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  • John Adler

Oscar D. Mayer, “The Handsomest Man in Haubstadt!”


Oscar D. Mayer

The below memories are recounted by Elizabeth (Betty) Mayer Fischer, the sister of Oscar Mayer. She was 13 years old when he died. Oscar was the great grandson of Nicholas Adler. She recalls that her brother Oscar was known as “the handsomest man in Haubstadt.”

Memories of Oscar

Oscar Dionysius Mayer entered his military service on 14 December 1942 and was

sent for training at Camp Phillips in Kansas, then onto Fort Riley in Kansas, and then to

Camp McCain in Mississippi. Words from his best buddy: “We were very close friends.

We ate and slept together for two years. Our bunks were side by side.”

Oscar left for the war in Germany in July 1944. He went missing-in-action on 20 January

1945.

When Oscar and his unit were taken prisoner by the Germans, they were not treated

badly but they had to walk nearly 20 miles in cold, snowy weather after having only one

bowl of noodle soup. They then went by truck to a schoolhouse where they stayed for 3

days. They were treated well there also.

Oscar was in good health until he came down with a sore throat. He could only drink

water and was unable to eat the dry bread due to the pain in his throat. The Germans

took him to see a doctor and never brought him back. His friends were later told that he

had died. They saw the Germans carry him away but would not let anyone see where

they took his body.

Oscar Mayer died on 28 March 1945 at age 23 of laryngeal diphtheria and subsequent

heart failure. He received the Purple Heart and was buried in Saint Avold Cemetery in

Lorraine France (Plot A, Row 25, grave #44) 27 miles east of Metz.

Oscar is buried two rows from Sgt. Frank P. Kiesel, who also gave his life for his country

in WWII. These two young men grew up in rural Haubstadt as neighbors and friends.

His parents received $103.79 from the government for evidence of his death.

His life insurance was $5000.00.

Notes about the Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial

The Lorraine American Cemetery and Memorial in France covers 113.5 acres and

contains the largest number of graves of our military dead of World War II in Europe,

a total of 10,489. Their headstones are arranged in nine plots in a generally elliptical

design extending over the beautiful rolling terrain of eastern Lorraine and culminating

in a prominent overlook feature. Most of the dead here were killed while driving the

German forces from the fortress city of Metz, France toward the Siegfried Line and

the Rhine River. Initially, there were over 16,000 Americans interred in the St. Avold

region in France, mostly from the U.S. Seventh Army's Infantry and Armored

Divisions and its cavalry groups. St. Avold served as a vital communications center for

the vast network of enemy defenses guarding the western border of the Third Reich.

The memorial, which stands on a plateau to the west of the burial area, contains

ceramic operations maps with narratives and service flags. High on its exterior front

wall is the large figure of St. Nabor, the martyred Roman soldier overlooking the silent

host. On each side of the memorial, and parallel to its front, stretch the Tablets of the

Missing on which are inscribed 444 names. Rosettes mark the names of those since

recovered and identified. The entire area is framed in woodland.

The cemetery is open daily to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., except December 25

and January 1. It is open on host country holidays. When the cemetery is open to the

public, a staff member is on duty in the visitor building to answer questions and

escort relatives to grave and memorial sites.

As in most wars, more soldiers died from diseases than were killed on the battlefield.

Diphtheria outbreaks accompanied WWII and the disruption in Europe: in 1943, there

were 1 million cases in Europe, with 50,000 deaths (not including the USSR).

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