Germany.

My father was one of thousands of young Polish Officers to stay at Oflag VIIA in Murnau. He did not speak much about his time there so I don't have many stories to impart, but I would be interested to hear from any survivors if there still are any. My father recently died at age 93. Izabella C. Mrozik.

Izabella Mrozik
imrozik@pacbell.net
imrozik@sonic.net
Sebastopol, California, USA
From : http://www.holocaustforgotten.com/search.htm


Polish book : Kisielewicz, Danuta, 1991. Oflag VII A Murnau. Opole. Pages: 214 + illustrations


Prisoner of War : The web site of Mark Hickman about the experiences of Prisoners of War, of any nationality, during World War 2.


Un vétéran américain Benjamin Bernard Barenbrugge raconte son arrivée dans la région de Murnau. Il appartenait aux 10th Armored Tigers.

"The Germans had blown the road off the side of the mountain, so we had to stop. We pulled back to Murnau, Germany. It was May 1945, and thank God the War was over! (...) We liberated a concentration camp holding several thousand Polish soldiers. We gave them all of the extra candy and cigarettes we had. Boy, were they happy! We never saw any American soldiers in camps in our area. Most of the homeowners had migrated ahead of our columns, deeper into Germany, out of harm’s way. When we reached Murnau, we received some well-deserved rest and relaxation. We stayed in some big, fancy houses that we had taken over on the shores of Lake Staffelsee. It was a beautiful lake in the Alps, with a nice swimming beach." Benjamin Bernard Barenbrugge

From :
http://www.tankbooks.com/stories/vetbulge.htm


Mail trouvé sur le site : http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~buczekfamily/officers2.htm

"Murnau was liberated by the Americans. The version I've heard, is that the Germans were aware of the coming liberation, and wired the camp for detonation. The prisoners also knew what was going on, and when allied planes were heard overhead, overpowered the German guards and opened the gates for the Americans. My father, and many other Polish officers, eventually served in Italy under British command. The British may have record of Franciszek if he followed a similar path."

Anna

Date: Thursday, December 28, 2000 4:42 PM"

Si le camp a été miné par les Allemands la photo n°11 où l'on voit un officier allemand annonçant quelque chose aux prisonniers avant de s'enfuir, prend une signification toute particulière. A l'extérieur, derrière la grille toujours fermée du camp, un soldat attend l'officier et son interprète (l'homme qui porte l'aigle nazi sur la poitrine) et une certaine animation semble régner, comme si le départ était hâtif ...


 


..........

(left photo : les films du Losange)

En 2002 le cinéaste polonais Andrzej Wajda a tourné un film sur le massacre de Katyn où, en 1940, 22.000 officiers polonais ont été exécutés d'une balle dans la tête par les agents du NKVD, la police politique soviétique, sur ordre personnel de Staline. Les 5.000 officiers épargnés par ce massacre ont été déportés au camp de Murnau. Le personnage principal de ce film, s'inspirant d'une histoire vraie, est un officier polonais, activiste des Jeunesses Communistes. Pendant la Seconde Guerre mondiale, celui-ci se retrouve interné à Murnau, tandis que son frère a été exécuté à Katyn. Après la découverte des charniers d'avril 1943, il est chargé de mener une enquête officielle sur cette tragédie. Sa vie est bouleversée et ses convictions socialo-communistes ébranlées lorsqu'il apprend que ce sont les Soviétiques, et non les Allemands, qui sont responsables de ces massacres. Le propre père d’Andrzej Wajda était militaire de carrière et a été fusillé à Katyn en 1940. Le cinéaste écrit :

"My father, Jakub Wajda, lived only to the age of 40. He was captain in the 72nd Infantry Regiment and died at Katyn. But until 1989 we were not allowed to make an inscription on the family tomb, saying where he was killed. The censorship was so strict and the ban on all information on this subject so rigorous that when I recently tried to find a copy of the newspaper, published by Germans during the war, with the list of Katyn victims, my father's name among them, it turned out that the paper simply did not exist. Some mysterious hand removed the relevant copies from the library collection, so the experience of living through perhaps the most shocking moment of my life, when I could find out from a German paper that my father had been murdered, was denied to me." Andrzej Wajda

 


Sur cette photo (de date inconnue) on peut voir au premier plan les baraquements du camp Murnau, plus loin la ville de Murnau, le lac Staffelsee au bord duquel patrouillent probablement les soldats américains de la photo n°19, puis en fond les sommets enneigés des Alpes. La route qui se trouve à droite du camp est vraisemblabement celle sur laquelle on peut voir les chars américains des photos n° 13, 14, 15, 17, 18.

 


 

(A letter from Tom Wodzinsky, April 29th 2005) :

To all of you with whom I have corresponded over the years about Oflag VIIA (Murnau), today (April 29) is a special anniversary – the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the POW camp by the American army. I hope that you can spare a few moments to remember those who suffered while in the camp, thank those who liberated them, and appreciate what a lot of the camp survivors did with their lives afterwards. For many of us, we have a lot to thank them for – who we are and where we live.

Here is a brief description of the day:

On Sunday the 29th of April 1945 the POWs awoke to the sound of gunfire from the direction of Munich (to the north of the camp). An American plane circled overhead and dropped its wings a number of times in acknowledgment of the POWs in the camp.

In the early afternoon, on the orders of (German) Captain Pohl, the 40 or so camp guards relinquished control of the watch towers and handed in their weapons.

At around 15:00, and as the American army approached the town of Murnau from the north, a small group of cars with SS-men approached the camp from the direction of the town. The Americans were approaching from the opposite direction. When they met just outside the front gate of the camp, gunfire erupted, upon which most of the SS cars turned around and fled back to town. The lead car opened fire whereupon they came under more concentrated fire from the Americans. 2 SS men died (Colonel Teichmann and Captain Widmann). Prisoners climbed on to the front fence and watched proceedings cheering the Americans on. 2nd Ltnt Alfons Mazurek was also killed by a stray bullet during the exchange of fire.

2 of the American tanks pursued the SS-cars which had turned around fleeing back into the town of Murnau. Another tank entered the camp through the main gate. One of the Americans was Corporal Richard Pawlowski from Chicago. Another of the soldiers was Frank ? from Kalisz (Poland).

Oflag VIIA was liberated by Troop B, 116th Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron (MECZ), Combat Command A of the 12th Armored Division, XXI Corps of the American 7th Army, on 29th April 1945.

According to 12 Armored Division records (Daily Journal) the camp was liberated at 16:55 in the afternoon. The 116th was the second squadron of the 101st Cavalry Group.

Task Force 2 contained Co. A and/or B 66th Armoured Infantry, plus Co. C of the 43rd Tank Battalion and a platoon of light tanks from Co. D of the 43rd Tank Battalion.

I attach a photograph of the minutes just prior to the moment of liberation as the American’s approach the front gate and encounter a German SS car coming from the other direction. It is highly likely that the photo was taken by Lt. Edward C. Newell of the US Army Signals Corp.

The printed caption on the rear of the photo reads:

"ETOHQ45 29Apr U.S. Army Signal Corps

German staff car, carrying two SS inspectors and others, unknowingly drives into the head (on road) of an armored column which is in the process of liberating this concentration camp. Lead tank opens fire killing the occupants (center). Some prisoners hanging on the fence cheer, others run upon hearing the gunfire.

7A TRP BM, 116th CAV RCN SQDN (MECZ), CCA, 12TH A(rmored) D(ivision), XXI CORPS, Murnau, Germany."

 

 

 


 

The whole collection of the photos about Murnau I found can be loaded in full size (3300x2000 each) at : http://hollow.one.free.fr/murnau/. Photographs are rough from scanner. Some of them have been fixed or cropped by Carol Celinska Dove in order to enable someone to be identified, at http://hollow.one.free.fr/murnau/fixedphotos/
Toute la collection de photos de Murnau que j'ai trouvée peut être chargée en pleine définition (3300x2000 chacune) à :
http://hollow.one.free.fr/murnau/. Les photos sont brutes de scan. Certaines ont été retouchées et recadrées par Carol Celinska Dove pour permettre une meilleure identification des personnes, à : http://hollow.one.free.fr/murnau/fixedphotos/

Merci des renseignements que vous pourrez apporter sur ces photos. Thank you for any information about those photos


Olivier and Alain Rempfer