Missouri veteran who escaped Nazi prison camp gets medal

1 year 6 months 2 weeks ago Sunday, April 03 2016 Apr 3, 2016 Sunday, April 03, 2016 9:17:00 AM CDT April 03, 2016 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
BOONEVILLE - Police took two into custody after a car chase late Wednesday night. Police said the chase began... More >>
2 hours ago Thursday, October 19 2017 Oct 19, 2017 Thursday, October 19, 2017 12:09:37 AM CDT October 19, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS - Southwest's first all-female crew took off from Missouri on Wednesday. The flight traveled from St. Louis... More >>
4 hours ago Wednesday, October 18 2017 Oct 18, 2017 Wednesday, October 18, 2017 10:07:00 PM CDT October 18, 2017 in News
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Jaden Schwartz had his third career hat trick to help the St. Louis Blues beat the... More >>
4 hours ago Wednesday, October 18 2017 Oct 18, 2017 Wednesday, October 18, 2017 10:06:59 PM CDT October 18, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Columbia Police Department responded to a call at 4:15 p.m. Wednesday afternoon in West Columbia. They are... More >>
7 hours ago Wednesday, October 18 2017 Oct 18, 2017 Wednesday, October 18, 2017 7:39:00 PM CDT October 18, 2017 in News
MEXICO-- As Domestic Violence Awareness Month comes to a close, a report by the Violence Policy Center shows that Missouri... More >>
7 hours ago Wednesday, October 18 2017 Oct 18, 2017 Wednesday, October 18, 2017 7:29:00 PM CDT October 18, 2017 in News
ASHLAND - Children, parents and politicians attended a Youth Town Hall featuring Congresswoman Vicky Hartzler, R-Missouri, Wednesday evening at the... More >>
7 hours ago Wednesday, October 18 2017 Oct 18, 2017 Wednesday, October 18, 2017 7:14:00 PM CDT October 18, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - After an active threat on MU’s campus, some are disappointed with the MU Alert system and question its... More >>
7 hours ago Wednesday, October 18 2017 Oct 18, 2017 Wednesday, October 18, 2017 6:51:00 PM CDT October 18, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - The Downtown Leadership Council met Tuesday to decide how to spend fees paid by developers to compensate businesses... More >>
9 hours ago Wednesday, October 18 2017 Oct 18, 2017 Wednesday, October 18, 2017 5:33:00 PM CDT October 18, 2017 in News
SPRINGFIELD (AP) — An Arkansas man who made bomb threats to a county courthouse in Missouri so his court hearing... More >>
10 hours ago Wednesday, October 18 2017 Oct 18, 2017 Wednesday, October 18, 2017 4:31:00 PM CDT October 18, 2017 in News
MOBERLY - Police arrested a man Tuesday on suspicion of more than a dozen crimes, including rape, statutory rape, sodomy,... More >>
11 hours ago Wednesday, October 18 2017 Oct 18, 2017 Wednesday, October 18, 2017 3:31:00 PM CDT October 18, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA - Six years after being one of the first 16 schools to incorporate the Coulter Awards, MU has become... More >>
11 hours ago Wednesday, October 18 2017 Oct 18, 2017 Wednesday, October 18, 2017 3:14:00 PM CDT October 18, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA – People struggling with alcoholism can find help more easily with a new online navigator tool released by the... More >>
11 hours ago Wednesday, October 18 2017 Oct 18, 2017 Wednesday, October 18, 2017 3:12:00 PM CDT October 18, 2017 in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — A judge has fined a central Missouri prosecutor more than $12,000 for failing to provide records... More >>
11 hours ago Wednesday, October 18 2017 Oct 18, 2017 Wednesday, October 18, 2017 2:52:00 PM CDT October 18, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA – Rep. Vicky Hartzler, (R)-Missouri, presented a new piece of legislation she says is aimed at getting more people... More >>
12 hours ago Wednesday, October 18 2017 Oct 18, 2017 Wednesday, October 18, 2017 2:24:00 PM CDT October 18, 2017 in News
SPRINGFIELD (AP) — A new report sheds light physical confrontations between a Missouri hospital's staff and patients that put the... More >>
12 hours ago Wednesday, October 18 2017 Oct 18, 2017 Wednesday, October 18, 2017 2:13:00 PM CDT October 18, 2017 in News
MOUNTAIN VIEW (AP) — Authorities have confirmed that remains found in March in southern Missouri are a woman who has... More >>
12 hours ago Wednesday, October 18 2017 Oct 18, 2017 Wednesday, October 18, 2017 2:08:00 PM CDT October 18, 2017 in News
COLUMBIA- The MU community made its voice heard Wednesday, laying out the characteristics, qualities and experiences it's looking for in... More >>
13 hours ago Wednesday, October 18 2017 Oct 18, 2017 Wednesday, October 18, 2017 1:20:00 PM CDT October 18, 2017 in News
BOONE COUNTY -As the U.S. House starts working on the 2018 Farm Bill, mid-Missouri's congressional representative talked with agricultural producers... More >>
14 hours ago Wednesday, October 18 2017 Oct 18, 2017 Wednesday, October 18, 2017 12:16:00 PM CDT October 18, 2017 in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 55°
3am 55°
4am 54°
5am 53°
6am 52°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

2:07a
Today with Kathie Lee & Hoda
3:00a
Early Today
3:30a
Early Today
2:30a
Paid Program
3:00a
Paid Program
3:30a
Paid Program

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
Superstore
7:30p
The Good Place
8:00p
Will & Grace
8:31p
Great News
9:00p
Chicago Fire
7:00p
Supernatural
8:00p
Arrow
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld