Abigail Addington-May grew up knowing little about her father’s
World War II service. She knew he served in Europe but just wasn’t
interested whenever the topic came up in discussion.
roll our eyes and say ‘World War II again?’ My brothers and sisters
simply had no interest,” said May.
Her father, Emerson
Swartz, died in December 1993, taking those personal stories and details
with him. What he left behind was a box of photos, letters and other
mementos that now are the only trace to his World War II experience.
It was this desire to understand her father’s life and World
War II service that brought Abigail, her husband and two children to
the George C. Marshall European Center for Security Studies for a
U.S. Army Captain Emory Swartz led an infantry company with
the 9th Division 47th Infantry in western Europe and was wounded
near St. Lo. France during the allied advance towards Germany. He
served briefly as the officer in charge of Internment Capt #8 in
Garmisch after hostilities. (Family contributed photo - World War II
In an email, May reached out to the public affairs office
hoping to visit the place where her father once served
shortly after the war.
“My father, Maj. Emerson A.
Swartz, U.S. Army, was in command of the POW (Prisoner of
War) camp at Garmisch-Partenkirchen at the end of the war. I
have read that the George C Marshall center is located where
the POW camp was. Is there a possibility that my family
could come inside and visit the site? Is there anything on
the campus that shows the history of the POW camp?” she
RESEARCH LIBRARY PROVIDES SOME CLUES
During their visit, the family spent time in the Marshall
Center Research Library.
The research library
supports the Marshall Center’s programs and research needs
with a collection of graduate-level research materials. But,
the library researchers also have a good understanding of
the legacy of Marshall Center’s buildings before the center
was inaugurated nearly 25 years ago.
built for the German Wehrmacht in the late 1930s as
barracks, the installation came under U.S. control in late
April 1945 during the closing days of the war. It was
immediately put to use as an internment camp for senior
military officers and other National Socialist officials.
Swartz was one of several Army officers assigned to run
the internment camp during the postwar years 1945 to 1947.
Research Librarian Elena Efimenko was more than
eager to sit down with the family and share some history
about the Marshall Center and learn from their family
history as well.
August 3, 2017 - Abigail Addington-May, daughter of Maj. Emory
Swartz, and her family at the George C. Marshall European Center.
The family was retracting Swartz’s World War II service. (Marshall
Center photo by James Brooks)
“I'm very happy to help this or any
other family find information about their ancestry. Too many
of us know little about our family history, and I was
delighted to give the family some references and internet
links to help learn more about their father’s wartime
service. The Swartz family shared some pictures and info
with us, it was wonderful,” said Efimenko.
MEMENTOS SHARED WITH MARSHALL CENTER
Along with their
curiosity in family history, the May family brought with
them some family mementos. Among the items was an original
map of Garmisch-Partenkirchen with hand-drawn symbols
identifying U.S. Army units in the area.
of the Joint Staff Maj. Joshua Southworth translated the
“The symbols showed where 2nd Battalion 47
Infantry regiment headquarters were along with two company
headquarters, military police headquarters and the medic
station,” said Southworth.
The Swartz family also
brought personal photos their father took while he was here
According to a historian with the local
tourist center, the photos were of a solemn parade on June
10, 1946, when Garmisch’s St. Martin church received new
bells for the bell tower. During the war, all church bells
were seized by the Nazis and melted down for war purposes.
After the war, the citizens of Garmisch collected money in
order to buy the new bells.
FAMILY LEAVES WITH
BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF SERVICE
The May family knew
Emerson Swartz led an infantry company with the 9th Division
47th Infantry in western Europe and was wounded near St. Lo.
France during the allied advance towards Germany. He served
briefly in Garmisch after hostilities and like thousands of
others left the Army. His last day in uniform was at Fort
Dix, New Jersey, on Christmas Eve 1946.
“To see the
Marshall Center and learn about what my father did here
after the war really helps my family and I make sense of
what he did. It was a great visit and we now have more
things we can look at online and learn more,” said May
By James Brooks, George C. Marshall Center ECSS
Comment on this article