The drab blanket of night had already folded over the bleak Polish countryside when Colonel Paul Goode walked into one of the prison barracks of Oflag 64 in Szubin, Poland at 5 p.m. on the afternoon of January 20, 1945.
“Listen up,” began the camp’s ranking American officer. “We’re moving out tomorrow. That’s all I know. So dispose of everything you don’t want to carry. Don’t bother to ask anything, this is all I can tell you. Moving west. Good luck to all of you.”
Since his capture in the Po Valley north of Florence, Italy the previous September, U.S. Army Lieutenant Isham Reavis had been moved several times to different POW camps. Now, as the Soviet Red Army maintained its relentless advance pushing Germany toward ultimate defeat, Reavis and approximately 1300 American POWs held in Oflag 64 were to begin a march meant to take them 400 miles from Szubin to Luckenwalde, Germany south of Berlin. It would prove to be a harrowing 39-day journey that fewer than 500 would complete.