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Walking with Nazis in 1945
10:10am Saturday 28th July 2012 in News
A FIRST-time author has written a book about the forced marches of Allied prisoners by the Germans during the Second World War.
Peter Green, 65, signed copies of The March East 1945 at the Pen and Paper bookshop, in Old Town , on Wednesday.
His father, Alan, was among prisoners forced to march into Germany in a last-ditch bid by to stop them falling into the hands of the US troops.
About 900 Allied officers, who had survived the camps of Oflag in northern Germany, were forced to make the journey.
Peter described writing the book, as very hard work.
It is the culmination of an interest he has had since childhood, sparked by a magazine article - showing pictures of Nazi brutes on the march – kept by his family.
His work is party an effort to debunk those myths.
“The Germans were marching 400 or 500 prisoners with all the old men at the front,” said Peter.
“They went very slowly, about one-and-a-half miles an hour, if that. The men also managed to slow the marches down deliberately. American armoured divisions were traipsing across the landscape at 30 or 40 miles a day, yet somehow the German officers managed to keep these men prisoners.
“They weren’t nasty Nazis. They were doing their jobs as logically as they could in an illogical world. That’s when I started to think I’d like to know more about this.”
Peter’s father, an airborne soldier captured at the end of Operation Market Garden, and former Swindon GWR works manager Harry Roberts were among those in the march.
But Peter, of Old Town, said the truth was far removed from the Nazi horrors vividly described in the copy of British picture magazine Illustrated, which showed Nazi ogres with whips. The account was written by New Zealander Lee Hill, a prisoner who took pictures on the march.
Peter also discovered his father’s POW diary and an album of 52 photographs of the journey after the veteran died in 2004.
He believes his father would have approved of his book.
“It’s just sad I can’t wave it at my father,” he said.
* The March East 1945 is available at the Pen and Paper, in Victoria Road.