Oskar Elster

The uncle of my grandmother

Luftwaffe pilot and member of the Afrika Korps under Rommel.

Captured and taken as Prisoner of War to Crossville Tennessee.


I can still vividly remember the first time I met him.


It must have been in the late 1980s or early 1990s, and I was already at school back then. He and his wife "Tante Lotte" had invited us for coffee and cake. Together with my great-grandmother, mum and grandmother, we then sat for a very sophisticated afternoon snack in the Güstrower Strasse in Greifswald. Tante Lotte was the sister to my great grandmother.


Oskar was a tall, broad-shouldered man who left a stark impression on you when you met him. I was in awe. For some reason I remember well that he and his wife mostly listened to classical music, operettas and operas and were very well versed in Greifswald's cultural scene.


Bored as I was at their meticulous flat and given that the grown ups started to talk about politics, I was desperate to at least find one record whose title would ring some sort of bell. But I gave up in their selection, as I quickly reached my limits.


I already knew then that Onkel Oskar had been in the war. Also that he was in Africa. But I never asked any further questions. Apparently nobody else in the family did either, as I am finding out now so what we are faced with is a dilemma of actually not knowing anything, or very little..


But, when I was given his letter last week that showed him being a POW in Crossville USA, my interest was captured. As a result, I would now like to finally find out more. I hope to research more on where this man flew in Africa, when was he captured and how. How was his life as a prisoner of war in Crossville America. And  who is this person in general, that once was a high ranking officer in the Luftwaffe and that later came back to Greifswald and to lead a normal life with his wife in the former GDR.


Join me in my research, my successes and likely many failures.

October 2020