President Obama in Buchenwald–so close to getting Joe’s story

June 10, 2009 at 12:31 am (429th Fighter Squadron, 474th Fighter Group, Buchenwald, Fighter Pilot, Joe Moser, Stalag Luft III) (, , )

When we heard that President Obama was going to visit Buchenwald on June 5, Anne Rasmussen–our intrepid publicist and publication manager–went to work on trying to get the White House’s attention. What an opportunity for the president to acknowledge that 82 Americans have never been recognized as having suffered through the Nazi oppression of Buchenwald–including Joe Moser. Marilyn Walton, whose father was in Stalag Luft III, brought this opportunity to our attention, wrote a letter to the White House and got us in contact with Bernd Schmidt, the head of the U.S. Veterans Friends association in Germany.

Mr. Schmidt did all he could to meet with President Obama and had prepared for him several gifts, including a copy of “A Fighter Pilot in Buchenwald.” While he was not able to get the meeting he so earnestly desired, his efforts were not in vain at all. We just received this translation of a newspaper story from the Thuringia State Newspaper recording Mr. Schmidt’s efforts and the gifts that are being sent now through the Consulate.

Our very sincere thanks to Mr. Schmidt and to Marilyn Walton–we will press on together to get the recognition these men so richly deserve.

Translation from the German [by Cordula D. Brown]

Thuringian State Newspaper, June 6th, 2009

Keep the memories alive
Bernd Schmidt of the U.S. Veterans Friends, too,  was hoping in vain for a meeting

By Christiane Weber

Weimar. [tlz] His hope to meet with the American president in person, was not fulfilled. “I was trying to get accreditation”, said Bernd Schmidt, founder [in 2001] and highly decorated member of the U.S. Veterans Friends in Germany.  He had contacted the Consulate General, called the hot line, applied to the Memorial site Buchenwald, and had sent a mail to the White House.  In vain.  This was even more disappointing because Schmidt – together with American veterans – had prepared a special gift: he intended to present the President with letters and three books by veterans.

Nevertheless, Schmidt was delighted with the President’s visit.   Somehow it was “an honor for our work”, said Schmidt.  Even without the personal encounter, Schmidt and his friends will continue their work more motivated than ever.  The small group of friends with the declared aim to keep alive the memory of the American soldiers who liberated Thuringia in 1945, to document historical facts in the vicinity, to foster friendship and understanding between Germany and the U.S., especially between American veterans and German people.  They are in close contact to American veterans and organize trips for them to come and meet them.  Among others, a photo exhibit from the Algoet collection with pictures of the KZ liberation was placed in Buchenwald.

One of the letters intended for the President is by Gerald Virgil Myers, member of the 80th Infantry Division who liberated Weimar and arrived in Buchenwald shortly afterwards.  He describes the historic events in minute detail.  “This place teaches us to stay vigilant always”, emphasized Barack Obama in his speech after his tour of the memorial site Buchenwald.  The memory would have to be kept awake.  And this is exactly what the Friends of theVeterans are doing.  Even more important are books like the ones by the historian Marilyn Jeffers Walton and by Gerald R. Baron which describe the less well know fate of Josef A. Moser and his 81 friends and fellow U.S. pilots who were prisoners of war in Buchenwald.   Bernd Schmidt will send the President these books now via Consulate General.

The disappointment did not in any way detract from Bernd Schmidt’s motivation.  He is firmly convinced that Obamas visit was of extraordinary help to keep the history alive for the future.

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