Edmee Viscardi worked as a clerk in the supply division of the Weingarten camp, and recalls how one POW, Augusto Bier used to bring them pastries from the camp bakery each morning.
“He’d pick up a big basket full of doughnuts the first thing and bring it to us,” she recalled. “They were absolutely wonderful. He was able to get it from the bakery because we were the Quartermaster area and supplied the bakery with everything they needed. We figured that if we were giving them all this stuff, we should at least get something
back in return!”
Teresa Drury worked as a clerk for the Quartermaster’s office and had special memories of Bier, who ran errands for the office and kept the place clean.
“It was fantastic,” she recalled of the prisoner, with whom all in the office formed an unusually close bond. “To communicate, I used my high school Latin, he used Italian and we would pantomime to get the meaning.”
Bier was the fellow who made the daily requisitioning run at the camp bakery each morning, bringing a delightful basket full of baked goods to the staff of the Quartermaster Officer. Because of these warm rolls and his equally warm personally, he became a favorite of the staff in the Quartermaster’s office, and at the end of the war,
they held a going-away party of sorts. They weren’t allowed to provide alcohol to the prisoners, but Drury recalled a way that they got around the prohibition.
“The interior walls of the buildings were unfinished 2×4 studs,” she recalled. “We’d pour a drink and set it on one of the boards where the prisoners could reach it and then turn away. When we’d turn back around, the drink would be gone.”
Upon closure of the camp, the staff of the Quartermaster’s office gave Bier several farewell gifts, including a pocketknife, handkerchiefs, some socks, a bottle of whiskey and some cigars. Joking that he could always sell the gifts if he ran short of funds, Bier said, “this must mean I’m a capitalist now,” and stuck the cigar between
Eugene Phillips also recalled the special fondness he felt for Bier:
Most of us developed some special friendships with prisoners. My favorite was August Beer (sic) who was from northern Italy and of Austrian ancestry. He was my office handy man (I was the camp’s director of supply) and was with me almost my entire tour of duty there.
August was a delightful young married fellow with two children. He always carried the children’s photograph, and we’d sometimes see him secretly studying it.
At our office Christmas parties, he received many small gifts and treats, especially from the women on the staff. I have a photo of the two of us saying goodbye as he boarded the train at the start of his long journey home.
Teresa Drury also had contact with Augusto Bier after he departed the Weingarten camp to return to his home. “He wrote and asked for a care package after he’d gone back to Italy,” she said. Bier’s family had suffered during the war, and he faced challenges upon his return. While at Weingarten he had learned that bombing in his
hometown had blinded one of his children.
They were just people like we were–just nice people,” said Yvonne Donze. “They didn’t want to be fighting either.”
Text Copyright 2003 – David Fiedler