Holocaust survivor Shep Zitler was a 22-year-old draftee in the Polish Army
when WWII broke out. When Poland was defeated in a few of weeks Shep was
put into a German prisoner-of-war camp, Stalag VIII. He remained there for
five years and seven months. A miracle happened for Shep and the other 72
Jews who came from the area of Poland around Vilna. They were not turned
over to the SS and put into concentration camps. They were not sent back
home to die in the Holocaust. For some reason or for no reason they were
kept apart as Jews and held as prisoners-of-war by the German army for the
entire duration of WWII.
In POW camp Shep Zitler was able to correspond with his family. He saved
the letters in the pockets of his clothes. When WWII ended Shep learned
that his entire family in Europe has been exterminated. He had a brother
and sister who survived in Israel. Shep Zitler went to England and later
immigrated to New Orleans, Louisiana in the United States, where he had
relatives. He started a business, married and had a son. His wife died
and he remarried. He became active in civic and Jewish affairs.
The letters from prison camp remained in Shep's desk, cherished but unread.
During the initial interviews by John Menszer for a Holocaust survivors
project Shep made available some of the postcards and these were included
in Shep Zitler's story on www.holocaustsurvivors.org. At the
beginning of 1999 Shep disclosed that he had many more letters and postcards.
This was truly a monumental turn of events.