East Texan Survivor Of Nazi Stalag 17 - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

11/11/04-Longview

East Texan Survivor Of Nazi Stalag 17

   For one East Texas man, art was true to form, as a movie made about an infamous Nazi prison camp he was a P.O.W. in was true to life. Sergeant Jack Robinson's B-17 was shot down over Yugoslavia in 1944, and for 13 months he was a prisoner at "Stalag 17" with around 1,000 other soldiers.

    "It was always in the back of your mind, that you've got to survive this you had no idea how long you were going to be there" says Robinson.

    Hollywood dramatized the Stalag, showing the men held under ruthless conditions, but undaunted and constantly trying organized escapes, something Robinson's says was true.

    "The Germans didn't give us much food and they did give us wasn't very appetizing, our goal was to make them think we were going to escape one way or another, the idea was that they would keep extra troops guarding the camp, we knew we were still part of the effort and we knew we had a job to do" he says.

      They were kept in huts, no heat, little water, they bribed guards for parts to make radios, and Robinson participated in numerous escape attempts, and several of his fellow soldiers were killed trying to cut through the wire or tunnel out.

     "The guards saw what was happening and started shooting the bullets were coming through the paper barracks, they were shot as they climbed the fence, they killed them" he says.

     They battled a real sergeant Schultz to keep their escape efforts secret, and they really hid an escapee inside the camp for several days, not in a water tower as the movie portrayed, but in an underground chamber, all knowing that being caught meant a death sentence.

    "When veterans day rolls around those things come to mind that some of those guys did things they didn't have to do but those are the guys to me that are the heroes" Robinson says.

    Eventually they were liberated by American forces, but there's no measure of how important the effort of the men of Stalag 17 had on the war, and Jack Robinson will always remember it. Bob Hallmark reporting.

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