The internment of LTC Misuraca
I, James I. Misuraca, was a bombardier flying bombing missions from the United Kingdom to the European Continent. On April 24, 1944, due to enemy action and mechanical problems we were forced to land in Switzerland.
When Allied forces contacted the Swiss border I attempted to escape, which resulted in two failed attempts. I was booked into the Geneva city jail and subsequently, under armed guard, put on a train heading north to a prison camp as punishment for the failed escape attempts.
After an all day train ride the train stopped in a remote area and we were then trucked to a compound with single story buildings encircled with barbed wire. There was a sign over the entrance that read WAUWILERMOOS.
There were armed Swiss guards and the entrance with guard dogs. We were processed in a briefed by the Commandant, a stern faced Swiss Captain who stated that any attempt to escape would be severely dealt with.
We were assigned to a wooden hut heated by one wood burning stove. The other occupants were American officers and two Russian fighter pilots.
We slept in a wooden bunk filled with straw and lice. The food rations consisted of a thin soup with slivers of potatoes and cabbage with dark bread. The rations never alleviated our hunger.
The guards were coarse and crude. The officers looked at us like we were scum. The Commandant was obviously a hater of Americans, a martinet who seemed quite pleased at our predicament, sneering at us with a tight-lipped smile.
The Swiss called this a punishment camp but it was more like a concentration camp with a double perimeter of barbed wire and guards patrolling with dogs.
Latrine and wash facilities were primitive. No soap, no towels, no hot water, no letters, no packages, no movies, no magazines, no radio or newspapers and certainly no passes.
There was no hearing, no tribunal, and no court. They did as they pleased.
Little did we know as we passed through the gates of Wauwilermoos that we had been transformed from Swiss Internees and had become Prisoners of War.
James I. Misuraca