Missouri veteran who escaped Nazi prison camp gets medal

9 months 2 weeks 14 hours ago April 03, 2016 Apr 3, 2016 Sunday, April 03 2016 Sunday, April 03, 2016 9:17:00 AM CDT in News
By: The Associated Press

KANSAS CITY (AP) — Edwin Shifrin's family knew he successfully escaped from a Nazi prison camp during World War II, but it wasn't until one of his children started digging into his wartime past that they learned the details of the clever escape.

Shifrin, 93, seldom discussed his time at war, but he received a prisoner-of-war medal in February after his son Dan Shifrin dug through old news reports and his father's military records and pieced together what happened.

"It is an amazing story," said Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill, who expedited the medal process after hearing about it from Shifrin's daughter in January. Shifrin received the award during a family-only ceremony in the suburban St. Louis apartment that he shares with his wife of 67 years.

"This is the very best part of my job," McCaskill said by phone from her Senate offices in Washington D.C.

Edwin Shifrin's memory is fading, so his son Dan shared his story:

Assigned to the Army's 30th Infantry Division, 1st Battalion, 117th Infantry Regiment, Company C, Shifrin landed on France's Normandy beach in June 1944 a week after the D-Day invasion and then fought the Germans in battles at St. Lo and Mortain.

The Germans captured him on Aug. 7, and Shifrin was sent from a prison camp to his final stop, Poland lockup Stalag IIIC, which was about 90 miles from Berlin. Telegrams to U.S. family members notified them he was missing in action.

Shifrin was among the camp's roughly 1,000 prisoners, many of whom formed "an escape committee" and drew up a getaway plan.

Each morning when the Germans did simply a numerical headcount — no actual names were called out — a prisoner designated by the committee would hide, touching off what turned out to be a futile search by guards. The hiding prisoner would later quietly rejoin the others, but the befuddled guards would lower the next day's headcount by one.

On the second day, two prisoners would hide, touching off another futile search and getting the guards to lower the next day's head count by one again. That continued with three and four prisoners hiding and the guards classifying them as escaped. Eventually, four men actually escaped, but the guards didn't notice because they had already lowered the roll-call numbers to account for the prisoners who had hidden.

Shifrin and some other prisoners got their chance in mid-January 1945, just weeks before the Russians liberated the camp. Dan Shifrin said "the rest of their journey is pretty hazy," but what's known is they hitchhiked on Allied supply trucks and purloined rides on horses and bikes on their way to Italy. By that April, Shifrin was back on U.S. soil, in Boston.

After getting his law degree, he became a St. Louis attorney and worked well into his 80s. He seldom discussed his time at war.

"We knew he'd been in the war, that he had been captured and that he escaped. That's about it. He didn't talk about it," said Dan Shifrin, who lives in the Denver area. "My guess is he figured it was just part of his life — many went through it, many didn't return. Many of those who did return didn't return in one piece."

Chronicling his dad's past, Dan Shifrin added, "[It] gave me much greater appreciation for what he and others went through."

"I guess also it's that these men and women are dying at an unbelievable rate and their stories are being lost. This is one more story we can tell and keep alive."

More News

Grid
List
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) - Missouri Gov. Eric Greitens is cutting $146 million of spending from the budget, including tens of... More >>
4 hours ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 4:13:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA - After a budget resolution aimed at repealing Obamacare was reached Jan. 12, groups in Missouri plan to protest... More >>
6 hours ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 2:50:00 PM CST in News
CALIFORNIA (AP) - Central Missouri Democrats nominated an attorney who formerly worked for the Missouri Senate to run in a... More >>
6 hours ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 2:36:00 PM CST in News
HILLSBORO (AP) - The Missouri State Highway Patrol says a 28-year-old man died after a four-wheeler he was riding on... More >>
6 hours ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 2:09:00 PM CST in News
NICKELVILLE (AP) - A southwest Missouri county highway is expected to be closed until Thursday as crews clean up an... More >>
6 hours ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 2:02:00 PM CST in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) - Police are investigating after a 34- year-old man was found dead outside a hospital in north... More >>
9 hours ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 10:51:00 AM CST in News
COLUMBIA - Cafe Berlin reopened Monday for brunch, after being closed following a destructive break-in. The break-in on Saturday night... More >>
10 hours ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 10:05:00 AM CST in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) - St. Louis' fortunes may be looking up, thanks to a surprising surge in business startups. ... More >>
11 hours ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 9:41:00 AM CST in News
COOPER COUNTY - Just before 5 a.m. Monday morning, the Cooper County Fire Protection District responded to a structure fire... More >>
12 hours ago January 16, 2017 Jan 16, 2017 Monday, January 16 2017 Monday, January 16, 2017 8:29:00 AM CST in Top Stories
CAMDEN COUNTY - Deputies took a suspect who stabbed three people Sunday into custody without incident. The suspect is awaiting... More >>
22 hours ago January 15, 2017 Jan 15, 2017 Sunday, January 15 2017 Sunday, January 15, 2017 10:20:00 PM CST in Top Stories
BOONE COUNTY - The northbound lanes of Highway 63 near Hinton Road were closed after the engine compartment of a... More >>
23 hours ago January 15, 2017 Jan 15, 2017 Sunday, January 15 2017 Sunday, January 15, 2017 9:49:07 PM CST in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — Rideshare services such as Uber and Lyft are hoping to expan d services to Missouri customers... More >>
1 day ago January 15, 2017 Jan 15, 2017 Sunday, January 15 2017 Sunday, January 15, 2017 7:50:00 PM CST in News
GRANBY (AP) — Anoth er Missouri school district is c onsidering whether to join 18 others that have adopted a... More >>
1 day ago January 15, 2017 Jan 15, 2017 Sunday, January 15 2017 Sunday, January 15, 2017 7:46:03 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA — Steven Hughes thought he found the perfect car for his family of five — until the title proving... More >>
1 day ago January 15, 2017 Jan 15, 2017 Sunday, January 15 2017 Sunday, January 15, 2017 4:59:00 PM CST in News
MARSHALL (AP) - Missouri authorities are searching for a suspected parole violator they say exchanged gunfire with a state trooper... More >>
1 day ago January 15, 2017 Jan 15, 2017 Sunday, January 15 2017 Sunday, January 15, 2017 4:27:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA - A break in at popular downtown restaurant Cafe Berlin forced the restaurant to close Sunday, according to a... More >>
1 day ago January 15, 2017 Jan 15, 2017 Sunday, January 15 2017 Sunday, January 15, 2017 2:19:00 PM CST in News
COLUMBIA - Mixed reactions came out of mid-Missouri Sunday as the weekend ice storm began to wind down. While... More >>
1 day ago January 15, 2017 Jan 15, 2017 Sunday, January 15 2017 Sunday, January 15, 2017 12:07:00 PM CST in News
LAKE OZARK - After being stuck indoors waiting for this ice storm to end, some people might be getting a... More >>
1 day ago January 15, 2017 Jan 15, 2017 Sunday, January 15 2017 Sunday, January 15, 2017 5:42:00 AM CST in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 54°
9pm 49°
10pm 48°
11pm 46°
12am 45°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

7:00p
The Celebrity Apprentice
9:00p
Timeless
10:00p
KOMU 8 News @ 10
7:00p
Howie Mandel All-Star Comedy Gala
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
The Celebrity Apprentice
9:00p
Timeless
7:00p
Howie Mandel All-Star Comedy Gala
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld