“The Shoe Leather Express” – The Preparation

(Posted: January 5, 2012)

Imagine knowing that soon you would be evacuated from the Camp that you had been held captive for months.  Imagine that this evacuation would take place during winter in frigid temperatures.  You had been struggling against the cold and depravation inside your barracks as it was and now you knew that you would be moved out in your weakened condition.  You could hear the gunfire getting closer.  You knew that the Russians were advancing the front and that the Germans would not leave you behind to join them.  What would you take with you to persevere in such a state?  What preparations could you make from your meager belongings to assist you in what you were facing?  You will read in “The Preparation” the ingenuity and perseverance of the Prisoner of War.  It is difficult for us who have never lost our freedom to understand just how valuable that it is.  It is also difficult for us who have never been deprived of our life’s necessities, which were luxuries to the POW, to understand just how valuable the simplest possession becomes when you don’t even have the necessities that would be required to walk in the winter weather.  How could you be prepared to take what you will need to survive for who knows how long when you have so little to work with?  Only one who was there could come close to imagining what these men endured.  “The Preparation” gives us an idea of man’s perseverance when faced with and preparing for the most extreme hardships imagineable. . . . . .

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I’d like to note, in the second page of “The Preparation,” which follows, that Joe includes notes from his “Log Book.”  Amazingly, two of the names that he mentions in his “Friday” notes are names that my Father has listed as room mates in his notebooks.  The names are” Siedel” and “Catone.”  For certain, Joe’s and my Father’s paths crossed and this proves it; however, my Father was destined to take a different route out of camp – a route that was a nightmare for him and those who traveled with him  but proved to be a shorter and a much better journey out of Stalag Luft IV which you will see in the future posts. . . . .

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