American Airman’s World War II Souvenir Returns to Austria

Stan Muczynsky was a B-24 radio operator and gunner during WW II. He was shut down over what was then Yugoslavia and subsequently became a Prisoner of War (POW) in Stalag 17B, which was located near the city of Krems in Lower Austria.

After being liberated, and while waiting for a transport to France, Muczynsky and some fellow POWs decided to go „souvenir hunting“ in the area, and Muczynsky took a watch fob with a coin and some elk ivory from a nearby farmhouse.

After returning from the war, Mr. Muczynsky became a math teacher and school principal in Ohio. Shortly before passing away in 2014, he confided in his son-in-law, Richard, and asked him to return the watch fob – still in his possession – to its rightful owner in Austria.

Through a concerted effort, Mr. Muczynsky’s last wish is about to become a reality. Between the Austrian Honorary Consul in St. Louis, Justin Ungerboeck, the Austrian Embassy in Washington, DC, and with the help of the Jefferson Barracks POW-MIA Museum in St. Louis, contacts were made with the Ludwig Boltzman Institute for Research on the Consequences of War in Graz, and with the Lower Austrian Regional Museum in St. Pölten.

The museum agreed to receive the artefact and to attempt to identify the original owner. However, chances that the original owner or any heirs can be found after so many years are very slim; in this case the museum has offered to provide a home for the watch fob – and the story behind it - in its collection.

As a result, the artefact and the framed story that comes with it were handed over to Consul Ungerboeck during a ceremony in St. Louis and sent on their way back to Austria – an American Airman’s last wish has been honored. 


All photos: Sharon Whitehall /Whitehall Photography