Pvt. Robert Lester Anderson
United States Army 112th Infantry Battalion
from:Cedar River, MI
My uncle Bob was captured in the Battle of the Bulge and interred at Stalag 9B, Bad Orb, Hessen-Nassau, Prussia 50-09. He was reported as captured on 12/20/1944 and was liberated on 5/08/1945. He said starvation in the camp was their biggest problem. They lived on watered down potato soup. Occasionally he'd get assigned to work in the kitchen preparing meals for the German officers. They were actually officers from the old Austrian army and he thought they probably treated the prisoners better than German officers might have done.
Uncle Bob was Norwegian but had grown up with German neighbors in Cedar River, MI, located in the central Upper Peninsula of Michigan along the shore of Green Bay on Lake Michigan. He and his siblings learned to speak German in order to communicate with the neighbors. He often said his knowledge of German probably kept him alive in the camp.
One time he was working in the kitchen helping to prepare a fancy meal for some visiting German officers. One of the other prisoners stole a chicken from the array of food they were preparing. The guard noticed a chicken was missing and demanded that the thief step forward. No one moved. The guard lined them all up outside the building and threatened to shoot them all unless the thief stepped forward. Uncle Bob said he was sure he was going to die. Then, the thief slowly moved forward and confessed. He was shot and killed right there. The rest were ordered to their barracks. Already weak from hunger and having had to cook all that food while tasting none of it, he said he dragged himself back to the barracks hoping he didn't fall or stumble on the way and attract the attention of the already disgruntled guard.
When they were liberated, Uncle Bob said they were fed coffee and doughnuts by a Red Cross crew that had set up a tent outside the camp. They had not tasted anything so good since long before they'd been captured. Some of the men ate several doughnuts and a few later died because their stomachs could not hold that much food after so many months of barely eating. He would shake his head as he told this story... and say, "After surviving all that, they were killed by a careless act of kindness."
Uncle Bob had pneumonia when they were liberated. A few days later, one of his lungs collapsed. He recovered and lived a full life but always was somewhat limited in physical capacity because of only having one lung.
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