Group shot taken at Stalag Luft I in 1945. Merrill is 3rd from the left of the tree in the top row.Merrill Weicker
A series of cartoons that Merrill drew that depict the lighter side of camp life while he was a POW in Stalag Luft I.Merrill Weicker
Cartoons that Merrill drew of Stalag Luft I while he was a POW.Merrill Weicker
A poster that Merrill drew for a Christmas party in 1944 in Stalag Luft I.Merrill Weicker
"There was always tunneling going on and mostly people were involved in sort of diversionary work, if they had you doing something that would draw a crowd and you knew there was something going on."
It was that relatively new deal they had on German plane. They put a vertical [anti-aircraft] cannon that shot straight up and instead of chasing the stream of bombers, they’d fly underneath it and shoot up. And when it didn’t see or hear anything until all of a sudden, just like rattling from the back to the front and then circled around and came back and took another shot. You almost had to fire out the first time around and then we had to abandon aircraft. And both gunners were wounded and both got out but died the next morning, after they were picked up by the Germans and the pilot didn’t get out and four of us got out.
Like it was late November [November 19, 1943] and it was in the mountains above the Moselle valley. And I guess it was up to the cloud level, because it was just like ground fog when I went to land in my parachute, I couldn’t see the ground. I ended up hanging from a tree. I didn’t know whether I was a foot off the ground or 20 feet. And so I finally had to let go, release myself and I went down to about a foot and then slid down about 50 feet down a very sharp embankment.
At morning, I went to climb into a barn on the edge of it and I guess I stirred up the horses because the farmer came out and let out a holler and all of a sudden, there were about six Germans with rifles. I was right up on the Baltic coast, Stalag Luft I [a prisoner-of-war camp for allied airmen located near Barth, in Germany]. Luft is air and Stalag is [short for Stamm-] lager, permanent camp.
When the food was good, it was pretty, not too bad. Because that’s sort of annoying being under the gun all the time but we played lots of sports while the food was good enough. And lots of things - everybody took courses of sorts and stuff. And we gradually developed a, not too bad a library.
But if you came up with a bright idea, you could go to the escape committee and if it sounded good, chances are, they’d say, yeah, but you can’t use it, we want to get somebody back to England if possible. And once in a while, you had to have somebody go out with homemade shears and start trying to cut through the wire at night. But we were on a peninsula in the Baltic so usually, you didn’t get very far.
There was always tunneling going on and mostly people were involved in sort of diversionary work, if they had you doing something that would draw a crowd and you knew there was something going on. And I did lots of maps on parachute silk. They had other guys that could copy German information slips and stuff very well, yeah.
The best escape attempt was just near the end of the war. Some sergeants that had been there for years had gradually made German uniforms that were good enough to pass and pass us and they lined up 16 guys and got them through the main gate to take down to Barth for eye tests under a couple guards in supposed German uniforms. And they got out and then they went back for another 16 and they got some adjutant-type of Englishman who started raising Cain that these men got permission to leave the camp. So the Germans checked into it and they caught them; they were all still together.