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Richard Dern manuscript

 Collection — Container: Single Folder Collections - 2008 Box 1 (08.0001-08.0074), Folder: 08.0073 - Folder 1
Identifier: 08.0073

Scope and Contents

This collection contains the memoir of Richard Dern who served in the Luftwaffe on the Eastern Front during World War II.


  • 1925-2001
  • Other: Majority of material found within 1923-2001
  • Other: Date acquired: 2008-03-03
  • Other: Date accessioned: 2020-06-09


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open to all researchers.

Conditions Governing Use

All requests for permission to quote, publish, broadcast or otherwise reproduce from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Associate Dean for Special Collections & Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Florida State University Libraries as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.

Biographical or Historical Information

Richard Dern was born October 14, 1925 in a small village outside of Frankfurt called Schwalbach. In 1926 his family emigrated to Buffalo, NY. In the 1930s during the Depression, his family moved to Blossom, NY to start a farm. In 1939 his mother and brother went to visit family in Schwalbach. While vacationing, Germany invaded Poland and World War II began. Dern and his brother, while American citizens, were able to return to the US but chose not to, to stay with their mother, who was not a US citizen and unable to return. At the beginning of the war, Richard and his brother began apprenticeships at a manufacturing plant of optical lenses for cameras. Two years after their arrival in Germany, Dern regained his German Citizenship and he and his brother were called for the labor service called the “Arbeitsdienst." Later, Dern received his draft notice and was inducted into the Luftwaffe. For training they were sent to Brügges, Belgium. From there he was sent to Fürth, near Nuremberg, for training on the 88mm Anti-aircraft Flack Cannon where he was first trained as a loader (position K3), then moved to the aimer position (K2).

Dern’s unit was sent to a Naval Base in a fjord on the Barents Sea in Norway. Dern and his unit were later sent to the Russian front, to guard the airport near Leningrad. His unit was tasked with later to cover the retreat of the German forces. With the surrender of Germany, Dern’s 88 crew was one of the few chosen to board a ship headed back to Germany. Their ship, however, ran out of fuel, and they went ashore to Denmark, where they were able to drop off their wounded to the Danish Red Cross. Dern and the rest of the men had to trek across the land back to Germany. When they made it to Germany, they were then sent to a POW camp. Dern made it back to his village in Schwalbach, and back to his farm life. While he was in town to acquire ration tickets, the American Sergeant in charge put Dern in jail for “treason” against the US. The officer in charge dismissed this, however hiring him as an interpreter for the MPs. He met his wife while working for the US military and married on February 1, 1947. In 1951 moved back to the United States, to Shelby Center, NY. The couple then moved to Lockport in 1952 where he and his father bought a machine shop where they started “Dern Machine Co., Inc.” in 1989, he and his wife, Helga, retired to Cape Coral, FL, and then moved to Boynton Beach in 2014. Richard Dern passed on February 19, 2016.


1 folders

Language of Materials


Custodial History

This collection was donated by Roger Freed. The collection was acquired by the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience on March 3, 2008.

Custodial History

Transferred from the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience to FSU Libraries Special Collections & Archives in July 2022.

Richard Dern manuscript
Mallory McGovern
June 9, 2020
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the FSU Special Collections & Archives Repository

116 Honors Way
PO Box 3062047
Tallahassee FL 32306-2047 US