Segment 10

Annotation

Edward LaPorta does not recall the date he was captured at Kasserine Pass in North Africa. It was sometime midway through the battle. LaPorta believes that the reason he was captured was because they had been ordered to send the information they learned back to the commanding officer over the phone. When a person goes on a mission like that there are three things that can happen and one of them is good. They could get back to their own lines, they could be captured, or they could be killed. LaPorta believes that when he volunteered his commanding officer was glad. LaPorta was always able to find his way out of the desert even when it was dark. LaPorta made it through the war but knows nothing about the other six men captured with him. LaPorta was held in the work camp for about five months. From there he was sent to Stalag 3B in Furstenberg, Germany. The POWs were put on box cars at the train station in Reggio. Next to the train station was a school that the Germans had filled with ammunition, food, and other war supplies. There were no kids in that school. They did not fight the war according to the Geneva Convention. There were also spies everywhere, American and German. The Americans knew that there were no kids in that school but they did not know that the POWs were being moved on the day they were and bombed the school. They train got out of the station safely and the POWs started on their trip to Germany. LaPorta was on the train for about four days. They did not have anything to eat. There was no breeze coming through because the doors were locked. At one of the places they stopped they saw a push wagon loaded with candy. The prisoners raided the wagon and the German guards did not try to stop them. The candy held them over for a couple more days. After a couple of days it started to smell very bad in the boxcar. They did stop at another camp for about two or three days. Then they were put on another train. While they were on the train from Reggio to Germany they stopped in Naples. The Italian soldiers manning the camp they stopped in fed the prisoners very well. Italy was never in war against the United States. At the time Italy was divided into two governments. The camp they stopped in was run by troops of King Victor Emmanuel III. There were also a few Germans there but not many. LaPorta had been wounded in the ankle during the bombing raid at Reggio and that was treated at the camp in Naples by the king’s troops. After four or five days at the camp n Naples they were shipped to Stalag 3B and from there to Stalag 2B where the ovens and the gas chambers were. Stalag 3B was a bad prison camp. The prisoners did what they could to make it livable. The food was not even good enough to be called food. Once a day they got a bowl of very watery rutabaga soup. If they were lucky they got a piece of rutabaga in it. The only thing the guys really got to eat was what they were able to buy from the Russians. They were supposed to get a Red Cross package per person per month but the Germans had a good time eating them. Every two or three months they would get a Red Cross package for two people to share. It was not much but it was better than nothing. When LaPorta’s parents found out what camp he was in his parents started sending him packages. The POWs were allowed by the Germans to have one package sent to them per month. LaPorta’s parents sent him packages every month but he only ever received one of them. When the guys got packages from home they shared them with the other POWs. They never hoarded them. When they got stuff from the Russians they shared that too. They paid a visit to the Russians almost every night. Other than what the prisoners were able to do with it the camp was in sad shape. The buildings had window openings and frames but no glass in them. They had no hot water or heat in the buildings. On some mornings LaPorta would have to take a cold water shower with snow blowing in on him. LaPorta took a cold shower every morning.

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