By: Dr. Vivian Rogers-Price
In 2008 Irving Baum shared some of his World War II experiences through an oral history interview. F/O Baum completed eleven missions as a bombardier. Then on 16 March 1944 he and his crew were shot down over Nazi-occupied France. Baum was captured by a German officer. After interrogation he went to Stalag Luft III where he “experienced the tiniest bit of humanity. They sat you down at a table and you filled out a registration sheet. They didn’t ask any forbidden questions. They asked your religion. I thought, ‘What am I going to do?’ I started to write, and the German private behind the desk looked at me, tapped me on the hand and said something. I almost didn’t understand him but he took the pen and paper I had away from me and where I had started a “J” he put a “Prot.”
On the evening of 27 January 1945, the German garrison at Stalag Luft III announced the camp’s immediate evacuation due to the proximity of Soviet forces. The Germans distributed Red Cross food parcels to the prisoners, and in the early hours of 28 January the prisoners began a five day forced march to Spremberg in freezing, snowy weather. Their overnight accommodations on the journey included barns, a large church and a factory. From Spremberg, the prisoners went by train to either Stalag XIIID at Nürnberg or Stalag VIIA near Moosburg. Baum went to Moosburg.
On 29 April 1945, liberation day at Stalag VIIA, Irving Baum volunteered to assist at Dachau since he spoke both German and Yiddish. There he saw children being fed by Army nurses. He helped feed the adults. “The doctor carefully explained to us to put one drop of glucose on their tongue and then turn our back and put two or three moderate drops of glucose on white bread that you are given and hold it and do not let them grab, only just a dot of bread at the time because it doesn’t take much for them to instantly die right in your arms. We did that, but they were so weak they couldn’t stand. They had to lie down. At the same time they used a death grip to pull your hand down, and you had all you could do to break their grip. Finally we finished that portion. There were no more to be fed.”