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"Really, it became a situation of living day to day trying to just keep going until we knew the ultimate end would be that we'll get liberated some day" (audio interview, 02:12:51.0).

   John William Baber
Collection image
John Baber at time of interview [4/19/2005]
War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Army Air Forces/Corps
Unit: 8th Air Force
Service Location: European Theater
Rank: Major
POW: Yes
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Before bailing out of the B-17 he was co-piloting, John Baber had never made a jump from a plane. "Psychologically, that's a helluva sensation," he says in his video interview (00:59:31.0). Along with all but one of his crew, who was never accounted for, he dropped into the Zuiderzee in central Holland and was taken prisoner by the Germans. For Baber, the war was over. Many POW stories include details of suffering, but for Baber and his fellow prisoners at Stalag Luft 1, a German Air Force camp, their treatment was better than expected while still being onerous. He does not remember any guards who were sadistic, and escape attempts were punished, but with confinement rather than execution. The men were even allowed to play baseball, hold boxing matches, and perform in plays. Baber's collection includes 177 remarkable photos depicting everyday life inside the camp in a way that is rarely seen.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (10 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: audio (181 min.)
»Photo Album  (177 photos)
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 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (10 items)
Plane shot down over Holland. (01:32) Jumping from plane; never jumped from a plane before. (00:44) Spending the night on the run; evasion tactics. (01:45)
Found by a civilian; turned over to the Germans. (00:56) Treatment by the guards; use of "ferrets" to discover information from the prisoners; escape attempts and punishment. (04:58) Playing baseball in the POW camp. (01:00)
Food and cooking in the POW camp; one meal a day; using SPAM from Red Cross packages to supplement their diet. (02:47) More about playing baseball, football, and running races; equipment donated by YMCA; keeping minds and bodies occupied. (01:52) Liberation of POW camp. (01:58)
Finding a Leica camera and taking photos in the camp. (00:56)  

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  October 26, 2011
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