Hell to Reality: One prisoner’s journey


1939 Torun, Poland; the journey was perilous. The Mayer family; Peter, Mary his wife and their two sons John and Vladek, were under deep peril and had a decision to make. Early in the morning Peter was conscripted to a mandatory sentence by regulation under the threat of death at gunpoint by the Gestapo to be the “Volksdeutsche,” informer. Peter had no choice but to immediately leave Torun to flee to his cousin Klaus Kramke. He settled near the borders of Germany and Lithuania. Peter became one of many hundreds of migratory people without a name, identity, or a place to call home. Peter was victimized, attacked and left for dead on one of his trips to Lithuania. Unable to care for his own needs and bad bodily injuries, Peter was taken in as a refugee. Peter’s memory was obscured. In 1940 Peter was forced to join the Russian army. In 1941 the German army invaded Russia and Lithuanian provinces. Capture and transfer was inevitable to the infamous “Stalag 18” camp for migratory prisoners. Providence was with Peter and even as an unknown without a past he was recognized by family, his cousin Klaus. In 1943 Klaus and Peter escaped from Stalag 18 and fled to Olsztyn and later to his native home town Torun. In 1945 the Russian invaders liberated Torun. After the war Peter had his mind set on true freedom. The Baltic Sea was the only way to freedom; this idea never left his mind. Accounts from “Hell to Reality” is loosely based on the harrowing accounts of war, persecution and an identity that never left or abandoned Peter. Names and locations were changed.