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Oral history interview with Frank Moran

Oral History | Accession Number: 2014.51.91 | RG Number: RG-50.759.0091

Frank Moran discusses his experiences during WWII when, in 1944, he was a 21-year-old Staff Sergeant in the 8th Air Force; being shot down in August 1944 and remaining a Prisoner of War for almost a year; being held in a POW camp at Barth, Germany near the Baltic Sea (Stalag Luft I); hearing artillery fire for several days in April 1945 as the Russian Army approached the camp; the ditches that had been dug for the POWs and the American senior officer being able to talk the German Commandant out of killing them; the German guards fleeing the camp and the prisoners breaking down the doors; hijacking the local mayor’s car and going with two other pilots towards a nearby airport; driving by another prison camp; finding that all the equipment had been taken from the airport; returning to the other prison camp and finding that it was a concentration camp with prisoners from Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, and Russia; the condition of the inmates, many of whom were unable to walk (those who could walk had already been marched out); seeing approximately 30 two-story brick buildings filled with 3,000-4,000 prisoners, many of them naked, and men on the 1st floor and women on the 2nd floor; the overwhelming stench of the camp; seeing furnaces that were still hot with burned bodies in them and stacks of dead bodies ready to be burned; finding one prisoner who spoke English (he had lived in the United States for 10 years) and hearing from him how the Germans had killed tens of thousands of prisoners by taking about 250 prisoners at a time in garbage boats and opening the bottom hatch, dumping them into the ice-cold Baltic Sea to drown; the physical condition this inmate was in (his legs had swollen to 3 times their normal size); his comparison of the POW camp he had survived and the Barth concentration camp; starvation in both camps and the concentration camp prisoners going without food much longer than the POWs; experiencing during the war a horrible rail journey lasting about a month, where only half of the POWs could lay down at one time in their overcrowded cattle car and with very little food; only 115 of the 150 POWs surviving the journey; the conditions in the concentration camp still being a shock to the POWs despite the hardships they had also faced; returning to the POW Camp, where the Russian Army had finally arrived; the follow-on troops providing radio communications to London, which brought more help to the camp; 35 Red Cross marked trucks with 10 doctors arriving and treating the POWs; the POWs taking the doctors to the concentration camp to tend to those inmates; the doctors’ shock at the conditions of the camp inmates; the evacuation of the POWs to Camp Lucky Strike in Le Havre, France; eating food he had missed since being a POW; planning a trip in 1994 to return to the camp; and having issues at night when he thought back about his war-time experiences.


Some video files begin with 10-60 seconds of color bars.
Interviewee
Frank Moran
Interviewer
Mary Cook
Nita Howton
Date
interview:  1994 February 12
Language
English
Extent
2 sound cassettes : analog.
Credit Line
United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Collection, Gift of Mary Cook and Nita Howton
 
Record last modified: 2020-07-27 15:22:19
This page: https://collections.ushmm.org/search/catalog/irn80911