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Feature Article on Ernst Schmidt. TOPIC: WAR
Written by Jim Sayre in 1998

POW STORY TOLD TO KIWANIS

Fifty years have dimmed bad memories of a British prisoner of war camp, according to Sidney resident Ernst Schmidt, once a German U-boat commander.

Schmidt recently told Sunset Kiwanis members that he spent more than 3 years as a prisoner after World War II, most of it in Wales. He retired as an engineer from Stolle Corporation in 1988. Though Schmidt was beaten by British officers for information about his submarine service, it is the "good or funny memories that stay with me," he said.

"I joined a band in the camp which held about 2,000 German officers. The YMCA furnished the instruments," Schmidt said. "The British officers heard us play and asked us if we would play for their dance the next Saturday night. We said we would, but it would cost them. A good meal and a pack of cigarettes for each of us in the band." Schmidt's band played until the intermission and was then invited to the food table. The drummer took his instrument with him and the prisoner-musicians filled the drum with food and utensils. "We had a real feast when we got back to the barracks," Schmidt said.

It was six months after capture before Schmidt was permitted to send a post-card to his family in Germany, informing them that he was alive. "It was a year before I heard from my parents," he said.

POSTSCRIPT: Ernst Schmidt died suddenly while on a 1998 vacation trip in his homeland. As per his wishes, he was buried in Germany.

 

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