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Norman Bussel

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Norman Bussel “was born in Memphis, Tenn. and currently lives in Mohegan Lake, N.Y.  During World War II, he served as a radio operator/gunner on a B-17 bomber.  Flying out of Rattlesden, England on April 29, 1944, he was shot down over Berlin with four of his crew losing their lives.  He was interned in Stalag Luft IV, at Grosstychow near the Baltic Sea.  In February 1945, as Russian troops advanced, he was among the POWs the Germans moved by boxcar to a camp at Nuremberg to avoid liberation.  As American forces closed in on Nuremberg, he was then moved to Moosburg, in Bavaria, and ultimately liberated by General Patton's tank corps on April 29, 1945.

Returning home, he attended Memphis State University on the GI Bill and then joined the family supermarket business.  In 1965, he entered the publishing field, becoming an Editor at Progressive Grocer Magazine and was later promoted to Profit Center Manager.  Later, he joined Supermarket Business magazine as Research Director.  In 1980, he and his wife, Melanie, founded Melnor Publishing, Inc., providing the drug store industry with marketing information.  Now retired, he has been active for more than 20 years in the Hudson Valley Chapter of American Ex-Prisoners of War (AXPOW) serving as Trustee, Adjutant and Commander.  He has served in the N.Y. State Department of AXPOW as member of the Finance Committee and as delegate to national conventions.  He also has held positions in the National organization as Public Relations Director and as committee member.  Elected as a Director on the board of the AXPOW Service Foundation in March 2000, he was named Vice President in September 2000 and elected President in 2003.  He was also Editor of the Foundation TIMES newspaper. He retired from the Foundation in 2007 to concentrate on his writing.” Norman Bussel is the author of My Private War: Liberated Body, Captive Mind: A World War II POW's Journey.

One Reader of My Private War: Liberated Body, Captive Mind: A World War II POW's Journey said, “Norman Bussel had been a nineteen year old on a B-17 over Germany in 1944, when his plane was shot down. He was a POW for about 13 months. The memoir is about his wartime experiences and his subsequent decades-long battle with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). It sounded very interesting, so I ordered his book from amazon, and read his absorbing and emotional tale.  In the first chapter, Mr. Bussel describes being shot down; he parachuted out through the bomb bay, and was the last crewman to get off the plane alive. Four of his fellow ten man crew died.  The first two-thirds of this 300 page memoir describes his joining the Army Air Force, his training, and then his experiences as a POW. I found it really quite riveting.

My Private War: Liberated Body, Captive Mind: A World War II POW's Journey
Norman Bussel  More Info

There are 25 short chapters, and chapter nine, describing his bailing out and capture in Germany is aptly entitled "Germany: A Descent into Hell". As he was in his parachute descending he wisely tossed away his dogtag, which had the letter "H" for his religion. He is Jewish. Bussel was then nearly lynched by German farmers, before being picked up by soldiers. The treatment of POW's in Germany was beyond brutal. Denied medical care, denied food, denied warm clothes, along with witnessing the murder of some prisoners. And a few beatings thrown in for good measure. Bussel lost 65 pounds during his imprisonment, weighing only a bit more then 100 pounds when the camp was finally liberated by the American army.

The last one third of the book deals with Bussel's post-war career and struggle with PTSD. His alcohol problem, quickness to anger, claustrophobia, a failed first marriage. Mr. Bussel seems to have turned a corner in 1980 when he, without counseling, gave up alcohol and stopped smoking, and shortly afterwards began to go to counseling sessions at the Montrose NY, VA hospital.  Chapter 21 is entitled "POW's Healing POWs" as Bussel discusses what a revelation it was for him to meet other POW's who shared many of his same problems.

Norman Bussel had a career as a writer, and editor, but ultimately working with POW organizations became his avocation. For example, he became president of the American Ex-Prisoners of War Service Foundation.  It took Mr. Bussel years to write his memoir; it sat unfinished in his computer for years. After his granddaughter read the manuscript and urged him to complete it, "My Private War" was published last year. Norman Bussel is in his mid-eighties now.”

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