Not Without Honor


The Nazi POW Journal of Steve Carano
With Accounts by John C. Bitzer and Bill Blackmon
Edited by Kay Sloan
978-1-55728-884-4 (cloth)
September 2008


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“Carano and his friends never succumbed to something called ‘Barbed-Wire Psychosis,’ when men literally turned their heads to the wall, gave up, and died. The key was not to be totally preoccupied with a single action or thought, whether it was yourself, your mother’s chocolate cake, or counting the barbs on the wire. . . . These narratives are moving testimonies to human possibilities.”
—From the Foreword

On a cold December day in l943, Claudio “Steve” Carano’s B-17 bomber was shot down over the Dutch coast on the return flight to England. Thus marked the beginning of his eighteen-month incarceration in Stalag 17 b, the camp made famous in the Billy Wilder film and in the televison show Hogan’s Heroes. During his confinement Carano secretly kept a journal in his Red Cross blank book, filling it with meticulously penned entries and illustrations. It takes the reader deep behind the notorious wire fence surrounding the prison and into the world where men clung to their humanity through humor, faith, camaraderie, daily rituals, and even art.

Not Without Honor threads together the stories of three American POWs—Carano; his buddy Bill Blackmon, who was also at Stalag 17 b; and John C. Bitzer, who survived the brutal “Death March” from northern Germany to liberation in April 1945. At times the journal reads like a thriller as he records air battles and escape attempts. Yet in their most gripping accounts, these POWs ruminate on psychological survival. The sense of community they formed was instrumental to their endurance. This compelling book allows the reader to journey with these young men as they bore firsthand witness to the best and worst of human nature.

Kay Sloan is a novelist and poet and professor of English at Miami University in Ohio. Among her books are The Patron Saint of Red Chevys, a Barnes and Noble “Discover Great New Writers” selection, and The Birds Are On Fire, winner of the New Women’s Voices Prize. She is the author of two books on American cultural history, The Loud Silents: Origins of the Social Problem, and Looking Far North: The Harriman Expedition to Alaska, 1899 with William H. Goetzmann.

Lewis H. Carlson is professor emeritus of history at Western Michigan University and the author of We Were Each Other’s Prisoners: An Oral History of World War II American and German Prisoners of War.

Not Without Honor opens a window to a segment of World War II history that few of us have ever read about, much less understood.”
Louisiana History