Not Without Honor
The Nazi POW Journal of Steve Carano, With Accounts by John C. Bitzer and Bill Blackmon
Publication Year: 2008
Published by: University of Arkansas Press
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Americans do not see former prisoners of war as they do other veterans. Somehow, becoming a POW, as one general put it, “is a failed mission. ”Even more insensitive was the wife who wrote her husband in a German prison camp, “I still love you even if you are a coward and a prisoner. ”No hometown parades awaited former prisoners, who were quickly forgotten ...
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In the spring of 2000, I arrived in Fort Lauderdale for a visit with my sister and her family. On her dining room table a book lay open, revealing carefully handwritten pages and drawings. My brother-in-law was setting up his camera to photograph each yellowed page. This was my introduction to Claudio Stefano Carano’s wartime journal from Stalag XVII B. The Carano family, who lived nearby, had trusted my sister with ...
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Without the generosity and enthusiasm of the Carano family, this project would never have made it to fruition. Rose Carano graciously invited me into her apartment in Plantation, Florida, showing me photographs and letters from her husband written while he was at war or in Stalag XVII B. Her son, Steve Carano, and his wife, Cathy, were instrumental ...
Part One. Claudio “Steve” Carano’s Wartime Log
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On a warm July evening in 1942, Claudio Stefano Carano came home from his job as foreman at a mannequin factory in Brooklyn. He was tired but happy, ready to take his wife, Rose, out dancing at their favorite club, Coney Island Nights. She was good at the two-step and had even won prizes doing a fast dance called the Peabody, and he liked to show her off ...
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The villain of these chronicles is “The Wire”—he is relentless, al powerful, omnipresent. He is the silent stern tyrant of all your days. “The Wire” is barbed, there are exactly 65,328 barbs in his stark perimeter. I have counted them. We all count them often! There used to be 65,329 barbs but lately one has rusted and fallen off. This was an event. ...
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November 30, 1943 We were briefed that morning for a mission to Leverkusen. We ﬂew to within 20 miles of the enemy coast where the mission was scrubbed. I was ﬂying with my own crew, so the scrub, after being awakened at 4:30 a.m., and going as far as we did, was sort of a disappointment. When we returned to the base, there was the usual clattering, mumbling, and ...
Life in the Prison Camp
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Russian and Italian prisoners are kept in the compound adjoining ours. Theirs is a pitiful wretched existence. Whenever we get the chance we would throw them pieces of bread or a cigarette, they would half kill each other trying to get it. We had snow for sixty-one consecutive days, and the Russian and Italian prisoners were forced to work in it without ...
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Although this certain incident took place more than ten months ago, I can still recall some of the words a German ofﬁcer made when I was leaving Frankfurt, Germany for this camp here at Krems, Austria. He said, “Remember gentlemen, we are German, we are warriors. We were born to ﬁght and we are not afraid to die. I have given strict orders to my men: ...
Escape Letter to Rose
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Darling,This letter may never reach you, for no one knows what the outcome of this war will be, or what may befall the bearer, as I am entrusting it to a very dear friend, who I am sure will do his utmost to deliver it. His name is Charles Groth, and if anything should happen to me, I know he can tell you and you would like to know about myself and the ...
Six Months a Prisoner of War
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The ﬁrst few months of prison life with all early difficulties to adjustment of capture [was] an existence with many hard and trying days, and strange to say, many amusing ones. It is hard to explain the changes in a man’s life from great freedom, none more than ﬂying to one of bondage. There are many that we have to accustom ourselves with that are in many ways, more...
The Story of Slim Lassiter
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There is one aspect of life as a prisoner of war which many of us did not experience. The following is one amongst hundreds of similar incidents that have happened to American airmen. This particular one is that of escape and capture: a story of the attempt made to get back to England after the forced landing made in France. ...
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First Radio Operator—“Brady’s Crash Wagon. ” Shot down over Munster, October 10, 1943 (16th mission). Five years Army life, Two years a Boxer, 5' 4" ?, 142lbs. Joe set a good example of undaunted American spirit and stubborn unwillingness to concede one inch to our Nazi captors. Had two weeks of solitary for the best attempt at escape from XVII B, January 18 in the ...
Writing by Comrades
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What a price to pay for no Glory. For here in a prison camp there is no one hero. They are all heroes. And any man that fights to defend democracy, and America which stands for democracy, is no common hero. For such is the war of today, this modern war in which the individual is expendable. A great homage should be paid to those who live through ...
Kriegies’ Everyday Talk
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When things get too rough for the rest of the world, it will be just right for a “Kriegie. ”When the war tremblor ends, and the dust settles, and the actual truth is known, the horrors of it will strike us like a tidal wave. One soldier to another: “Steve, I’ll bet you we don’t get out of here before Christmas. I heard from ______.” “Yeah, I know! And only last week you were saying we’d spend the ...
“They Fly for Dollars”
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When two years ago, the U.S. ofﬁcially entered the war, it appeared to be the only right course and above all the simplest one to land effective support to “volunteering” for the U.S. Air Force by all sorts of solid promises. That is to say, promises of ringing coin. The British had already introduced a system of “premiums” for the ﬂying crews of their air force, ...
About the War
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Everything that comes into a Kriegie camp is censored with hawk-eye scrutiny, principally reading material—however the following story apparently missed the censor’s eye. Let us never forget what the Germans do when they have power. Let us look at France and remember one stroke of the invader’s authority. The whole world knows the French working men are ...
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. . . after about ﬁve days marching none of us really expected anything to happen to get us back to the U.S. after passing so many places where we saw atrocities. We had begun to think it was just a matter of time until they got us to a place where they would eliminate us. Several times as we passed through a village we would come across units of the German Volkstrum. ...
Letter from Dutch Nurses
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Dear Mr. Carano, We hope you got home safely by now. Did you have a bad time in the camp? Over here, the last time it was very bad, but we got over it and we are very happy to be free and all the war is over! We hope you remember us, we were the Dutch nurses from the operating room. We always had great fun in being just a bit cleverer than the Germans ...
II. John C. Bitzer’s Wartime Log
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With the image of himself and his buddy, “Cul,” rushing to catch up with their comrades on the march to liberation, Steve Carano stopped writing in his journal. He tucked away the book, sewn carefully in the durable brown cloth from his Army uniform, and with liberation looming ahead on the German border, he began to live in the present moment ...
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After being on the march for two and a half months, since February 6, 1945, we marched into Bitterfeld as free men and as I write this I am sitting in a German ofﬁce in Bitterfeld—minus the Jerries of course. We left Gross Tyschow Pomerania on the 6th of February and marched to Stalag XI A at Altengrable by Magdeburg. We evacuated XI A because ...
III. Bill Blackmon’s Story
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In 1932, one of the worst years of the Depression, Kate Blackmon was a young Louisiana mother with three children and no way to feed them. Her husband had been an adequate provider until hard times came, but then, feeling helpless to support his young children on desolate farmland in southern Louisiana, he moved his family to Monroe and abandoned ...
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In his self-portrait of a World War II radioman, Claudio Stefano Carano turns his back to us as he goes about the warrior’s job at hand. His radio controls are temporarily forgotten as he aims a machine gun directly at an oncoming German bomber, while another swooshes upward into the distant sky. The vision appears dizzying, yet his feet are planted steadily, his ...
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Page Count: 204
Illustrations: 26 photographs
Publication Year: 2008