The Price of Freedom

The Price of Freedom premiered May 2008.

Liberated troopsLiberated Allied troops, among the first liberated on the Japanese mainland from camp at Omari (credit: National Archives).
On December 7, 1941, Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor shocked America. Across the country millions of teenagers answered the call to arms. Eager to serve their country, they left behind high school proms, college classrooms and jobs. But for many, this moment in time would forever change their lives—in ways they could not possibly fathom.

The Price of Freedom is an award-winning film that tells the tale of a different band of brothers: a small group of WWII veterans whose bonds go far beyond surviving combat. The film chronicles their tales and reveals the surprising and tragic twists of fate that would forever haunt them. Each of the men was prepared to fight and die for his country, but none imagined surrendering to the enemy—a brutal ordeal thousands of POWs would not survive.

Six of our POWs were held in Germany—including at the infamous Berga slave labor camp—while another was imprisoned by the Japanese. All endured starvation diets and the threat of torture and execution.

A german campView of the German camp Stalag 7A following its liberation (credit: Library of Congress).
As their fellow POWs died from abuse, we hear how the men bonded together in their quest for survival.

The men recount how their long nightmare came to an end and recall the joy of their liberation. For Norm Fellman, his freedom came not a moment too soon. After losing 110 pounds, the 80-pound teenager couldn't have survived another week. For Norm and the others the euphoria of their liberation was short-lived, however, as fate had another cruel twist in store for them. And this time the blow would come from an unlikely foe.

While Hollywood produced a steady stream of stories featuring great battle heroes, the POWs' saga was largely ignored. Few Americans knew that most POWs had fought bravely in brutal combat. Fewer still understood the suffering and traumatic psychological effects that came from long-term starvation and imprisonment. As the POWs made their way home, they were wounded once again—this time not by bullets, but by insults. Many people called the POWs cowards, saying they took the easy way out; instead of fighting, they surrendered and sat out the war in a comfortable camp like the men of the Hogan's Heroes television show.

A rescued POWRescued US POWs, Berga, Germany (credit: Library of Congress).
Our characters recount how they buried the insults and their undeserved shame, along with the horrors of war, deep inside themselves. Incredibly, it would take fifty years before they could reach out and help one another heal their wounds. As their role in helping to preserve America's freedom is being fully recognized, it is only now that these men are embraced by the public as true American heroes.

Intelligent and heartfelt, The Price of Freedom is an emotional and inspiring film that is sure to resonate not only with veterans, but with viewers of all ages.

 

 

The Price of Freedom was produced by Steve Kalafer and Cynthia Van Cleef, and directed by Bruce Norfleet.

Visit www.axpow.org for information about the POW experience, personal narratives, information on veteran benefits, POW support groups, legislation affecting POWs and much more.

www.b24.net includes photos and information about WWII Prisoners of War held in German POW camps, and offers original research to help visitors track missing WWII personnel.

Learn more about POW-MIA issues at the Rolling Thunder®, Inc. homepage, designed to educate the public that many American prisoners of war were left behind in previous wars, and to help correct the past and protect future veterans.

 

© Copyright 2008 Bruce Norfleet, Steve Kalafer and Cynthia Van Cleef. All Rights Reserved. Photos courtesy of First Light Films, LLC and New Jersey Studios, LLC.

 
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