July-August 2003 Newsletter
For all veterans, relatives and friends of the

Entrance to REIMAHG, German Me 262 Factory Liberated by the 89th

Table of Contents: Click on the Link Below to Go To That Section:

Announcements and Editor's Notes
Society Announcements
Website Developments
Email List Update
Letters and Exchanges

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Announcements, Editor's Notes and Website Developments

Editor's Notes

We appreciate the increasing number of emails and requests for information being received directly from family members, friends of 89th vets, and others. When appropriate, we copy them to the concerned Society Officers, particularly to Organizational Representatives, for reply. We are pleased to announce recent computer-savy volunteers who also wish to help in this increasingly important function.

Usually emails requests come directly to me or my son. Sometimes we can answer them directly and easily and simply copy the request and our reply to the appropriate ORG REP for his information. Quite often, however, a request concerns a specific soldier, unit, battle, event, etc, which requires a direct response from the unit concerned. Accordingly, we forward the request to the appropriate ORG REP for reply. We include also include the request and reply in our next Newsletter.

89th Div Org Reps using internet


BOWERS, Gerry—HQ, 563rd FA Bn--ORG REP

HERBALY, Elmer—L Co, 354th Inf--ORG REP

LANDERS, Mathew P—Sv CO, 353rd Inf--ASST ORG REP

PITTCOCK, J. Duff—Signal Co, Div--ORG REP

KEYSER, Henry G—89th Inf Band, MP, Military Govt--ORG REP

TENNANT, Ralph—1st Bn Hq Co, 355rd Inf--ORG REP

[requesting the FA rep to appoint a Org Rep for emai]

While we attempt to publish a newsletter on a monthly basis, sometimes this is not possible. We also try to minimize this scheduling problem and the need for your surfing the net by sending out a message, using our email list, when it actually goes on line. Please check if you have forwarded us any changes in your email address, including dropping it. We are also constantly trying to correct or eliminate DEAD (meaning non-operative) email addresses (see April TRW issue) and a listing of these are available upon request.. Please recall, that in the unfortunate event of an 89th vet’s incapacitation or demise, a relative or friend may wish to continue receipt of our newsletters by informing us of the name of the incapacitated/deceased, your name, relationship, and email address. One may also wish to maintain his Society membership.

The purpose of this core section of the newsletter is to provide an electronic mechanism for the rapid exchange of information and requests regarding our WWII Division, its veterans, relatives and friends, as well as including current items of related interest. We like to think of this task as primarily gatekeeping, i.e., facilitating networking between our vets and friends and responding to inquiries by drawing on the knowledge of those still with us, particularly those active in our Society with similar responsibilities and concerns. This is graphically illustrated in recent issues. Because of the many messages and follow-ups received, and my difficulty at times to keep them straight, it is requested that each message on the subject include any previous information/correspondence provided.

Letters are not usually included in any order of receipt or importance, with editing kept to a minimum. Editor’s remarks, if any, are included in highlighted brackets, e.g., [ ].

Finally, if you have buddies, relatives or friends who do not have access to the internet, you might wish to suggest that they visit a friend or relative with a computer or their local library. Librarians will help one pull up our website at for viewing and, upon request, print out selected items/stories. Try it! We will also be happy to send the story or issue of interest upon request. Thank you

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Society Announcements

None at this time.

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Website Developments

“The Combat History of 354th Inf. Regiment” is now online. I have received no information or inquiries concerning what assistance we can give to Representatives of the 353rd Inf in their negotiations for accelerating completion of its history, raising additional funds if necessary, for publication, and, insofar as the WWII portion is concerned, with it placement on our website and, hopefully, serialization in the TRW. We will shortly have online the story/history of the 602nd TD Bn when they were attached to the 89th. Two other stories are in process and we plan to add some stories from the April TRW. Efforts are also underway to encourage and assist the 355th to develop its own history and to assist the 89th Recon in preparing their history. Other attached division units, as well as histories at unit levels, are also encouraged. Remember, something is better than nothing!

Too see the 354th History click here: 354th History >>

Your co-webmaster has been busy since his wedding, June 7th, in Grenoble, France. The following stories have been added to the website in the past few months:

This is the story of Larry Coppock's quest to find out more about his father's wartime history. His efforts are divided into three parts:

Rabbittown: The origins of Benjamin Floyd Coppock

Getting Organized

Results: A Letter to My Sisters, About Dad

Sol R. Brandell: Recollections of a World War II Infantryman (added 5/03) An autobiographic account from 1st December, 1942, through 31st March, 1946 in the European Theater of Operations.

Albert Hirsch: Memories of Things and Wings (added 8/03) A brilliant account of combat with 355th in the last two months of World War II.

Henry Keyser:The 89th Infantry Band (added 8/03) Did you know that there was an 89th Division Band? Do you know what Bands do?

Ed Bean: A Wish of a Lifetime Fulfilled (added 8/03) The touching story of Stanley Trochonowicz, a former Polish refuge who became a member of the 89th.

Wes Brown: Reconnaissance (added 8/03) A gripping account of combat on April 21st, 1945.

Geary Stearns and Raymond Kitchell: Experiences at Shrivenham(added 8/03) After the war. an American University was temporarily set up in Shrivenham, England. It operated at the undergraduate level and offer courses in most major fields. A second American University was established in Biarritz, France. For many, this was a unique opportunity while waiting for discharge. The teaching staff was recruited/contracted from universities in the States or available within the ranks in the ETO. The experiences of two soldiers are described.

Fateful Steps Into History (added 8/03) My name is Tom Cleary. I believe you know my father, Bob Cleary, a veteran of the 89th Infantry Division who has previously contacted you regarding the liberation of the Ohrdruf concentration camp. Over the years, I have tried to get my father to talk more publicly about his combat experiences, but like many veterans of "the greatest generation," he is reluctant to discuss this chapter of his life. He feels he did what was asked of him and served his country with honor - end of story. This story was published on the cover of the local section of the San Diego Union-Tribune on May 27, 2002 - Memorial Day.

Ralph Craib: The Forgotten Death Camp (added 8/03) Fifty years ago tomorrow, the 355th U.S. Infantry Regiment and the Fourth Armored Division unveiled to the world scenes of brutality and criminality that is still difficult to comprehend.

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Email List Updates

[Beginning with this issue, email addresses that continually bounce will be labeled MIA (from the wartime phrase, Missing in Action) and eventually dropped from the listings. We would appreciate any communications which correct or confirm this.

ANDERSON, Robert—Hq Btry, Div Arty

BOWERS, Gerry—HQ, 563rd FA

CAMPBELL, Warren—Cn Co, 354th (Deceased)
c/o Grandson Marcus Pearson

CARNELL, Darrel—B Btry, 340th FA

CAPEHART, Charles—Cannon Co., 354th Inf

CLARK, Bill—G Co, 355th Inf [ASTPR-Alfred]

CLEARY, Robert O—89th Recon, 2nd Platoon--MIA

COLOSIMO, Dick—B Btry, 340th FA--MIA
b340fa@yahoo.com (backup)

COPPOCK, Benjamin—F Co, 353rd FA (deceased)
c/o son Larry

CROWE, Roger J—Med, 354th Inf

FRANKEL, Norman—B Co, 355th Inf
c/o grandson, Norman

FRANZEN, Virgil E—M Co, 355th Inf

GILROY, Frank D—89th Recon

GLENCHUR, Harry—Hq. Co, 2nd Bn, 353rd Inf

HALL Jr., Harmon C—Co C. 354th Inf
c/o son, Clinton

HELMS, Howard F—Co I, 354th Inf

HIGGINS, Jack A—G Co, 353rd Inf

MARKOV, George—units [unknown] (Deceased)
c/o son, Mike Markov

MOCK, Ronald E—C Co, 353rd Inf (Deceased)
c/o son. Albert R.

OOT, Earl L.—F Co, 353rd Inf
c/o son Tim

PEARSON, Willie Benjamin Campbell

PENNEKAMP, Bill—89th Signal Co.

PETERSON. Carl L III—son of Society President

TAYLOR, Harold V—G Co, 353rd Inf

WEISS, Murray—Co F, 353rd Inf

ZELLE, Lester—Cn Co, 355th Inf

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The bugles have been silent.

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Letters and Exchanges

[If you sent a message intended for publication in our Newletters but does not appear in the next issue, please inform me and we will check it out.]

An Exchange of interest on Obersalzberg from Kim Spinsby: kim.spinsby@siemens.com

  Original message:

Dear Kim:

I am the archivists of Berchtesgaden/the Eagles Nest and I found you comments of the 89th Inf. Website. Your father had photos of this area post war. We have very little photography in our archives, particularly from the US Occupation time 1945-1952. I hope I am not asking too much, but is there a way we could obtain duplicates of these photos for our archives? In some cases, we borrowed the original negatives and just reprinted them here, in other cases. We even received the photos as donations.
You mentioned that you visited the Eagle’s Nest and found interesting books on the subject. I wrote the “History of the Eagles Nest” which is sold out there.
Maybe you even got a hold of it? Anyway, the web is great-and I am always happy to find hints-like this one-online. Best Greetings from Bavaria.

Florian M. Beierl, Archivist
Schlossplatz 2
83471 Berchtesgaden
Tel (49) 8652-948481
Fax (49) 8652-964387

Kim’s reply

Hello Florian.
I have enjoyed your book, and have the Deutsch CD as well. Vielen Dank for the wonderful efforts in documenting and preserving history!

I have several scrapbooks, and I am not sure I am ready to part with them yet, but certainly willing to share the contents. I haven’t has a chance to do anything with them for the past few months, both business and personal demands.

I am not sure how many are of the Obersalzberg/Berchtesgaden area, but believe there might be a significant number (25-50?) taken in ’45 or ’46. Post war occupation, my father was an MP at the Deutschland-Osteerreich border, and sometimes assigned to Kehlstein I believe. I haven’t verified since your email, and my email to the 88th but think there are several photos of the Kehlstein entrance, Goering’s quarters, and the outsides of bunker/emplacements. (I also may be dreaming, and have mixed Dad’s photos with what you and others have published.

They would be after the bombing and capture. Some structures were damaged by that time, and I was told the tunnels were “flooded and sealed”. My 50 year old recollections may not be correct, my dad passed away over 30 years ago.

I certainly will scan and send digital copies as soon as I can, and may be able to set up a 35mm copy stand for copying the black and white photos. With time, and family approval (my adult daughter), It may be possible to donate them to a permanent archive to be stored and maintained. I will make CDs of the images possible (good res digital photos do take up storage space, and hard to email in quantity.) I will try to expedite specific requests, and will start with the Kehlstein photos 1st.

My mother donated a 16mm propaganda film (in very poor shape) some years ago, but it was only of troops in review, maybe some rolling equipment, and 3rd Reich leadership; nothing specific on Obersalzberg/Berchtesgaden. It was a “captured” copy in a steel film can. Celluloid didn’t age well.

Interestingly, we have seen a few published pictures, and I think (long ago) maybe film footage where my father was pointed out. He wore a white (yellow?) silk scarf under his wool coat at the neck because he was allergic to the wool coat.

I will be away several times in the next few weeks, but will bring the scrapbooks to work and start the slow progress of scanning (between other tasks), when I return. I hope/may get a chance to visit again in the next year or 2, as I work for Siemens, and my sister is in Nuremberg.

Mit freundlichen Grussen

[I hope others might jump upon this opportunity to contribute to this history and contact Kim directly (copy to me will be appreciated).]

Thanks from Howard Helms, 354th In: Gunnerbuck@netzero.com

  After recently discovering the 89th Website, I have completed a detailed study of our exploits amd reproduced much of the material for my personal portfolio. Needless to say, I was deeply moved by many of the memories that came to mind in reading the “Day to Day Combat successes if the 354th Regt". You and your son are to be commended for this extra ordinary literary effort which will insure the Perpetuation of our Division’s role in World War II. With warm regard and deep appreciation. Howard E. Helms, LTC, USA (RET) (Then, PFC, Co I, 354th)

[Second email from Howard]

Thanks again. Appreciate your prompt reply along with the additional background on the normative history of the Division. Although the other Niners might have written the rough draft, I’m sure you and your son put the continuity and polish to the finish product-Great job. By the way, I would be interested in the identity of the other three writers. I contacted 3 of the Co I, 354th troopers listed with email IDs, in the Division Address listing and received a lengthy reply  from one which included 11 additional Co I members who are in the Assoc.[Society] To my surprise, my platoon leader and Platoon Sgt were listed. As time permits, I will go hardcopy, which is always a drag, and bring them up to date. Little do they know that they made a Regular Army career man out of me. Please send the Info on joining the Assoc.[Society] , and also send any email and other info that you see fit. Warm regards. H F. Helms.

Request for Assistance from Wm R. Wood, 914 FA: wmrwds@bektel.com

Just looked over your website, and am suitable impressed. I’ve been looking for information about my Uncle Ben and have been frustrated for years. My Mother’s information consisted of: He was in the army. He was a Sargeant. Not helpful. I tried accessing his military records but met the usual roadblocks. I contacted Uncle Ben’s widow but before we could work out a plan, she passed away. I sent the paper work to her daughter but she seems uninterested. However, her son is wild to see anything connected to his grandfather and was grateful for the old family photos I could supply for him. Seems Uncle Ben was placed well in the background once my Aunt entered a new phase in her life. Suppose this is to be expected as that period of time held some horror for her. I would like some further information to pass on to the grandson of my uncle and would appreciate any help you could give me.

Vitals are as follows: Coordes, Bernard L., s/s 37 286 673, Staff Sergeant, 914th FA Bn, 89th Division. We have no history of Uncle Ben’s training and/or movements while stateside and my only information on foreign service is stated above. I do know that Uncle Ben died in the barracks due to an accidental shooting. I don’t know if that has anything to do with our lack of information. I would appreciate and help you could give me in obtaining these records. Thanking you in advance, Sincerely Wm R. Woods

[Sorry for the delay but we can help you which is the raison d’etre for our Newsletter and website.]

Request for Info on Father from Albert Mock, C Co, 353rd: earlyslickalbert@hotmail.com

I have just begun trying to find information regarding my father’s service during WWII. He died when I was eleven so I have little to go on. I did however, find your website and have contacted 2 members listed in his company. I would like to have my email address added to the list. [done].

Ronald E. Mock PFC; CIB (not sure what CIB is, but it’s listed with his listing in the book The Eighty-Ninth Division by the Washington Infantry Journal Press.) Thank you for your time and service to your country.

[CIB is Combat Infantrymans Badge]

Request for Unit Identification from Michael G. Markov: mgmsprtscrds@acnine.net

I believe my father, George Markov, served in the 89th Infantry Division in WWII. He was from Detroit, Michigan. He passed away in 1992. Of course, Dad never talked about his service in WWII. I found and old map documenting the 89th’s trek across Europe. I do know he was deathly afraid of the ocean and I was under the impression that he landed on D-day. Like I said, Dad never talked about the war with ANYBODY. So I am on my own. If you have a roster and can confirm that Dad was with this unit, I would appreciate your help. After WWII, my Dad married my Mom, joined the Air Force where he served until 1992. I am 42 years old and have been with the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department for the past 18 years. Thanks

9855 Calle Esplanade
Riverside, Calif 92503

Valuable Benefit from Jim Carroll M Co, 353rd: jimipa23@yahoo.com

A short note to fill you in on an event in my life that other 89ers may well take to mind. At a recent annual physical at my HMO, I was told that a pair of hearing aids was due to be apart of my immediate future. However, the next question by the audiologist was: Were you ever in the service?” Of course, she was informed of my time, over half a century earlier, in the 89th Division. She was also informed that I had NO service-connected disabilities. At that response, I was told the HMO would not sell me the hearing aids because the Veterans Administration would provide them for me free of charge plus and ongoing supply of batteries. All I had to do was get an identification card at the nearest VA office them show the cardiogram.

If you do not have an audiogram, they (the VA) will run a test and take it from there. I am now enjoying a new freedom from people who just mumble and wonder why I don’t understand them!!

A veteran friend of mine had already bought two hearing aids before I informed her of my experience. She inquired of the VA and found that her batteries will henceforth be paid for, and needed repairs will be taken care of, and when NEW aids are required, they will be provided at no cost. If you are comfortably fixed, you WILL be required to pay for VA doctor appointments, but NOT any equipment. There must a lot of old farts like me around who don’t know about this very valuable benefit and I would appreciate you informing the in a future “Rolling W”

Exchange with A German Scholar from Juren Burberg: burberg@burberg.de

Here is a good example of how this website is reaching out to people all over the world, including many in Germany. Here we have three exchagnes between Jurgen Burbery and Raymond Kitchell, Darrel Carnell and Ed Quick.

Exchange between Jurgen Burberg and Raymond Kitchell

I just found your website. It is a really interesting site. I am from Germany and I'm very interested in the exploration of the things happened in 1945 in the area around Ohrdruf. Especially I'm interested in "first-hand-information" from eyewitnesses. I read about a comrade of yours who entered the big tunnel system a short time after the liberation by the 89th Inf Div. My question: Is this true and are there any reports or pictures, drawings etc. about this tunnel system?

Some Information about me: I am 50 years old and live in Wiesbaden/Germany. I am a teacher in physics and geography. I am very interested in all information about the Ohrdruf concentration camp, the liberation and the tunnel system around Ohrdruf and Crawinkel. I am sorry, if I remembered you at time that was not very nice but very sad. Kind regards

Jürgen Burberg.

PS: Sorry about my bad English. Thank you for your email.

[Response from Ray]

As you probably are already aware, there are stories on our website about Ohrdruf but have you pulled up some the past Newsletters? I will place your request in this month's Newsletter which should be online by Aug 30th. Keep in touch. Raymond (Scotty) Kitchell

That was a real fast answer .Thank you very much!! It's a good idea to take me to your mailing list. So I'll wait for interesting infos. Thanx again Jürgen

Darrell asked me for some biographical data to put this and some of the mail correspondence into your newsletter. That would be very nice, because the chance to find more eyewitnesses could grow. So from my side it's ok to put the correspondence into your newsletter if you and the others think that it's interesting for you. Some biographical data:

Jürgen Burberg - you can write it Juergen Burberg as well born in Neu Isenberg (near Frankfort) on December, 30th 1952 University-degree in physics and geography as a teacher. In addition to that I studied some semester’s electronic engineering at the technical University in Darmstadt and a little theology at the University of Mainz. Since 1991 I work as a trainer in communication, management training, management coaching, and some pc-training. I live in Wiesbaden/Germany and in Eisenberg, which is a small town in Thuringia, together with my partner.

I am generally interested in history and development of science and technology during WW2, especially the things which happened in the area around Ohrdruf, Crawinkel, the Jonas-Valley and the army exercise area near Ohrdruf in the last days of WW2. In addition I'm interested in psychology and all things concerning human beings (behavior, their fate, experiences etc.), just to learn more about the world. :-) Because I was married with an American woman from 1987 until 2002, I am generally interested in USA. I hope this information is useful. If you need more about me just let me know. Have a nice day. Jürgen.

Exchange between Jurgen Burberg and Darrel Carnell

[From Darrel]


Here is the letter to which I sent you a copy of my reply. Scotty, you may wish to publish Jürgen's desire (just his desire and not necessarily our correspondence) to exchange e-mails with other 89ers.

And Jürgen, you may wish to give Scotty (a/k/a Raymond) some biographical information on yourself, such as your age, your city, your profession and so forth.

Yes, Jürgen, I was with the 89th on the day that Ohrdruf was liberated. I still have vivid memories of the bodies laying about and in nearby sheds. The bodies in one shed were placed In alternating rows: one layer of bodies with their feet to the rear, a layer of lime and the next layer of bodies with the feet to the rear, a layer of lime and so forth. I think the bodies must have been 8 rows deep. There were very few living prisoners; most had been shot. Darrell

[From Jurgen]

Hello Darrel, it must be horrible when you saw all these cruelty done by the SS-criminals. I hope never to see such things. I just read in a book (Rätsel Jonastal - Secret Jonastal) that one cannot find anything in the war diary of the 89 Inf.Div between the April, 8th until April, 11th in 1945. Is this correct?

There are lots of speculations about the "Bernstein-Zimmer". But I'm not interested in finding some treasures. Definitely not. I just wrote a mail to your son in which I wrote something about my background of the researches. In this book you can read, that an US-officer named Robert S. Allen visited this underground system. He spoke of an "underground city" . Do you know this officer?

Well, sorry to ask such a lot of questions.

Greetings from Germany

[From Darrel]

I am unfamiliar with the book Rätsel Jonastal so I do not know the context in which the author said that there were no entries in the 89th Division diary for the period April 8 - April 11, 1945. The history of my unit (Battery B, 340 Field Artillery, 89th Infantry Division) relates that on April 8 and 9 we were in or around Fishbach, On April 10 we stopped briefly at Ohrdruf while on the way to Bittstadt and on April 11 we took up positions at Marlishausen. On April 12 we part of a task force assigned to secure bridges on the Saale River near Kahla.

The history for that date continues: "an enemy staff headquarters with its general was captured intact. Also an underground aircraft factory as taken before it could be destroyed by the enemy. The mission took us thirty five miles through enemy lines to Zimmeritz three miles short o Kahla."

No, I do not know Robert S. Allen, nor have I ever heard his name before I guess the "underground city" he mentioned is the same underground aircraft factory mentioned in the April 12 entry. I am sorry but I deleted your original letter in which you told me a little bout yourself. As I recall, your age is in the 50's and you are a teacher. If my recollection of your age is correct, you did not have any first hand experiences in those troubled times. I was twenty when I reached France and had my 21st birthday the day we crossed the German border. My wife is Dutch and is three years younger than I so my wartime experiences were as a soldier, while her experiences were as a civilian. Both my wife and I enjoyed reading a book entitled "German Boy" by Wolfgang W. E. Samuel about his experiences as a German lad of perhaps 10 or 12 years old during the later days of the war. It truthfully and accurately depicts the terrible conditions of those horrible times and if you are interested in history and how things REALLY were during the latter days of the war you should read it. I have tried to obtain copies printed in German, but am informed that none are available. You may obtain an English copy from http://www.booksamillion.com/ or from http://barnesandnoble.com/ or from http://www.amazon.com/. The advertised prices are in the range of $15 or so, and I give the book my highest recommendation. Darrel

[From Jurgen to Darrel]

Hello Darrel, thanks again.

The underground aircraft factory could the one close to Kahla, which was called REIMAHG. In this factory ME 262 were assembled. On top of the hill a landing strip was built for the planes to fly directly to the combat areas.

Another question: I read, that the US-troops stopped at the April, 5th to wait for supporting units because General Patton went a little to fast. Is that true? Which unit came first to Crawinkel and the Jonastal (Jonas-Valley)? Was this the 89th Inf Div or another unit? And: Did you or other units have any heavy enemy contact during your raid through the Jonas-Valley, Crawinkel and Ohrdruf? If yes, were that SS-troops or "normal" Wehrmacht units? I am really very happy to get all the very interesting information from you. Maybe there are some other comrades of you who are interested in an email dialogue? Jürgen

Exchange between Jurgen Burberg and Ed Quick

[From Ed]

Scotty, I copy below the e-mails I sent you before that accompanied the picture of the Amber Room ("Bernstein Zimmer" in German.)  They are the "narrative" you asked about.  The e-mails are a correspondence between Juergen Burberg and myself.  They are in chronological order as you requested.  They are stuff that you told Darrel you thought would be good material for the Newsletter.

[From Jurgen]

Well, where did I learn my English? First in school for about 10 years. Then I was married with an American girl for 14 years up to this year. Just for your information: Her father was at DIA and went with Admiral Byrd down to the Antarctic with Operation Highjump. He was a hydrographic officer. During the WWII he was a researcher in the aerial photography. So much for my English.

Bernstein-Zimmer: This is the famous room made out of amber which the Germans had stolen from Russia during WWII. It couldn't discovered up to today. A reconstructed amber room was opened this year in St. Petersburg/Russia. Some people think that the amber room was packed into boxes and containers and then stored in a secret place close to Ohrdruf in one of the tunnel systems. Jonastal: This is the name of a valley (Jonas-Valley) near Ohrdruf. During the last days of WWII the Nazis excavated a lot of tunnels in the hills around Ohrdruf and Jonastal. The slave workers you liberated in the Ohrdruf concentration camps did that work. There are speculations about the later use of the tunnel system. Some people think that this should be a headquarters for Hitler; others think that it should be used to make top secret scientific research. But no one really knows what the tunnels could be used for.

You cannot find any documents about this system because they are still classified as top-secret by the American government. Very interesting what you wrote about Eichmann in the Austrian POW-camp. Were there other high ranking Nazis? And what happened to them? So, I would be glad to continue the interesting mail-exchange with you. By the way: How old are you? Have a happy day ‘Jürgen

[From Ed]

Thank you for your reply. In answer to your question, I am 79 years old. I find that hard to believe, but it's true. I celebrated my 21st birthday on April 29th in a foxhole near Zwickau, where we were set up in our last position before the end of the war on May 8. I have never heard of the Russian "amber room." Was it in Moscow? I can't picture a room made of amber. Or just maybe a lot of amber jewelry kept in the room?

I don't know how many Nazis our Intelligence people did discover. I was just an ordinary guard. I used to stand watch in one of the towers or take a crew of POW’s out to cut wood in the forest. I had a big German Shepherd dog I took along with me. Most of the POW's were very friendly and we often exchanged rations for lunch. There was usually one German officer along and he was of a different sort. Very arrogant. At times I had to level my carbine at him to get him to do what I wanted. One time a very young POW was put in charge of the tools - the saws and axes. He handled the cold steel too much and got frostbitten fingers. The other POW's teased him and told him he would have to have his fingers amputated. He believed them and came to me quite frightened for help. I told him not to worry and following the procedures we had been taught for frostbite, I managed to get the blood back into his fingers. When his white fingers turned pink he was overjoyed and I think he thought I was God.

It is strange that the tunnel systems near Ohrdruf are still classified as top secret by our government. Aren't there many photos of the tunnels on the internet? And descriptions of them? What else could there be that would be so secret?

I was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but live now in Florida. My wife and I have lived here for eleven years. Where do you live and how old are you?

[From Jurgen]

Hello Ed,

That must have been a strange birthday you spent - in a foxhole. The Bernstein-Zimmer (amber room) was a big room in a palace in St. Petersburg. I attached a picture of that room. It was a gift of the German king Friedrich Wilhelm I. to the Russian king Peter I. in the 18th century. During WW2 the Germans diminished the amber and packed the entire amber into containers to bring it to the Königsberg castle.

When the Russian troops came closer to Königsberg, the containers were brought to an unknown place in Germany. Some speculations are that the amber room was brought to caverns in Thuringia.

The classification: Well, in the Operation Paperclip a lot of documents were gathered and brought to US. The US-administration (maybe DIA, CIA, FBI etc.) went through the big amount of documents to find out something about German high technology i.e. rocket technology. But some people think that it wasn't only rocket technology what they found. There must be a lot more of information. Speculations are around things like antigravity research and researches about nuclear weapons. The photos of the tunnel system you can find in the internet mostly show the tunnels which were under construction in the last war days. But underneath the nearby military exercise area a communication center was build in the 30s. But no one entered this so called "Amt 10". Some people think that there was not only a communication & radio station (for wireless communication) but also a research center for high technology. The entire area could be something like "Area 51" in US, some people assume.

Another questions: I read, that the US-troops stopped on April 5th to wait for supporting units. Is that true? Which unit came first to Crawinkel and the Jonastal? Was this the 89th Inf Div or another unit? And: Did you have any heavy enemy contact during your raid through the Jonas-Valley, Crawinkel and Ohrdruf? If yes, were they SS-troops or "normal" Wehrmacht units?

So thank very much for the good communication and the very interesting information.

The Amber Room

[From Ed]

Jürgen What a spectacular room!  I think it may be very possible that it is now in some private collector's hands, rather than hidden in a tunnel somewhere.  Some person (or persons) surely knew where it had been hidden and the temptation for him (or them) to sell it would be overwhelming!  Billionaire collectors would have been willing to pay an exorbitant amount to own it and install it in a secret room of their private collections.

To my knowledge, the only delay in Patton's Third Army advance was caused by difficulty in getting gasoline up to his tanks.  There was some thought at Allied Supreme HQ to hold him back until other Armies caught up on his flanks, but it was finally decided to let him continue on in the hopes of capturing a German High Command believed to be at Ohrdruf.  Indeed, it was found later that Field Marshal Kesselring and HQ of OB WEST had left Ohrdruf only 24 hours earlier.   

After crossing the Rhine, the 4th and 11th Armored Divisions had raced a hundred miles in a matter of days.  Supplies (food and gasoline) could not keep up with them.  When cargo planes dropped food, Patton stormed, "My men can eat their g..d... belts!  Send me gasoline!  Elements of the 4th and 11th Armored Divisions and the 89th Infantry Division were the first to arrive at the concentration camp near Ohrdruf.  I think  these elements all arrived there at about the same time. I recommend the book, "The Last Offensive (United States Army in WWII) by Charles B. MacDonald, if you have not already read it.  There is much detail from military historians and others about the war in March, April and May, including some of what I recounted in the last paragraph.  

I quote a short excerpt:  "They (Patton's Armored Divisions) found at least part of what they had been expecting in Ohrdruf - an immense underground communications center set in deep concrete tunnels, with radio facilities, cables, and telephone switchboards large enough to serve a small city.  It had been constructed as a headquarters for the Armed Forces High Command (OKW) during tense days preceding the Czechoslovakian crisis in 1938, but never used.  In recent weeks, the Reichsfuehrer SS, Heinrich Himmler, had ordered the facilities expanded as a possible retreat for Hitler and his entire entourage, to be presented to the Fuehrer for his birthday...." 

There was only "normal resistance" to Patton's advance at this time according to the historians writing in this book.   

On April 5, the 89th was advancing on Eisenach.  The city had shown white flags and indicated surrender, but when we tried to enter, German troops (we heard there were units of SS there) opened fire and forced us to withdraw.  Our entire Corps Artillery then fired at Eisenach all night.  I was a gunner on our 105 mm howitzer and I remember I was up all night firing.  In the morning, the city quietly surrendered.   

We spent the next several days moving between Eisenach, Fischbach (the one very close to Eisenach), and Farnroda.  We encountered only some small arms fire and spent some time cleaning our equipment.  On April 10, we moved to a position near Ohrdruf and then on to Bittstadt.  General Eisenhower ordered all men who could go to visit the concentration camp at Ohrdruf so there would be many eyewitnesses to what had happened there.  A number of us went and the sights were horrible.  Resistance by the Germans at this time was so light that we were even able to see a movie in Bittstadt on April 10. 

We ran into heavier opposition on April 11 at Marlishausen - then formed a task force to try to capture bridges over the Saale River near Kahla.  We captured a German Staff HQ there, but the bridges had been blown.  We also captured an underground aircraft factory. 

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