American POWs of World War II: Forgotten Men Tell Their Stories

By Tom Bird | Go to book overview

Peter Neft

Peter Neft, a cocky, Jewish pilot was never affected by any end-of-the- war plot to eradicate Jews. The worst thing that happened to him was that he, along with almost every Jewish-American POW, was segregated from his non-Jewish comrades in January 1945, which may or may not have been part of the plot mentioned, But for all relevant purposes, he grew from the extreme condition he survived through.

Because of the friendships I made, the fellowships of other POWs, the helping each other, that experience, we keep helping each other, a group of POWs is like a big, happy family. We may have disagreements, minor disagreements, but we are friends. Even though we aren't from the same camp, we don't know each other, we still share the same experience. We have a bond between us.

Now I'll tell you how I happened to become a POW. It was January 29, 1944. I was a co-pilot on a B-17. We were supposed to bomb Frankfurt that day. As luck would have it, we were assigned a plane from another squadron, not our regular airplane. And we took off and proceeded on with our group to Frankfurt, and just as we dropped our bombs, one of our engines went out. The prop could not be feathered. Anyone not in the Air Force probably doesn't know what that means. The plane would normally fly on three engines, but if you can not feather the bad engine, it slows the airplane down considerably. We became a straggler and we drifted back out of formation. The German fighters jumped us. Exactly what happened, happened so quick I couldn't see it. Believe me, I saw German fighters, and that was it. I asked the flight engineer to transfer

-87-

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