|Horst Pryzbilski"Thanks to the help of an American soldier, I owe my life."|
|Here Herr Pryzbilski visited the German Sandweiler Military Cemetery in 2007. "I found many gravestones with the years 1927 and 1928, and knew that all these young men that found their last rest here were 17 and 18 years old. And how near I came, also born in 1927, to being in a grave here at the German cemetery."|
|The lives of Ike Refice and Horst Psyzbilski intersected for just for a moment in January 1945. Years later the German sought - and found - the American who saved his life, described on another page "Enemies to Friends". Horst has kindly shared his military experience, his time as a POW in Massachusetts, and his postwar life in the DDR with me.|
|Horst grew up the second son in a loving home with four brothers, with parents who "kept their sons close to their heart." He was drafted at age 17 in April 1944 and was sent to the Eastern Front in November 1944 as a Panzergrenadier. After a short deployment without combat, their unit was pulled back for the Ardennes Offensive. "My deployment during WWII and the Ardennes Offensive was short, but for me, painful...The war hit me here very hard." Icy cold, poor rations, dirt and cold - "exhausted and weak, we waited for our next attack."|
|The "difficult end of my war experience" came on 8 January 1945 at Asterhof Farm in Dahl Luxembourg. "Around us was the earshattering noise and the unending crack and burst of grrenades". Horst was severely wounded in the hip by a grenade as he jumped into a ditch for cover. He awoke in an American hospital, "aware of my luck that I came out of this bitter slaughter alive.." In early 1945 he traveled from Le Havre to Southampton and then on to a POW camp at Fort Devens Massachusetts. Here he rapidly healed with "better food than in the German Army." Soon he was working as a wardboy in the hospital, a laundry and kitchen helper, and a "Commando in the mosquito war" around camp. He couldn't help but compare his POW experience with the conditions the German POWs endured in Russia. "I can only say that I would surely not have survived my serious injuries in Russian imprisonment." In 1946 he was released and by the end of the year return to his hometown of Bueckgen. His parents were overjoyed to find their son reported as missing was alive! Both Horst and his brother returned.
The East German government prohibited travel to the West, and finding the American who saved him had to wait until 2005. In the intervening years Horst worked as a supervisor in a factory and was eventually widowed. He eventually found Ike Refice though the assistance of Luxembourg American Friendship group leader Constance Georgen. "Thanks to all the doctors and nurses who took care of me, treated me, healed me, and got me back on my feet again."