Moosburg Online: Stalag VII A
Stalag VII A: Oral history

John P. Bruce From Sagan to Moosburg

"I'm glad to contribute something about that experience at Moosburg. Since I have a little diary I kept along the way from Sagan I can cover, in brief, from there to Spremberg where we boarded box cars and went by rail the rest of the way to Moosburg.

I didn't delve into some things about the unsanitary conditions on the train due to the few relief stops , the difficulties preparing any food at Moosburg, or the fact that nearly everyone was experiencing dysentery from the unsanitary conditions. But that was being experienced all over in the prisoner population, I'm sure.

Being young, early twenties, helped endure all of it. That with the confidence and assurance, at that point in time knowing the status of the war, of a release coming abut fairly soon. The only question was how it would terminate.

I don't remember all that much detail while at Moosburg except the hunger, sleeping in a large tent and diarrhea. The word came out from our ranking officers, after we were liberated, to remain in the camp until we were evacuated. Yet, some just left going on exploratory walks and a few just decided to leave the camp and head to Paris."

Excerpt from John P. Bruce's diary:

We departed on foot, Sat. Jan 27 [1945] at 11 PM in 8 in. of snow and very cold. After covering 30 km, we stopped and rested in barns along the way.

The next day, Sun. the 28th, we departed at 5 PM. The coldest yet with snow. We covered 20 km, arriving at Muskau at 1 AM, Monday the 29th. Shelter was found in a tile factory for much needed rest and warmth from the ovens that were burning.

On Tues, the 30th at 10 am we departed and covered 18 km and spent the night in barns at Graustein.

We left Graustein on Wed, the 31st, at 9 AM for Spremburg, 7 km away. We got soup here, then walked 3 more km to a rail head with box cars waiting. We boarded the box cars at dark, 50 men to a car. These cars were the small, '40 and 8's. Forty men or eight horses. Had a lot of trouble getting everyone a space on the floor. I took my blanket, made a hammock from it and fastened it across the corner of the car.

Friday, Feb 1st, still in our "Pullman", passed through Regensburg and reached our destination, Moosburg, at night as usual. Stayed on board til morning.

Saturday the 2nd, temporarily settled for a few days before going into camp.

The 4th and 5th, still not moved in.

Tues, the 6th - At last we're in after delousing and much needed shower.

Wednesday, the 7th - Gotten Red Cross parcels and believe me the stomach feels much better. We're starting out like new kriegies, banging on tin cans to make utensils and scrounging.

March 3rd - Last day of parcels and strictly German rations until the "white caravan" comes through. No more fuel. Starting on our bedboards. Gotta heat those spuds somehow!

March 10th - Three cheers for the Red Cross. Parcels are in. Honors go to the Swiss Protective Power too.

March 26 - We're on full parcels now - the first since September of '44. We're eating like kings, it seems.

April 10 - Moved into tents yesterday, also half parcels are the thing again.

April 16 - All of Stalag Luft III are here now. Some were detoured to Nuernberg on the way. We had a memorial service Saturday honoring the president's death. We didn't go on half parcels after all, thanks to the colonel. He said we would remain on full parcels until the last crumb left.

April 24 - We've been sweatging out another forceddd march for a week, but the tension is relaxed now after receiving word that war prisoners will not be moved in face of advancing armies. Our boy "Pat" is in Regensburg now which is about 45 miles north of us. Expecting to see those Shermans any time.

Light gunfire just west of the camp started at 10 AM. US fighters buzzed the camp but no enemy planes in sight. I just got out of the trench where I am writing now and saw gunfire from the church steeple in Moosburg, but it has ceased now. I can heara tanks moving around the camp and town. 7th Army, I suppose.

12:40 - Old Glory is flying from the top of the flag pole in Moosburg. Kriegy's dream materializes! The most thrilling scene I've seen in 21 months. Artillery action approaching from the North - probably the 3rd Army.

14:00 - Sherman tanks rolled into camp and we're officially taken over by the 7th Army. We're all ready to pull out of this place. Needless to say, the flap is terriffic.

April 30 - General Patton inspected the camp today. He walked through our tent - asked one of the boys how long our parcel was to last. When told "a week" he said it wasn't enough. Now if he gets us moved out as fast as he moved in, he'll make some happy kriegies happier.

May 9 - Trucked to Straubing where C-47's brought us to Le Havre to be processed and shipped home.

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