Podcast of the Interview: Scroll to 18:46 Minutes to hear Len’s Interview
In August 1944, Len Kovar was a 22-year-old navigator/ bombardier when he climbed aboard his B-24 named Con Job for what would be his 11th and last flight.
Shot down over Hungary, Kovar survived 9 months as a POW, including a forced march through deathly cold conditions while escaping advancing Soviet Union forces at the end of the war.
Len Kovar chronicles his capture and time as a POW wonderfully in his book: WWII Prisoner of War: How I Survived.”
As part of a Front & Center’s capturing living history series, I have the honor of speaking to Len Kovar.
Len Kovar, welcome to Front & Center: Military Talk Radio.
* I really loved the book. I thought it was a great read. It has an interesting back-story. Tell our listeners how this book came to me some 65 years after the event?
* In the book you write that not until you were shot down did you realize there are so many levels of fear. Can you explain?
* Shortly after being shot down over Hungary in 1944, locals captured you. You talk movingly about it dawning on you that your captors were discussing whether to kill you. In fact at one point you started to beg for your life, but then stopped. And in a strange way you believe that stopping actually saved your life.
* Once you were placed in a POW camp, things didn’t necessarily getting a lot better. What was that like? How were you treated by your German guards and did that change over time? You mentioned a few kindnesses that they bestowed.
* You also write that hunger was always at your elbow and that you and other POWs used to write lists of food. I would think that this would only remind you of what you didn’t have, but it seems that I gave you hope.
* I found it fascinating that despite being held prisoner, you had a pretty good idea of what was going on in the war.
* A remarkable feature of the book is that it contains photos of prison camps. Where did the photos come from?
* As the Soviet troops approached, you write that a new fear gripped you and the other POWs.
* You and many other POWs were in a terribly cramped train car being taken to another POW camp, when you had a moment of clarity regarding what you would do if you survived. Can you explain?
* Tell us about the march you and German troops made before the advancing Soviet troops. A one point you decided to give up and die.
* Like cold molasses, a bleak day slowly poured its way into being.
* After the war, you graduated from seminary and were a minister for 50 years. When you were in the POW camp did faith play a role in your survival? Did you have any inkling that you would make the church your life’s work?
* How did that time as a POW change you and your outlook? Was it a growth experience? Or was it something that you spent years trying to forget and recover from?
* What did you learn from you time in combat and as a POW? Both the good and the bad?
* Many Afghanistan and Iraq veterans are coming to grips with their combat experiences. Do you have any advice for them?
Len Kovar, former POW during World War II, thank you for your time and thank you for your service.
For a complete written transcript of the radio program go to: http://defensetracker.com/web/?p=2151