Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Memories, 1942-45

Edgar graduated from Philadelphia's Central High School in 1945, class of 184, and can positively confirm German POW's occupied an armory behind CHS. The squat 2-story brick building looked like what it was supposed to be - a place to house ammunition.

WWII and the draft called for 18 year olds to register. Some of Edgar's classmates just missed being in the Battle of the Bulge. To physically prepare for Boot Camp, emphasis was put on fitness. Wait until you read the rest of this. It sounds almost like today's preachings.

Starting in late winter in 1944, twice a week, each PE class ran in single file, up the long and steep hill, passed LaSalle, turned left, and ran through a wooded area. We ran past the National Guard Armory which occupied about a block, including grounds and the building. This armory housed about 60 or 70 German POWs. Most of them ignored us but some of them looked at us through the barbed wire fence. Of course, they were guarded by armed military who stood around, observing.

The POWs wore light khaki uniforms with light khaki ball caps. The guards wore army uniforms. It was rumored that these POW's had been part of Rommel's Afrika Corps.

They looked harmless and were nothing to fear. Edgar personally had an experience with a Nazi family when he was only 6 years old. After visiting with blond and blue-eyed Wilma, and playing with her elaborate train set, he noticed two decorations on the wall. Remember, he was only 6 and oblivious to world events. What did he know? When Edgar's mother heard the story, she paled and told him never to go there again. The decorations were a Nazi swastika flag and a giant picture of Hitler.

This took place in Philadelphia in the year 1933.

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