Date of Interview
Paul Peterson was born 1 June 1924 in Minneapolis, Hennepin County, Minnesota. The oldest child of parents of Swedish and Norwegian ancestry, Paul grew up in Minneapolis and graduated from Central High School in 1942. Following high school Paul attended the University of Minnesota before being drafted into the US Army in May 1943. After Basic Training at Camp Wheeler, Georgia, Paul had additional schooling at the University of Alabama until early 1944; he then was assigned as a scout/observer to the 422nd Regiment, 106th Infantry Division, and in September 1944 shipped out to Europe. Sent to the line near St. Vith, Belgium, Paul's unit was overrun by the German offensive in December 1944, and with hundreds of other he was captured by the Germans on 21 December 1944. Paul spent the next four months as a POW in Germany, at camps IV-B (Muhlberg), VIII-A (Gorlitz) and, after a thirty-two-day march, XI-B (Fallingbostel). Conditions steadily worsened, and hunger and disease claimed the lives of many. Paul was finally liberated when advancing British troops overran Camp XI-B on 16 April 1945. Paul was evacuated to hospital, first in England and then to the US; he spent the time until his discharge in March 1946 in various medical facilities. During this time Paul was married (wife Florence) and made plans for life after the military. Again a civilian, Paul returned to Minneapolis, graduated from the University (class of '51), and remained ten years as an instructor in Speech and Theatre Arts. He switched careers in the mid-1960s, becoming a Lutheran minister, first in the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod and after 1978 in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA). Paul retired in 1991.
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Saylor, Thomas, "Oral History Project World War II Years, 1941-1946 - Paul Peterson" (2002). Oral History Project: World War II Years, 1941-1946. 58.