This is a fantastic article by Paul Kengor:
I recently took my two teenage sons to a talk by Frank Kravetz, a 90-year-old World War II veteran who survived Hitler’s Nuremberg prisons. Frank published his story in a memoir, Eleven Two: One WWII Airman’s Story of Capture, Survival and Freedom.
Frank’s ordeal began in November 1944 during a bomb-run over Germany. He took his regular position, crammed into the tail of a B-17. The target was Merseberg, a major industrial area. He flew amid an air armada of 500 heavy bombers—each carrying eighteen 250-pound bombs—escorted by 900 fighter planes.
While the Americans were ready for business, so was the Luftwaffe, which set aside every aircraft to defend Merseberg. Frank’s plane came under hot pursuit by German fighters. Frank took them on with a twin .50 caliber machine gun. It was a dogfight, and Frank was shot badly. His B-17 was filled with holes. The crew had to bail.
Frank was bleeding profusely. His buddies tried to get a parachute on him, but it opened inside the plane. They wrapped it around him, trying not to cross the chords, and tossed him out. To Frank’s great relief, the chute opened. Instantly, the deafening chaos quieted, and Frank floated like on angels’ wings.
The tranquility halted with a rude thump as Frank hit the ground and tumbled like a shot jackrabbit. German soldiers seized him.
Thus began “a lousy existence,” or, as Frank dubbed it—“Hell’s journey.” Destination: Stalag 13-D. In the end, Frank’s weight dropped to 125 pounds.