Mulde River: Crossing to Freedom

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Allied POWs eagerly crossed the Mulde River on a make-shift bridge in their return to American control in the 104th’s sector.

    The flow of Allied prisoners of war over the Mulde into the Division zone, which began in the latter part of April, continued throughout May and constituted a major but welcomed problem for our Division. US Air Corps veteran Donald H. Jones of Barberton, Ohio, was one of the liberated and recalled, "I first met the 104th Timberwolf Division on April 26, 1945 about 3:00 PM in the afternoon. I was a American Prisoner of War and this was our 80th day of a forced march which began on February 6 1945 as the Russians were closing in on our camp, Stalag Luft IV at Grosstychow, Poland up near the Baltic Sea.
    On April 25, 1945 we were resting at a small village and we heard this small airplane flying closer and closer and it was a L-5 or artillery spotter plane, an American plane. He flew around wagged his wings and left. We were told that we would be marched out the next morning (April 26, 1945). As we started marching we soon came upon the German soldiers dug in along both sides of the of the road, and my feeling was that we would all be machine gunned and the Germans would claim we were trying to escape, but thanks to God we were allowed to pass safely and soon we came through more villages and saw the white flags of surrender flying. Finally at around 3:00 PM we were on a wide road going uphill and then I saw this American Jeep parked in the middle of the road, a G.I. was standing on the hood with a pair of binoculars to his eyes waiting on us, as we proceeded our German guards handed over their rifles and soon we came upon many soldiers of the 104th Timberwolf Division. We hugged, shook hands, tears were flowing and my personal feeling was that in an instant I passed from death unto life, freedom was something I didn’t want to lose again in my life time."

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Displaced persons cross the Mulde on the make-shift bridge.

The flow of displaced persons across the Mulde continued in both directions, with hordes awaiting permission to cross the bridge. As the displaced persons approached the bridge sites they were screened to determine nationality, residence, and authority to cross the Mulde. The thousands of displaced persons who had been enslaved by the Nazis were now free and on their long trek toward home. Our 104th Division processed 41,417 displaced persons.

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This page last updated: 11 September, 2003
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