WBEZ | WWII http://www.wbez.org/tags/wwii Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Hosting the enemy: Our WWII POW camps http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/hosting-enemy-our-wwii-pow-camps-109344 <p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="325" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/16853521&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=true" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>Orland Park resident and curious CPA Bill Healy describes himself as a World War II history buff, but he recalls a moment not long ago when his enthusiasm for the subject outstripped his knowledge of it. He was out with some friends after a game of golf, he says, and one of them brought up German prisoner of war camps in the suburbs. Bill was shocked! He&#39;d never heard of these before, so he hit up Curious City with this question:</p><p dir="ltr" style="text-align: center;"><em>Where were German POW camps located around Chicago during World War II?</em></p><p>Bill&rsquo;s question screamed for a visual treatment, so we put together <a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/life-chicagos-german-pow-camps-109344#POWmap">this annotated map</a> that shows the camps&rsquo; locations and a bit more about them. Below, we also provide some context to make sense of it.</p><p>But with Bill&rsquo;s enthusiasm as our guide, we kept a lookout for interesting stories about life in and around the camps. We turned up several: A few were sad, a few were uplifting and a few had even grabbed headlines in decades past. Each is a reminder that Chicago&rsquo;s connection to World War II didn&rsquo;t just involve sending young men and women abroad; political and personal dramas unfolded at home, too.</p><p><strong>German POW camp locations</strong></p><p>The main camp was Fort Sheridan, with 1,300 POWs housed there from 1944 to 1945. Fort Sheridan also served as a sort of processing center and distributor of some 15,000 POWs, with prisoners being sent to smaller &ldquo;branch camps&rdquo; throughout the Midwest, a handful dotting Chicagoland.</p><p>Although nearly 425,000 POWs came to the United States during World War II, 370,000 of them were German. Many were captured while fighting in German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel&#39;s Afrika Corps.</p><p>We brought them to the U.S. for several reasons: First, it was too expensive provide food for prisoners held overseas. Also, camps were overcrowded in Europe, and our ally Great Britain asked for our help. Lastly, POWs could help fill the labor shortage in vital industries such as farming.</p><p>In the Chicago area, another few hundred were based in the Sweet Woods Forest Preserve near south suburban Thornton. They stayed in military-style barracks constructed during the Great Depression by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The Thornton site later housed a Girl Scout camp and even a high school.</p><p>Estimates suggest that between 75 and 250 POWs worked at Arlington Fields, south of Arlington Heights. Prisoners there were assigned to work at the United States Naval Air Station at Glenview. Also in Glenview, nearly 400 POWs were based at U.S. Camp Skokie in 1943. They worked in nearby orchards and farms, as well as the Naval Air Station. The facility was built by the Civil Conservation Corps and became a military police post before housing the German POWs. After the war ended, most of the facility was demolished, but one was preserved and housed a Girl Scout camp in the 1960s.<a name="POWmap"></a></p><p><iframe allowfullscreen="" frameborder="0" height="620" mozallowfullscreen="" scrolling="no" src="//www.thinglink.com/card/467079498500669440" type="text/html" webkitallowfullscreen="" width="620"></iframe></p><p>About 200 POWs were based in Camp Pine in Des Plaines at the corner of Euclid and River Road. Some of those POWS worked in the greenhouse of Pesche&rsquo;s Flowers, which is still open today. <a name="stories"></a></p><p><strong>The stories: Why Rudolf Velte returned 50 years later</strong><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Rudolf_Velte_German_POW_circa_19451946 for WEB.jpg" style="height: 221px; width: 170px; float: right;" title="This photo of Rudolf Velte in uniform was taken by a photographer sent by a church group that visited the POWs. Velte worked at Pesche’s Flowers. (Photo courtesy of the Des Plaines History Center)" /></p><p>Rudolf Velte was a German POW who was held at Camp Pine during the end of World War II, from 1945 to 1946.&nbsp;He had fought in German Field Marshal General Erwin Rommel&rsquo;s Afrika Corps before he was taken prisoner by the French. He escaped. Conditions were abysmal, he said: &ldquo;There was not much to eat and drink and very bad medical care, leading to bad illnesses.&rdquo; Velte ended up turning himself in to English soldiers. From there the American army took over and brought him to the states.</p><p>Curious City&rsquo;s Edie Rubinowitz went to Des Plaines learn more about this POW who picked carnations and made a special delivery more than fifty years later. She also discovered tapes that caught Velte recounting his story to (and being translated by) an American cousin, Art Bodenbender.</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="300" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/playlists/16855476&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><strong>The stories: Reinhold Pabel&rsquo;s escape to Uptown</strong></p><p><embed flashvars="host=picasaweb.google.com&amp;noautoplay=1&amp;hl=en_US&amp;feat=flashalbum&amp;RGB=0x000000&amp;feed=https%3A%2F%2Fpicasaweb.google.com%2Fdata%2Ffeed%2Fapi%2Fuser%2F103395493521839527756%2Falbumid%2F5955883370124599073%3Falt%3Drss%26kind%3Dphoto%26authkey%3DGv1sRgCKfO2Imck8PCDQ%26hl%3Den_US" height="400" pluginspage="http://www.macromedia.com/go/getflashplayer" src="https://static.googleusercontent.com/external_content/picasaweb.googleusercontent.com/slideshow.swf" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" width="600"></embed></p><p><em>(Press play for slideshow. Press paper icon to see captions)&nbsp;</em></p><p>Not all German POWs had fond memories of their imprisonment in America. Reinhold Pabel&rsquo;s experience was not as idyllic as Velte&rsquo;s. Yes, Pabel did get to take courses he wanted to &mdash; he learned Persian, for example &mdash; but he said the Nazi and anti-Nazi tensions ran high in Camp Grant in Rockford, Ill. Prisoners were forced to pick sides and those who were anti-Nazi could face beatings by the Nazis.</p><p>Pabel was also not enamored with the U.S. government&rsquo;s efforts to &ldquo;de-Nazify&rdquo; prisoners. The audio piece below tells the surprising story of how Pabel learned about the American way of life on his own. (Vocal reenactments courtesy of Peter Spies)</p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="166" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=https%3A//api.soundcloud.com/tracks/124240519&amp;color=ff6600&amp;auto_play=false&amp;show_artwork=false" width="100%"></iframe></p><p><em>Edie Rubinowitz is a professor of journalism at Northeastern Illinois University and a former WBEZ news reporter. You can follow her on Twitter @<a href="https://twitter.com/edester" target="_blank">edester</a>.</em></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Tue, 10 Dec 2013 16:36:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/hosting-enemy-our-wwii-pow-camps-109344 An Italian family escapes from bombings during WWII by bicycle http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/italian-family-escapes-bombings-during-wwii-bicycle-108498 <p><p>Tea Cejtin was a just a teenager growing up in the city of Turin when Mussolini joined forces with Hitler, and pulled her home country of Italy into World War II.</p><p>At first, the bombings were minor.</p><p>But then the Americans joined the war effort. Cejtin visited the Chicago StoryCorps booth with her daughter, Helen, to tell what happened next.</p><p><strong>Tea:</strong>&nbsp; So came 1942 and the U.S.A. decided to come into (the) war. It was the great difference for us.&nbsp; They were coming to bomb our cities, not one plane or two airplanes, but formations of airplanes.</p><p><strong>Helen:</strong> What were people doing in the shelter?</p><p><strong>Tea</strong>: Oh, everybody was scared. Some people cried, some people screamed, and other people were saying the litany: &lsquo;Ora pro nobis, ora pro nobis&rsquo; (pray for us, pray for us), all the saints they could think of. And some people trembled.</p><p><strong>Helen:</strong> What were you doing?</p><div class="image-insert-image "><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/Tea circa WWII.jpg" style="float: right; height: 225px; width: 175px;" title="Tea circa WWII (Photo courtesy of her family)" /></div><p><strong>Tea:</strong> Yeah, it seems to me that I was trembling, mainly. Then, at the end of this huge bombing &hellip; it would be around 2, 3 a.m., and the city was light like daytime because there were so many fires.</p><p>At this point, Maria&rsquo;s family decided Turin (Torino in Italian) had become too dangerous, and they had to leave.</p><p><strong>Tea: </strong>We thought that we should go to a little town nearby, about 25 kilometers from Torino, but how do we go? We took bicycles. But my mother didn&rsquo;t know how to go on a bicycle. My father was able to find a tandem.</p><p>To find out what happened next, click on the audio above.</p><p><em>Katie Mingle is a producer for WBEZ and the Third Coast Festival.&nbsp;</em></p><p><iframe frameborder="no" height="450" scrolling="no" src="https://w.soundcloud.com/player/?url=http%3A%2F%2Fapi.soundcloud.com%2Fplaylists%2F6250422" width="100%"></iframe></p><p>&nbsp;</p></p> Fri, 23 Aug 2013 10:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/storycorps/italian-family-escapes-bombings-during-wwii-bicycle-108498 Remembering the war at home http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/remembering-war-home-108209 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Flickr Kymberly Janisch.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Orland Park resident and curious CPA Bill Healy is a World War II history buff. Recently he was out with some friends after a game of golf and one of them brought up German POW camps in the suburbs. Bill was shocked! He&#39;d never heard of them before, so he wrote Curious City to see what we could dig up.&nbsp;</p><p>We&#39;ve paired Bill up with independent reporter Edie Rubinowitz to help separate fact from fiction and unearth details about a history unkown to many Chicagoans. You can follow the investigation as it happens via the reporter&#39;s notebook below. If you have tips on where to look or sources for us to consider, we&#39;d love to hear them! Please comment below.&nbsp;</p><p><iframe frameborder="0" height="750" src="http://embed.verite.co/timeline/?source=0AgYZnhF-8PafdE5ITnZtTlhVajYxc0NTbWxxVUlWcHc&amp;font=PTSerif-PTSans&amp;maptype=toner&amp;lang=en&amp;hash_bookmark=true&amp;width=620&amp;height=750" width="620"></iframe></p><p><a href="http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/about-curious-city-98756">Curious City</a>&nbsp;is a news-gathering experiment designed to satisfy the public&#39;s curiosity. People like you&nbsp;<a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/#!/ask">submit questions</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://curiouscity.wbez.org/#!/ask">vote&nbsp;</a>for their favorites, and WBEZ reports out the winning questions in real time on&nbsp;<a href="http://www.facebook.com/curiouscityproject">Facebook</a>,&nbsp;<a href="http://twitter.com/#!/WBEZCuriousCity">Twitter&nbsp;</a>and the reporter&#39;s notebook above.</p></p> Mon, 29 Jul 2013 09:24:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/series/curious-city/remembering-war-home-108209 Filipino veteran fights for recognition http://www.wbez.org/news/filipino-veteran-fights-recognition-108111 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/main-images/Filipino vet.jpg" alt="" /><p><p dir="ltr" id="docs-internal-guid-46c07d48-f72d-e676-0403-6f80e1c1932d">Nearly seventy years after the end of WWII, war veteran Amado Bartolome is fighting what may end up being the final, insurmountable battle of his lifetime &mdash; one against American bureaucracy and the rigid processes that have denied him military benefits all these decades. Now 86 years old, Bartolome recounts his time as a Filipino guerrilla, helping U.S. troops find and capture Japanese soldiers that fled into the mountains of East Central Luzon. &ldquo;If I am not the one scouting, maybe thousands or hundreds American soldiers [would have] died,&rdquo; he remembered.</p><p dir="ltr">Bartolome is just one of many Filipino veterans in this situation today. He lives with his wife in a seniors highrise in Edgewater, on Chicago&rsquo;s North Side. Together, they survive on $13,000 a year in Social Security benefits and a pension he receives from a job he held at UIC. He does not receive a <a href="http://benefits.va.gov/BENEFITS/factsheets/serviceconnected/filipinovets.pdf">monthly military compensation that his injury would entitle him to</a>, because he has not been able to prove his service to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The same has been true for Filipino WWII veterans across the U.S., as well as the Philippines.</p><p dir="ltr">The U.S. first engaged the Japanese in the Philippines in 1941, disastrously, with General Douglas MacArthur fleeing the islands. But MacArthur returned in 1944 and &mdash; with the help of the guerillas &mdash; defeated the Japanese. Bartolome served until he was hurt by a Japanese hand grenade.</p><p dir="ltr">In the immediate aftermath of the war, Congress passed the Rescission Act of 1946, stripping Filipino veterans of their entitlement to all military benefits. Over time, some of those benefits have been restored. Also after the war, the U.S. embarked on an effort to document all the fighting units and individuals that had served its interests in the Philippines.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;(There) was a large-scale campaign in the media to monitor this recognition and to call forward everybody who served,&rdquo; explained Col. Nicholas Amodeo, Assistant Deputy for Programs for the U.S. Army. &ldquo;The idea was to make sure everybody who served in any capacity, who had any claim in any of these statuses, came forward.&rdquo; Amodeo explained that starting in 1946, all Filipino fighters were asked to report to offices in the Philippines with evidence showing when they enlisted, with whom, where they fought, and what they did.</p><p dir="ltr">The U.S. and Philippine governments closed this window in 1948. &ldquo;So we went through a period of time, 5-8 years of reconciliation and review,&rdquo; said Amodeo, &ldquo;<a href="http://research.archives.gov/description/6921767">recognizing and revoking recognition of individuals and units</a>.&rdquo; Those names that were recognized were added to the roster of names held at the National Personnel Records Center in Missouri, the authoritative repository of names of all people considered to have served on behalf of the U.S.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Bartolome&rsquo;s name is not on that roster. In fact, the National Archives in Maryland has no record of H Company, 2nd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment BMD, ECLGA, with whom Bartolome claims to have served.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">But Bartolome can point to piles of papers in his cramped apartment. &ldquo;File 201 complete,&rdquo; he said, leafing through them. &ldquo;Form 23 ... .&rdquo;</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Bartolome has saved his discharge papers, gathered affidavits from comrades and commanders attesting to his service, and even holds up a photo of himself posing with a group in uniform. &ldquo;So everything is here in my whole documents,&rdquo; he said.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">But according to Col. Amodeo, having records in your possession that show you served is not sufficient. &ldquo;An adjudication may have revoked your recognition, and only when we go through this process do we have the detailed information,&rdquo; he said. It&rsquo;s not clear whether that is what happened with Bartolome&rsquo;s unit.</p><p>&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">There are serious consequences for Bartolome. For one, he said he has not been able to receive monthly compensation from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Nor has he been able to claim a more recent benefit that was extended to Filipino veterans in 2009: a lump sum equity payment. As part of the Stimulus Plan, Congress approved one-time payments of $15,000 to Filipino veterans living in the U.S., and $9,000 to those living in the Philippines. For Bartolome, this would amount to more than a year&rsquo;s income.</p><p>Roughly 19,000 Filipino veterans have been able to claim the one-time payment, but roughly 12,000 applicants who claim to have served were turned down, for a number of reasons. But according to Nicholas Pamperin, Acting Director of the Manila Regional Office for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, the majority of denials were attributed to an inability to find the applicant&rsquo;s name on the military roster.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;They are hopeless, depressed, lonely, frustrated,&rdquo; said Jerry Clarito, Executive Director of the Alliance of Filipinos for Immigrant Rights and Empowerment in Chicago, and a past organizer of Filipino veterans fighting for equity benefits. Clarito said many of these veterans need the money, but the lack of recognition is, in fact, a deeper issue. &ldquo;They know they served, they were in the battle, and now they find that there&rsquo;s no help. That they&rsquo;re being ignored.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">The White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders assembled a working group to look into the issue, but it <a href="http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/07/09/recognizing-extraordinary-contribution-filipino-veterans">recently reaffirmed the existing process for claims</a>. Bartolome&rsquo;s final hope is a hearing before the Veterans Board of Appeals this month.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Odette Yousef is WBEZ&rsquo;s North Side Bureau reporter. Follow her <a href="http://www.twitter.com/oyousef">@oyousef</a> and <a href="http://www.twitter.com/WBEZoutloud">@WBEZoutloud</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 19 Jul 2013 08:42:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/news/filipino-veteran-fights-recognition-108111 Pearl Harbor Day event pulls up old fighter plane, and zebra mussels too http://www.wbez.org/news/pearl-harbor-day-event-pulls-old-fighter-plane-and-zebra-mussels-too-104260 <p><p>Crowds gathered in a north suburban harbor Friday to watch a World War II fighter plane lifted out of Lake Michigan in honor of the 71st anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;m just another guy who likes old airplanes,&rdquo; said Chuck Greenhill, the elderly pilot and aviation enthusiast who sponsored the event.</p><p>The plane was requested by the&nbsp;National Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida, which plans to restore it. A museum in Glenview has its eye on the plane once it is ready to show. The group of marines providing security at the event expressed pride for being part of the historical restoration of military artifacts. North shore locals also came through to observe.</p><p>Greenhill was joined by his extended family, many of whom are aviation enthusiasts and pilots. He declined to reveal how much it cost him to sponsor the transportation and lifting of the water-logged plane.</p><p>The plane was transported into the harbor so that it could be more easily lifted using a crane.</p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6800_042-scr.JPG" style="height: 218px; width: 290px; float: left;" title="Pilot Stacey Greenhill stands in front of the rescued Wildcat. (WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)" />The aircraft came up in two pieces because the cockpit had been torn off in the original crash. And much of the body of the aging vessel was covered in zebra mussels, an invasive species that has taken over the Great Lakes in the last two decades.</p><p>&ldquo;The airplane is actually in a really good state of preservation, but what happens is that the mussels are slowly making this a little more difficult to do,&rdquo; said Chuck&rsquo;s daughter, Stacey Greenhill, who is also a pilot. &ldquo;It&rsquo;s only a matter of time before they won&rsquo;t be able to bring them up anymore, or they won&rsquo;t be worth bringing up.&rdquo;</p><p>Removing the tough layers of grayish white zebra mussel shells will be a large part of the job of the preservationists who attempt to restore the plane.<img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/RS6804_059-scr.JPG" style="height: 225px; width: 270px; float: right;" title="Chuck Greenhill is the pilot and aviation enthusiast who sponsored the event. (WBEZ/Lewis Wallace)" /></p><p>Chuck Greenhill said the Wildcat F4 saw combat abroad, but crashed during training in Lake Michigan in 1945.</p><p>&ldquo;Later in the war, they rotated the front line fighters back because they were becoming obsolete and they used them for training,&quot; he said. &quot;It had a take-off accident, and went right off the front of the ship. It had to be quite an encounter, can you imagine, in the middle of Lake Michigan on a December day.&rdquo;</p><p>The training pilot survived the accident.</p><p>&ldquo;These airplanes are really, really important to our being here today,&rdquo;Stacey Greenhill said. &ldquo;These are the tools that helped us win the war.&rdquo;</p></p> Fri, 07 Dec 2012 14:46:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/news/pearl-harbor-day-event-pulls-old-fighter-plane-and-zebra-mussels-too-104260 World War II vet recalls the bombing of Berlin http://www.wbez.org/content/world-war-ii-vet-recalls-bombing-berlin <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/photo/2011-November/2011-11-11/B-17_Flying_Fortress_Wikipedia Commons.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>In honor of Veterans Day, we have this harrowing story from a local man who served in World War II.</p><p><img alt="" class="caption" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/story/insert-image/2011-November/2011-11-11/B-17_Flying_Fortress_Wikipedia Commons.jpg" style="width: 300px; height: 310px; margin: 5px; float: left;" title="B-17 bombers, like the one Bill Wagner served on, flying over Europe during WWII. (Wikipedia Commons)">Between 1942 to July 1945, Northbrook resident Bill Wagner was a B-17 radio operator and gunner with the "Mighty Eighth," the much lauded Eight Air Force division that suffered nearly half of all U.S. Air Force casualties during WWII.</p><p>Their casualty rates were so high because they conducted a daring daylight bombing campaign against Nazi-occupied Europe, including missions deep into Germany; Wagner flew in 24 of those missions.</p><p>On his 24th combat mission, Wagner’s plane was shot down. He was taken captive and held as a POW.</p><p>But it was not the first time he had shot down during combat. On one particular mission on a cold February morning, he was on one of 2,000 planes sent to bomb the German capital; a mission from which, initially, his plane did not return.</p><p>In 2007, Wagner spoke at the Northbrook Public Library, and shared the story of this particular bombing campaign. It’s harrowing, and a good reminder of what the average solider can go through over the course of even one mission. As Wagner put it, these were “ordinary guys to whom extraordinary things happened.” You can listen in the audio above.</p><p><em><a href="../../series/dynamic-range">Dynamic Range </a></em><em>showcases hidden gems unearthed from Chicago Amplified’s vast archive of public events and appears on weekends. Bill Wagner spoke at an event presented by <a href="http://www.northbrook.info/">Northbrook Public Library</a> in August of 2007. Click </em><em><a href="../../episode-segments/eighth-air-force-veteran-recalls-world-war-ii-experiences">here </a></em><em>to hear the event in its entirety.</em></p></p> Fri, 11 Nov 2011 23:01:00 -0600 http://www.wbez.org/content/world-war-ii-vet-recalls-bombing-berlin