Kriegie Life

Kriegie Life: The Book, Part Four

Kriegie Life: The Book, Part One
Kriegie Life: The Book, Part Two
Kriegie Life: The Book, Part Three
Kriegie Life: The Book, Part Four
The Story Behind the Book
Unpublished Portraits and Illustrations
About Carl Holmstrom
Contact Page
Links and Other Material

Here are the last pages from Carl Holmstrom's Kriegie Life book: 
LIBERATION  !  !    The time for which many  P.O.W.'S  had waited five long years. Others more fortunate had measured their time in months.  To all, however, it meant the parting of many friends---bonds cemented under conditions that proved a man's worth. It became more than generosity when one shared his only crust of bread with a comrade when he, himself, was hungry.
    The War ended, and the time to recall the humorous phases of the adventure has arrived.

Every Kriegie remembers the "raisin brew" when he stored up his sugar and raisins for months to properly celebrate Christmas, New Year's Day and the Fourth of July.  After the raisins had fermented thirty days, an old trombone attached to a jam bucket was used as
a still.  Holidays also meant "Bashes" and concoctions made up of everything in the cupboard.  Occasionally potato-eating contests were arranged when the winner consumed four and a half bowls of mashed potatoes to win six chocolate bars.  Some individuals with large appetites wagered that they could eat the contents of a Red Cross parcel within a day only to find their capacity smaller than their imagination.
     Life in camp was never without its humorous moments even during the blackest days.  Some Kriegies, after boiling white laundry, found a blue sock had been overlooked and
dyed everything a tropical pattern.  Like all communities, it was customary to make weekly social visits.  Close friends were asked to come down down to the room for a "brew".  As a group, the Kriegies were very talkative and argumentative in their early months of imprisonment.  The "There-I-Was"  stories were told and retold whenever an audience was available.
    Bull-sessions covered every possible subject as no prisoner hesitated to give his opinion on anything.  Incidents of one's life were of interest, but personal problems or
complaints usually brought on the remark,  "See the Chaplain and have your ticket punched !"
    During the summer months, the dice game craze became the camp pastime.  Chocolate bars were used as the medium of exchange because they were considered the most valuable camp possessions.
    Mail, the main interest every day, was never lacking in surprises.  Practically all letters had words deleted by the censors.  The bulletin boards were used to display humorous mail as well as  "Dear  Lieutenant"  letters which informed all Kriegies how "the girls they left behind"  were being entertained by the boys at home.  Many parcels from home arrived with much-needed tooth powder spread over the contents or with the major portion removed by the omniscient censor.

   “Baiting the Goons” was always enjoyed, especially when the search by the Gestapo ended with the Kriegies appropriating more German gear than was confiscated. Once the Germans, in an attempt to destroy a tunnel, blew the roof off of a barracks. It always amazed the Germans that Kriegies could work, endure, play and laugh all at the same time.

Right there in barren Nazi Germany with its tragedy, pathos and humor was, still, a little bit of America.  

The Honey Wagon Man

(Lef to right, top to bottom):
Alvin Vogtle; Birmingham, Alabama
Cliff Pearson; Cleveland, Ohio
Major Houston; Dundalk, Maryland
"Tex"  Newton; Cameron, Texas
A.  Kramarinko; Chicago, Illinios
R.  C.  Miller; Chicago, Illinios

I.  G.  McDaniel; Hot  Springs, Arkansas

Don  Eldridge; Chicago,  Illinios

Hank  Keller; New Kensington, Pennsylvania

Left to right, top to bottom:
W. Billig; S.  Miami,  Florida
Bill  Gravins; Richmond,  Virginia
Russ Lyons;  Beverly Hills, California
Colonel C.  Goodrich; Atlanta, Georgia
Major  J. C. Ega; Manitowoc, Wisconsin
Paul  Fauerso; The  Dalles,  Oregon
"Casey"  Jones; Parkton,  Maryland
Ray  Grim; Olympia, Washington
Joe  Boyle; Teaneck, New Jersey


   Appel----roll call
   Around the bend----mentally deranged
   Bash----coffee or  tea
   Condendo----sweetened condensed milk
   Dobie stick----used to wash clothes
   Ersatz----(Ger.) synthetic
    Ferret----guard assigned to escape activities
    Foodacco----canteen of food and tobacco
    Goon baiting----teasing the Germans
    Goon box----guard box
    Green Death soup----dehydrated vegetable soup  
    Honey wagon----sanitation wagon
    Jam bucket----large pail originally containing jam
    Kein Drinkwasser---- (Ger.) no drinking water, lead container
    Kriegie---- (Ger.) from "Kriegsefangener" meaning P.O.W.
    Logging sack time----sleeping
    Luft----(Ger.) air corps
    Oflag---- (Ger.)  P.O.W. camp
    P.O.W. ---- prisoner of war
    Raisin brew----alcoholic beverage made from raisins
    Sack artist----habitual sleeper
    Silent treatment----refusing to converse with an individual
    Stalag---- (Ger.) P.O.W. camp
    Stooge----person elected to do chores
    Stroller----moving guard
    There-I-Was stories----stories of one's capture
    Weasel----ferret's assistant

Kriegie Life: Sketches by a Prisoner of War in Germany
© 2009, by Elizabeth Holmstrom, John Holmstrom, Susan Kohnowich and Anne Shumate.