Moosburg

We just returned from a short trip to Bavaria, Germany. Our goal was to visit the little town of Moosburg, which was the site of Stalag 7A, a WWII POW camp.

My husband’s father spent the last 6 months of the war in this camp, having been captured in the Saar River Valley, November 19, 1944. He was liberated by American forces April 30, 1945. He was just 20 years old, having had his birthday March 24 while in the camp.

I’m working on a book about his experiences, based on the many personal letters both to and from him and the government documents that were all saved and managed to make it safely to today. I just wish he were still here to tell more of his story.

The photos below are of the camp during the war. Stalag 7A was built to hold 10,000 people, but by the time of its liberation, there were an estimated 100,000-110,000 prisoners there.

Today, Moosburg is a prosperous, charming town, with very little remnants of what happened here 70 years ago.

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About the only remaining vestige of the camp is the memorial plaza and fountain. The former barracks have been torn down, and new housing has been built where they once stood.

The memorial plaza is tucked away among neat and tidy single-family homes and small apartment blocks. It’s really rather difficult to find.

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It’s a lovely, quiet corner that has been done with thoughtfulness and care.

South of the town is the site of the old camp cemetery, rather a more solemn place. All the remains have been re-interred in other cemeteries, but the city of Moosburg bought a small plot of land for a memorial.

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Of the approximately 900 prisoners originally buried here, over 800 were Soviets. The American and British soldiers were treated, for the most part, under the Geneva Conventions, but the Soviet soldiers had no such protections. And, it shows in sheer numbers of those who lost their lives here.

The city of Moosburg has done a nice job of admitting the existence of this painful chapter in its past, while moving forward to become a lovely place today. It gives me hope for the rest of the world that is in turmoil today. Perhaps my grandchildren will one day sit and have dinner in likewise-peaceful place where war is raging today. One can only hope and pray.

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Pooch Finds a Home

A while ago, my mom gave me a stack of yellowed note papers, clipped together. It was the beginnings of a story that her mother, my grandmother, scribbled down years and years ago, the story of their dog Pooch.

I knew right away that I wanted to make this into another book for my grandchildren, so I was eager to get home and begin. The first chapter told the story of how Pooch came to live with my mother’s family; the second chapter had only scant beginnings, but was about the friends Pooch had in his new neighborhood.

There was plenty of story in what was Chapter One to round it out to become a single story/picture book. So, that’s what I did!

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I came away from writing this book with a MUCH higher esteem for children’s book illustrators. Go take a quick gander at the artwork in a random illustrated storybook, and then think about the work, imagination, skill, and dedication it took! Amazing!

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The photo above is my mom, Bula Helen Wells Keene, with her beloved Pooch.

‘Til next time!