The Shoe Leather Express – Day 85

(Posted: February 22, 2012)

The following on page 30 of Joe O’Donnell’s  The Shoe Leather Express – Book 1:

“May 1, 1945 Zarrentin

Our arrival at Zarrentin was just one more day of sleeping in a barn and sifting through and around the farm for any signs of food.  We were told that a cow would be slaughtered for us for food, and much to our surprise, the farmer actually slaughtered one of his cows, but the anticipated delight of a feast of fresh meat was short lived.  We were ordered to move out immediately, while the farmer was still in the process of dressing the cow.  Not to be deprived of fresh meat, I confiscated the cow’s heart in belief that this portion of meat would carry with less spoilage than other portions.  Why?  I don’t know!  I placed this bloody heart in a cardboard carton and prepared to move out.

Escape was still the utmost concern of every “Kriegie” and any opportunity should be taken advantage of to escape.  Of course, it was impossible for everyone to make an escape attempt at the same time, but it might be possible for one or two to make an attempt.  But on this day – not knowing our liberation was a day off, more than 20 Kriegies decided to remain in the barn, burrowing beneath tons of hay, hoping the German guards would overlook their absence and leave the farm without them.  This method of escape always failed and only delayed our departure, for if 500 Kriegies came into a farm, 500 must be counted to leave.  So a head count was taken and 20 showed up missing.  the German guards had a very simple method of retrieving the missing Kriegies.  They ordered them to come out of the barn, otherwise they would shoot into the hay.  Verbal orders were ignored, but with the first round of machine gun fire, the roll call was completed and we were on our way with 20 “Kriegies” spitting hay and much wiser for the abortive attempt to escape.

Our next destination, and how far we would walk, was unknown.  We left late in the morning and arrived at the next farm late in the afternoon.  This would indicate that we walked about 8 kilometers to the outskirts of the small town of Gudow.  Again, we were rejected by the farmer to sleep in his barn because we were covered with lice and would contaminate his barn.  His objections were overruled by the German officer in command and we would bed down for the night.

I still had this bloody cow’s heart in the cardboard box, and without cooking facilities, but upon an unusual request by the Germans for two Kriegies that had any cooking experience, I put my skinny frame within two feet of the German guard and 10 minutes later I was stoking a fire under a boiler lined with 50 lbs. of unpeeled potatoes and one bloody cow’s heart.  My cooking partner and I feasted on boiled potatoes and the cow’s heart, sharing the heart with others.  After three to four vats of boiled potatoes, we bedded down for the night.”

One response to “The Shoe Leather Express – Day 85”

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