Dedication | Introduction | History | The Voices | The Correspondence | Conclusion


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 At the beginning of 1999 Shep disclosed that he had many more letters and postcards. This was truly a monumental turn of events.