Stalag Luft 6 and 4 – Notebook – “Home”

(Posted: June 28, 2011)

Oh, how I studied this sketch, thinking that it may have been the inside of the barracks at Stalag Luft VI.  I had been informed by ex-Kriegies* that there were not two stories in Stalag Luft IV or Stalag Luft I.  Therefore, I felt that his diagrams had to be from VI.  Those that I have shared this page with in my pursuit of an explanation had never seen anything like it.  It was not familiar to them.  What then could my father have been drawing?  What was he thinking of?

Suddenly, in looking at this floor plan more intently, it was very obvious what my father had drawn.  He had been dreaming of his abode at 197 Elm Street, Salamanca, New York – the location where he entered this great world.   This address was the address of the dwelling where he was born, February 23, 1923, and raised in and that would become the house that he lived and raised his family in.  Of course he could not have known then but it would be his address until the day that he died, May 4, 2004.  His longing for the comforts of home is evident in this sketch.  It was his way of keeping the memory of his habitat and his family alive.  He had to wonder if he would ever return to the warmth and the security of his domicile with the family that he left behind.  He had to question if he would ever see them again.

 How could I have missed what he had drawn when this was also my home for 21 years?  I guess because I was in the mindset that it had to be relevant to his camp life.  I thought it had to be a place that he was looking at or living in at the time of the drawing. 

It is so obvious to me now that I’ve let my mind wander outside of the Camp.  There is the front porch and the door dad would have had to speculate if he would ever walk through again in his lifetime and to the right was the living room with the easy chair and comfortable couch.  To the back right of the lower floor is the dining room.  To have a home cooked meal surely seemed only a figment of the imagination as he drew the table. Between the living and dining rooms is the furnace grate providing warmth that was scarce in his current environment.  To the left of the dining room is the kitchen with a small porch off to the back.

 Upon entering the front door there is a hallway to the kitchen and to the left of the hallway is the stairway to the upper level.  Upstairs to the right of the stairs is a hallway and the first room to the right was my mom and dad’s bedroom which at the time of the drawing may have been his mother’s room.  This room was also shared at one time by his 3 sisters.  At the end of the hall is the bathroom.  The two rooms on the left of the hall are bedrooms.  My father was born in one of these bedrooms and I’m not certain which one but I do know that the first bedroom on the left was my dad’s and it was the room that he spoke to his sister, Helen, in the night he came home. (He was dropped off downtown by bus and came walking down Elm Street to meet his family.  He asked his sister to come to his room that evening.  He needed to talk and he told her of some of his trials during the last couple of years.  That was the one and only time that he would talk about it willingly.) 

Certainly this was the layout of his house – the house he may never see again.  This sketch would help him to keep the memory from dimming.  Oh the yearning he must have felt for his shelter, his family and the necessities of life that are priceless especially when one is deprived of them.

*Kriegies is short for Kriegsgefangenens – German for “prisoners of war.”

8 responses to “Stalag Luft 6 and 4 – Notebook – “Home””

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