POW Letters

Group:
Last letter sent before capture

My grandfather, Harry, was the son of Eastern European Jewish immigrants. He had been married 2 years and had a 10 month old daughter when he enlisting in the army during WWII to fight the Nazis. Stationed in German occupied Italy, he was on a recon mission with another man when they came across a lone German solider. His recon partner wanted to shoot the man rather than take him prisoner, but Harry refused. As they headed back to camp with their prisoner a group of German soldiers caught them. About to shoot them both, the German soldier they had captured, said to keep my grandfather alive because he refused to shoot him. They complied, shot his recon partner, and Harry was interned in a POW camp. These letters - kept by my grandmother, tell the story of so many families during WWII. The 1st image is of the last letter my grandmother received - just 1 week before his capture. The 2nd is the official Missing in Action notice. The 3rd is a letter sent a month later by a Newfoundland HAM operator who caught a POW message over the radio from Harry. The letter is how she learned her husband was alive. The last letter is one she received from the German prison camp. My grandfather returned home less than 90 lbs and in better shape than most due to extra food rations for translating German between prisoners and soldiers. These letters are part of a narrative that was shared with me as a child - a narrative that has always made me proud of what my ancestors stood for.

Place(s): Philadelphia,Italy
Year: 1890

– Jamie Salen

Relationship:  Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more Great-grandchild of im/migrant or more