Murray Hyman Kirsh served in the Canadian Army during the Second World War. After his grandparents were killed by Nazis in Europe, Kirsh felt it was his duty to enlist to serve in the war. From 1942 to 1944, Kirsh served on the home front as a military officer guarding Allied prisoners of war. Listen to his story of German POWs trying to escape during his watch.
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"There were nine wounded German prisoners in the ward. I was sitting on a bed and suddenly I see a leg go out the window. So I yelled to my buddy at the front to come and I jumped out the window; and I started running after this fellow. I caught up to him, of course, because he was on crutches. knocked him down and I started beating the hell out of him."
After I did my training, my feet went flat; and the ruling was at that time that if your feet went flat, you didn’t go overseas. What happened was, at that time I found out that my grandparents in Poland were killed by the Germans, and I asked to be paraded in front of the commanding officer, when everybody was busy going overseas. I told him what happened with my grandparents; and I said, I wanted to go overseas. And he said to me, look, I’m busy, be a good boy and just do what I tell you. So I went back to my base and I originally was in the heavy field artillery. Then when I went back to the base, they transferred me into the military police [Canadian Provost Corps].
At that time, they had also sent over German prisoners to Canada. They did crazy things during the war. And I was on guard duty one night. I was on 11:00 until 8:00 shift. I was just sitting on a bed with the, there was one light on in the ward; there were nine wounded German prisoners in the ward. I was sitting on a bed and suddenly I see a leg go out the window. So I yelled to my buddy at the front to come and I jumped out the window; and I started running after this fellow. I caught up to him, of course, because he was on crutches. I knocked him down and I started beating the hell out of him; and I broke his nose, I broke his teeth and the officer of the day came running up …
Oh, I should tell you, I shot in the air first and told him to halt. But he didn’t, that’s when I caught up to him. The officer there heard the shot and he came running out, and he said, what happened? I said, the SOB tried to get away. He said, well, I’m going inside, he says, kill the bastard. So I thought to myself, oh no. I dragged him back by one leg. I threw him in through the window. I turned on all the lights; and I sat up tall (I was a big strong, healthy kid, 18 years old), and I said, Achtung, Ich bin ein Jude [attention, I am Jewish]; and if any of you SOBs try to get away again, I’ll kill you. And they were all lying there shaking in their boots. I left the lights on all night and that’s the story.
My mother, may she rest in peace, she sent me, they used to send me parcels, big parcels all the time because my parents were in the grocery business. They used to send me big boxes of food and you know, stuff, and I used to share it with all the boys. And one time she sent me, and she used to send me even roasted chickens and stuff like that, you know, cooked chickens. But one time when she sent me the parcel with the chicken, the chicken went bad. So we all lined up; and with the chicken wrapped up, and we went outside, we gave it a military funeral. It was a funny instance.
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