Have you ever heard of Oberleutnant Franz Von Werra?

Looking for information on Oberleutnant Franz Von Werra

Please help me find information about Second World War German Ace Franz Von Werra!

What's the son of an American WWII GI doing interested in escaped German prisoner of war Oberleutnant Franz Von Werra?

According to legend, as described in Reader's Digest's True Stories of Great Escapes, (Copyright Reader's Digest Association, 1977) Franz Von Werra was instrumental in improving conditions for Allied POW's in Germany during the war; his book about his incredible escape from Allied prison guards was banned by the German Propaganda Ministry as being too pro-British, and his escape and several other attempted escapes were all conducted in a manner befitting a gentleman and an honorable soldier.

On top of that, he escaped from Canadian authorities into America before America had entered the War, while we were technically not at odds with Germany!

Von Werra was known for wild exaggerations of his exploits, and wild excesses like keeping a pet lion at his aerodrome (Headquarters Staffel of the Second Gruppe of No. 3 Fighter Geschwader). His claim to be a Baron is considered dubious at best. But the truth of his amazing escape is irrefutable.

At the time of his death (he crashed into the sea after engine trouble) he was Commanding Officer of the First Gruppe of No. 53 Fighter Geschwader--the "Ace of Spades" Geschwader, then based in Holland.

A few months ago I posted a question here, asking if anyone could provide me with newspaper clippings from Ogdensburg, New York, in 1941, where he came across the border, or from England, Canada, or Germany, relating to this man's activities. My wish came true! (See below.)

This report/electronic memorial to the exploits of Oberleutnant Franz Von Werra will continue to grow as I collect more information. A nice photo which could be scanned in would be especially appreciated, and of course, a translated (English) version of his book would be extraordinary! Von Werra deserves recognition. When he crossed into America he was not an enemy, he was a hero.

Thank you in advance for any help.

Spring, 2000:

Dschoint Ventschr Filmproduktion is making a documentary about von Werra. They have interviewed numerous people (including YH&OS!) and are wrapping up the project soon. Please visit their web site for more information!

Dschoint Ventschr Filmproduktion

Note: The book Reader's Digest excerpted is called THE ONE THAT GOT AWAY, written by Kendall Burt and James Leasor.

In March, 1997 I received an email telling me that there was a movie made with the same name, which I have since seen (it's wonderful, although it's accuracy is probably somewhat debatable.) Also, the writer found references to von Werra in Voices From The Third Reich, published 1989. On page 78 of that book, according to the email, an interview with Werner Bartels briefly mentions von Werra. Bartels was in the same railroad car (in Canada) with von Werra in 1941 when von Werra escaped.

We have been sent some wonderful newspaper clippings about Von Werra from Ogdensburg, NY in January 1941 by the daughter of a doctor involved in the Von Werra case.

I have scanned in the pictures and typed in the text of one of these news items and placed it on the web:

Ogdensburg Journal, Monday January 27, 1941

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Last modified March 10th, 2000.
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