Oliver Lothrop Jr.

[Age 84] A Westinghouse manager, he spent four months in a German prison camp during World War II.

In 2004, Mr. Lothrop wrote an account of his experience as an infantryman imprisoned in Stalag 4-B.

September 12, 2007|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,Sun reporter

Oliver Ames Lothrop Jr., a retired Westinghouse manager who wrote of his four-month confinement in a German World War II camp, died Sept. 4 at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston after suffering a cerebral hemorrhage while vacationing on Nantucket. The Towson resident was 84.

Born in Newton, Mass., he completed his freshman year at Williams College before enlisting in the Army. "I had no desire to become a commissioned officer. ... I wanted to survive without taking the responsibility for others," he wrote in 2004 in an account of his World War II experiences as an infantryman.

Sent to France aboard the Queen Elizabeth, he was captured by German forces during the Battle of the Bulge and herded into an "old rail boxcar" as a prisoner of war. He wrote that his captors loaded "sixty of us in each car with plenty of horse manure -- and off we went without food or water and not room enough for all to sleep at one time."

During the 10-day trip, the British air force bombed a rail yard, and his car was nearly hit. He spent the rest of the war about 30 miles north of Dresden, Germany, at Stalag 4-B, a prisoner-of-war camp surrounded by barbed-wire fences and attack dogs.

"Discipline was enforced in each section of the camp. If someone was caught stealing anyone else's food or belongings, all 200 men in his hut could hit him," he wrote. "I know of no case in which this retaliation occurred."

He wrote that "breakfast consisted of a cup of ersatz [synthetic] coffee probably made from parched barley grain. ... I estimated that we received about 500 to 600 calories of food a day."

He recounted that his group had a "forbidden radio buried under the loose brick on the floor" which brought nightly British Broadcasting Corp. news of the war. His campmates made a map of Europe and used yarn to show the advancing positions of Russian, British and American troops.

"Sometimes the [German] guard would look at the map to see how much progress the Allies had made," he wrote.

When he was liberated by advancing Russian forces in the 1st Ukrainian Army on April 23, 1945, he estimated he had lost one-third of his body weight. He also suffered a hearing loss caused by exposure to mortar explosions.

He was awarded a Purple Heart for a shrapnel wound, three battle stars and the Bronze Star.

After earning a chemistry degree at Williams (he wrote that he "had a terrible time hearing the professor" because of his hearing loss) and graduating from the Harvard Business School in 1953, he moved to Ruxton and became a manager for the Westinghouse underseas and aerospace divisions. His work was classified by the Defense Department.

He later worked as a business consultant and retired at age 60 because of his hearing loss and difficulty communicating. "He worked with the Veterans Administration to get the latest hearing technology. He suffered a 95 percent hearing loss," said a daughter, Louisa Lothrop Affleck of Atlanta. "A month before he died, the VA was trying out new telephone technologies on him."

Mr. Lothrop enjoyed bird-watching, collecting stamps and coins, and photography. A member of the Country Club of Maryland, he played golf until the week before he died. He played tennis until last year. He operated a vintage Ford tractor at a vegetable garden he maintained at a Hereford farm he owned.

An Eagle Scout, he was interested in Scouting throughout his life.

Plans for a graveside service in Williamstown, Mass., are incomplete.

In addition to his daughter, survivors include his wife of 54 years, the former Berenice Hewitt; another daughter, Carol L. Broadbent of Cleveland; and five granddaughters.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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