Carroll Daily Times Herald

Carroll, IA

14 Jul 1945




Yank's Story Belies Report Nazis Treated Prisoners Well

By Frank Miles
(Daily Times Herald War Corespondent)

Paris, France (IDPA) -- Pfc. Paul D. Bloom, Fairbank, a liberated prisoner of war, was reading the first letter from home he had received in nine months when I encountered his room at the 48th general hospital. He was recovering from diphtheria contracted in captivity.

Bloom was in headquarters company of the 168th infantry, 34th division, when he and other Iowans, including Capt. Edsell Herring, Des Moines, were captured by nazi troops at Faid Pass in North Africa in Feb. 17, 1943.

He told me a story of experiences he and comrades had in German hands, which belies reports widely circulated in the states that prisoners are treated well.

Bloom was in a group flown from Tunisia to Sicily to Naples to Munich, where they were put at hard labor -- long hours with little food and ugly guards. He was moved to another camp, then sent to an electrical power plant at Spermberg, where he slaved for months -- growing weaker gradually under the rigors of his tasks and slim rations.

On Feb. 15, fear of advancing Russians and Americans caused the nazis to start marching Bloom and hundreds of others almost night and day with only a third of a loaf of bread for each -- daily. This continued until in April when Bloom became seriously ill. He struggled to keep going but finally had to ask for medical aid.

A nazi doctor had him dumped into a wagon. Bloom then was hauled over rough roads for several days with little medicine and almost no cover to protect him from the cold. He is sure he would have died if the Fifth armored had not caught the Germans at Stendahl on April 30. There Americans medical officers took charge of the ill.

"It was different then," he smiled. "I can't imagine finer care than I have had ever since."

Bloom was one of 111 former prisoners, who were in the hospital that occupies the buildings of the French Hospitale Lariboisiere, used for American wounded in 1918 and 1919 and for German victims of World War II from the time the enemy took this city until driven out by General Eisenhower's men. A French woman employee proudly displayed a check she got for working in the institution 26 years ago. About 500 American patients brought from German prison camps had been cured of various ailments and sent to evacuation ports.

Crossing the inner court to reach Bloom's ward, I saw an officer on the roof leading 100 or more convalescents on balconies in calisthenics. Many battle casualties with one or both arms or legs gone were sitting on benches on the bright morning sunlight, some giving their more able-bodied buddies "advice."

The night before I mingled with a throng of soldiers at the Allied enlisted men's club. They were enjoying a concert by Maj. Glenn Miller's air force band. The music was great. In the Iowa section among the names on the 'Buddy Book' were Pvt. Harold L. Leighton, Des Moines; Sgt. Jack Slutsky, Sioux City; Pfc. Carrell Sampson, Radcliffe; and Cpl. Glenn Stoner, Seymour.

Source: Carroll Daily Times Herald, July 14, 1945

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