World War II prisoner of war camp - Stalag Luft I


World War II - Prisoners of War - Stalag Luft I 

A collection of stories, photos, art and information on Stalag Luft I


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  Lt. Sol H. Greenberg

Sol Greenberg, 86, World War II POW

Sol Greenberg was a survivor. He managed to live through:

* The 1944 shoot-down of his B-17 Flying Fortress over occupied Belgium.

* Sixteen months as a Jewish POW in German captivity.

* Two run-ins with trains while driving across railroad crossings in Austell and Atlanta, escaping both merely shaken and bruised.

* Four marriages.

Mr. Greenberg, 86, died Friday, June 25, 2004,  of kidney failure at St. Joseph's Hospital. The graveside service as Sunday. Dressler's Jewish Funeral Care was in charge of arrangements.

"Sol and I were captured at about the same time and were assigned to the same barracks room in Stalag Luft 1," said Joe Vogel of Bethesda, Md.

"Sol was a wonderful buddy. He organized the camp's trading post, so prisoners could swap things they got in Red Cross packages for things they needed. Sol traded with the camp guards to get things we couldn't get otherwise.

"Once Sol helped an escape attempt by distracting guards while a fellow POW hid in a cart of soiled sheets bound for the camp laundry. The officer managed to get outside the camp but was caught soon afterward, and for that, both he and Sol did stretches in the camp 'cooler,' " Mr. Vogel said.

"Sol had nerve," said Frank Gerrity of Clark Summit, Pa. "He thought about escape constantly, but you had to have approval from the POWs' escape committee before you could try, and he never got an OK. When anybody else tried, though, Sol helped out in some way.

"Near the end of the war, an order came down the German chain of command to segregate the Jewish POWs. We worried that meant they were to be executed. Our senior POW officer, a Col. Hubert Zemke, warned the German camp commandant that any mistreatment of the Jewish POWs would bring retribution after the war. Whatever the Germans were planning, that seemed to stop it.

"The 12 of us who originally shared a room at the camp have had maybe 15 reunions over the years. We've gathered for several days and swapped horror stories. Now there are only three of us left."

Liberated by Russian forces in May 1945, Mr. Greenberg returned to civilian life in his hometown, Atlanta. For nearly 30 years he was a sales representative for ZEP Manufacturing, a maker of cleaning and sanitation supplies.

He led morning and evening minyan, or prayers, at Congregation Shearith Israel. He was resident of service organizations and raised funds for humanitarian causes in Israel.

"Uncle Sol was more than an uncle. He was a continuously strong presence in the family --- in between his moves, his marriages, his sales trips," said a niece, Linda Bressler of Atlanta.

"He loved to get married. His challenge was to stay married. His fourth wife was an Israeli, and he went there to live with her. Eight years later, after trying unsuccessfully to learn Hebrew while in his 60s, he came back," she said.

Mr. Greenberg valued neatness and organization. "For example, Uncle Sol put labels on all his things, such as pants that were 'slightly tight' and those that were 'too tight,' " Mrs. Bressler said.

He also was considered the family curmudgeon.

"Uncle Sol was a man who could disagree with you, even when he agreed with you. He loved a good argument, but if he was willing to argue with you, you knew he really cared about you," said a great-nephew, Matthew Bagen of Portland, Ore.

Survivors include a sister, Clara Feldman of Atlanta; a brother, Irving Greenberg of Atlanta; and a granddaughter.



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