A Nazi in Ogdensburg

A Nazi in Ogdensburg

by Jeff Macharyas

There was a big building up there, a short distance away. Lots of windows and lots of lights. I could see iron bars on the windows. It looked like, perhaps, it was a prison.”

—Luftwaffe Oberleutnant Baron Franz Xaver von Werra describing the St. Lawrence State Hospital after his arrest.


Franz von Werra
Franz von Werra

Franz Xaver von Werra was born on July 13, 1914, in Leuk, canton of Valais, Switzerland. Franz was born to modest means. His father, Leo Freiherr von Werra, went bankrupt and Franz, along with his sister, went to live with family friend, Louise Carl von Haber, who brought the children up with wealth and education. They were not told of their true lineage.

In 1936, Franz joined the Luftwaffe, commissioned a Leutnant. He served in the French campaign and was often photographed with his pet lion, Simba, who became the unit’s mascot. He scored several victories in England and France, but on September 5, 1940, Franz was shot down over Kent, England. After his capture by an Army cook, Franz was to become a prisoner of war and make his first escape attempt. His second attempt occurred on October 7, 1940 while imprisoned in the London area. He remained free for five days before being recaputred. He was then sent to Derbyshire, where he would make another attempt on December 20, 1940. He made it to the cockpit of a plane at an RAF base near Nottingham, before a suspicious squadron leader arrested him a gunpoint at the controls of the plane.

On January 10, 1941, von Werra was sent to Canada on the Duchess of York, along with 1,010 other captured German flyers and submariners. The ship docked at Halifax, Nova Scotia on January 23, 1941 and von Werra was loaded onto a prison train destined for Neys Camp 100, Thunder Bay, Ontario. Near Smiths Falls, Ontario, fifty miles from the U.S. border near Ogdensburg, where von Werra made his final escape.

The Escaped Nazi

“The window is frozen shut. I’ll need some help thawing it to get it opened,” von Werra said to fellow prisoner Walter Manhardt.

As the prison train made its way from Montreal to Thunder Bay, von Werra knew his best chance would be somewhere near Ottawa—and near the U.S. border at Ogdensburg. He had been to North America years earlier as a merchant seaman and his photographic memory for geography proved invaluable.

The train slowed for its approach into the station. von Werra lowered the only ice-free window and dove head first out the window as Manhardt held a blanket up to shield him. He landed in waist-deep snow, uninjured, and watched the train move off into the distance.

He walked towards the lights of a town and got his bearings.

That night, the escaped Nazi prisoner stayed in a fine hotel. Speaking in French, he asked a policeman for directions to Ottawa. von Werra made his way over the bridge, walking right past Parliament and the capital of an enemy state. Later, von Werra would be asked if he saw any soldiers or policemen. “Lots of the them! Fine looking men at that!” the Nazi aviator would exclaim.

“Bonjour,” von Werra said to the service station attendant in impeccable French. “I’d like to purchase a map of the area.” von Werra handed the attendant a few coins and studied the map. Just as he thought, he was only 90 kilometers from Johnstown, Ontario and just across the St. Lawrence River was Ogdensburg, in the United States.

Germany had been at war with Canada since September 1939. But, in January 1941, the United States was still another eleven months from joining in the hostilities. He knew the Americans would not hold him as a prisoner of war and he’d be able to return to the fight back home.

von Werra began walking the dark road east. “Bonjour,” von Werra called to a man with a sled.

“Uh, hello,” the man replied.

von Werra now had to speak in English, which was just as good as his French. “I’m new in the area and looking for employment in Prescott, could you assist me in getting there?” von Werra asked.

“I can pull you on my sled for a few miles, but that is all,” the man replied.

von Werra was getting closer to his destination and when he neared the road that led back to Montreal just on the western side of the St. Lawrence River, he knew he was close. It was getting light and he decided to take refuge in a boathouse near the river until nightfall to avoid detection.

He could see that the river was frozen and just over on the other side he could see the lights of what must be Ogdensburg.

As evening fell, he began walking towards freedom. The ice was thick and he was able to make it quite a distance, but then open, free-flowing water appeared. von Werra backtracked to the boathouse. There were several rowboats, but no oars. He would have to paddle the boat with his hands if he was to escape. von Werra pulled the boat into the frigid St. Lawrence and plunged his hands into the icy water and began to paddle.

With his hands and ears stinging form frostbite, von Werra pulled himself onto shore near a large building. There was a car nearby and he studied the license plate. 7P55-02. “Hmm.” At the bottom of the orange plate in black letters: NY 41. “Ah, this must be New York!”

von Werra began walking in the direction of the lights of the city. Ogdensburg, then New York City and then back to Germany. He only walked a short distance, when a car approached him. The driver lowered the window and looked at the half-frozen man wandering around the grounds of the State Hospital in sub-zero weather.

“Are you lost, sir? May I offer you a ride?” Allan Crites, owner of Crites Service Station on Isabella Street asked von Werra.

“Yes,” he replied in his perfect English, but with just a slight inflection. “I am new in Ogdensburg and would like to find a hotel.”

“Get in and I’ll take you into town,” Crites suggested.

“Uhhh, I shall just ride along on your running boards,” von Werra replied.

Crites could not quite make out what was with this man. He had some kind of accent, but not Canadian. After driving around town, offering von Werra suggestions, von Werra thanked Crites and jumped off the car at the corner of Paterson and Ford Streets. “Thank you, sir, I shall go from here,” von Werra said crisply to Crites.

“Sergeant O’Leary?” Crites addressed the desk sergeant at Ogdensburg Police Station.

“Mr. Crites? Trouble at the service station?”

“Uh, no, but sometng odd. I was returning to town and as I passed the State Hospital, I noticed a strange man, half frozen wandering the grounds. He had an odd accent—not Canadian. I offered him a ride to find a hotel, but we just drove around Ogdensburg with him riding on the running boards until he suddenly decided to leave me at Ford and Paterson. I think he could be a mental patient or even an escaped convict.”

“Thank you, Mr. Crites; I’ll check it out.” Sergeant O’Leary replied.

Ogdensburg Police Officers Joseph Richer and James Delduchetto approached the stranger on Ford Street.

“Where are you from, buddy,?” Officer Richer asked von Werra.

“Canada!” von Werra replied.

“Okay, come along with me,” Richer commanded.

“I shall gladly accompany you, gentlemen,” von Werra said gleefully, knowing that his arrest in America would mean a swift return to Germany.

Once inside the police car, von Werra addressed the officers: “I might as well tell you, because you will find out anyway and it does not matter now—I am a German aviator and escaped from a Canadian prison train. I am Luftwaffe Oberleutnant Baron Franz Xaver von Werra!”

“Another loony,” Delduchetto mumbled to Richer.

Saturday morning, von Werra was taken to Ogdensburg City Hall on Washington Street, not far from where he was arrested. The charges of vagrancy were quickly dropped. von Werra asked Police Chief Herbert Meyers and Immigration Chief David Benjamin to get word to the German Consul in New York City.

“We will contact them as requested,” Chief Meyers replied.

von Werra enjoyed a warm meal cooked to perfection by City Hall custodian Roy Bell and was attended to by Dr. Donald Tulloch.

“Your hands are swollen and your ears are frost-bitten. I’ll wrap them in bandages for you, but I think you will recover in short order,” Dr. Tulloch informed von Werra.

Charles Cantwell, managing editor of the Ogdensburg Journal asked von Werra for a photo.

“Certainly, sir. Officer Richer, would you join me in the photograph, please?”

This image requires alt text, but the alt text is currently blank. Either add alt text or mark the image as decorative. Ogdensburg Journal. January 25, 1941

Cantwell aimed his camera and the flash exploded in a bright light. A smiling von Werra, ears bandaged, and a surprised Officer Richer, would appear on page eight of the January 25, 1941 edition of the Ogdensburg Journal into perpetuity.

“I would like to have an attorney if it seems necessary,” von Werra addressed Immigration Commissioner John Barr.

“I have one in mind who would be good—but he is a Jew,” Barr replied eyes downcast.

“That is impossible!” von Werra exploded.

James Davies, a local attorney was present and was retained as counsel for von Werra, instead.

“Bond is set at $5,000 and we have contacted the German Consul in New York City, who has promised to post it for you.”

Cantwell asked the young aviator to tell his story for the Journal.

von Werra was happy to regale Cantwell with tales of his exploits in Europe and predictions for Germany’s conquest of France, England, and more.

“England is our main objective. All other campaigns are just preparatory,” von Werra explained. The destruction of England will come soon, probably by March of this year, but certainly by September the latest.”

von Werra’s confidence was so overwhelming that Cantwell felt that he may just be right. America is not part of this fight, but if England falls as France has, would not America be next?

Extradition hearings between Canada and the United States continued for months. During that time, von Werra was transferred to the care of the German Vice Consul in New York City, where he was treated like a celebrity by American Nazi sympathizers and had an opportunity take in the sights of the city. Discussions dragged on, but von Werra had already been secreted away back to Berlin by way of Mexico and South America by the German Vice Consul.

He would rejoin the fight, having won high praise from Adolph Hitler himself. But, his fame would not last long. In October 1941, he would marry his sweetheart and take off for a mission over Holland. His Messerschmidt Bf 109 E-4 would encounter engine trouble and von Werra would be lost to the sea forever, hailed as “lost in action.”


January 25, 2018—Claxton-Hepburn Hospital, Ogdensburg, New York.

The old man was surrounded by friends and family as he lie drawing his last breath in the hospital bed.

“103 years old. Quite a life.”

“Great-grandfather was an aviator for the Allies during Word War Two. He was captured and escaped several times, once—mistaken for a Nazi—from a prison camp right in Canada!”

“They say he shot down five Nazi planes in one battle, before going down himself.”

“He was certainly a war hero and then came to America, a country that welcomed him with open arms.”

“Don’t believe everything you read in the newspapers,” the reporter’s grandson muttered from the corner of the room.

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Social Media Analytics of My Articles on Opensource.com

I have been writing for Opensource.com since August 1, 2016—one year ago today. I created a table (in LibreOffice) of my social media analytics and the results are below.

My first article, on Open Source Graphic Design was, by far, the most popular (it was even a Top Ten!). Branding, video and pets trailed way behind, and Open Source Death took a holiday.

My article on Open Source Star Trek was most popular on Reddit and tied with Open Source Pets on LinkedIn.

Facebook was the the most popular social media channel and Reddit the least. Twitter numbers do not appear, but it could be a result of the order of icons. The share buttons descend from Twitter, to Facebook, to LinkedIn, to Reddit and then Google+ for anyone who uses that.

Open Source Novel Writing (Bibisco) scored low, but had unusually high Likes.

My conclusion is that tech articles do best on tech sites (duh!) and that Facebook still seems to be the favorite social media channel (without knowing the Twitter numbers).

These articles are linked here.

Date Article Facebook LinkedIn Reddit Likes Comments
08/01/16 Expensive tools aren’t the only options for graphic design (and never were) 2687 407 5 166 52
09/20/16 Star Trek: Inspiring people and their tech since 1964 85 44 70 76 3
09/30/16 Tools for writing the next bestseller 73 22 2 95 0
12/28/16 Best of Opensource.com: Art and design 50 7 0 71 1
02/02/17 A look at 6 iconic open source brands 177 18 7 81 4
02/10/17 Lessons from a brief career in open source 64 41 4 85 6
02/14/17 Unleashed: open source tech for pets and animals 126 44 8 36 0
03/14/17 Open source in death and beyond 50 20 0 23 0
03/31/17 2 open source Adobe InDesign scripts 24 17 0 38 0
05/30/17 Tinkering with OpenShot for video editing 106 8 0 29 0
07/25/17 A left-handed software user’s plea 78 7 4 20 19
 1 Year  Totals 3520 162 120 920 85
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Word for Mac Loses Hyperlinks in PDF

Have you ever saved a PDF from Microsoft Word for Mac and found that your hyperlinks were no longer linked?

Here’s what happened to me and how I solved the problem.

I was working on a Microsoft Word document on a Mac using Word for Mac version 15.32.

The document contained several hyperlinks. Some were created automatically by the URL being in the text and others I created using the hyperlink command (command-K).

I exported the document as a PDF and checked the links. The automatically created links worked fine. The links I created did not, even though they were created correctly.

I read some blogs to find a solution and several suggested the “Best for electronic distribution…” selection on the PDF export.

That actually worked, but ….

The text was very fine and the images were low-res. (see images for comparison)


PDF saved for electronic distribution

PDF saved for print distribution

Open Source to the Rescue!

I saved the document as an .odt file and then opened it in the open source editor, LibreOffice. I exported the PDF from there and…

it all worked!

Save file to open in LibreOffice

However, since it was saved into a different program it did re-flow the text. So, the best solution is to NOT use Microsoft Word on the Mac, but use LibreOffice instead, from the beginning.

All will be well then.

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TV Commercials I Created

I was the associate producer of a 30-minute local feature TV program in Tallahassee, Florida, called 1800 Seconds.

I wrote, edited and even starred in several segments, including playing the part of “The Guy Who Drinks Too Much Coffee.” This was a segment on caffeine addiction.

I also helped create some TV commercials for the Tallahassee market. Here are three of them I have posted on YouTube. (These were converted from old 3/4″ videotape to DVD.)

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The Future of Printing

Rush-In to New New York’s Information Access Center

It’s 2027, and Quick Printing is celebrating its 50th anniversary. What’s the typical printshop doing?

Note: I was the art director, production manager, editor, writer, coffee-maker for Coast Publishing for more than ten years. We produced several magazines, but Quick Printing was the flagship title. I wrote this article early in my career, in 1987, and predicted what would become of the quick printing industry 50 years hence — in 2027. How much did I get right? Well, not a whole lot really. But, shortly after the publication printed, we received a letter from Kinko’s founder, Ray Orfalea, who requested several copies for his staff. I had the pleasure of interviewing Mr. Orfalea via video-conferencing in 1995. The future was fun back then!

Opening Page of Article in Quick Printing Magazine, October 1987

My father opened Rush In Printing in 1987. At that time it was called “quick printing,” Adam de la Monde says, “I started working in the shop wen I was 10 years old — back in ’97. I’ve been with it for 30 years now. “Rush-In Printing is an Information Access Center success story, a company that has changed with the times since its founding in 1987.

Rush-In opened its first shop in Lakewood, Colorado, a fast-growing Denver suburb. Oscar de la Monde, a 30-year-old pressman from Denver, owned the shop, and his wife just gave birth to their son, Adam. Tired of working in downtown Denver, fighting the traffic, and inhaling the infamous “brown cloud,” Oscar borrowed $25,000 to get through the first year in business and moved west, to Lakewood.

As a typical “yuppie” (in the jargon of those times), Oscar fulfilled his dreams of owning his own business. Lakewood, with a population of 112,000, proved fertile ground for the new enterprise. Rush-In Printing operated out of a storefront in the Villa Italia Center, a popular Lakewood mall. Customers waiting for orders browsed the mall until their job was finished. In short, Rush-In operated as a typical copy center in those days.

Memory management

In the front was a Xerox 9400, a self-sever copier (with an “out-of-order” sign on it), a coffee pot, and smiling receptionist — Oscar’s wife, Cora In the back, were the mainstays of the old-fashioned printshop — an A.B.Dick 360, an Itek platemaker, a VGC Pos One Daylight Camera, an Apple Macintosh, and an assortment of bindery equipment. Always on the front counter was a copy of Quick Printing magazine, then only a monthly.

Adam began working in his father’s shop early. By working in every possible facet of the business, he became a talented craftsman and an astute businessman. Information creation and retrieval became Adam’s specialties. Working with computers all his life, he became quite knowledgeable in the field of word processing and “memory management.” This knowledge was valuable to his father, who didn’t have the luxury of working with computers until he was an adult.

In 2010, Oscar de la Monde retired and Adam took over the business, at 23. “Although I was only 23, working in the shop all my life had given me the experience of a 50-year-old,” Adam says. “and, always, my father owned a copyshop, so I have toner in my blood.”

When relations between the U.S. and the Soviet Union improved, and each country established a reciprocal city in each other’s country, de la Monde saw a potential market. He wasn’t interested in Gorbacheville, because who in their right mind would want to live outside of Trenton, New Jersey? However, New New York, located on the outskirts of Moscow, intrigued him. When President Amy Carter invited business to set up in New New York in 2012, de la Monde opened his Rush-In Information Access Center in a freshly painted dacha on Baryishnikov Prospekt.

Service economy

Isaw this as a way of tapping the foreign market,” says de la Monde, “especially the Russians, who, as you know, are still a ways behind the times in information access.” He adds that Rush-In has “installed a Weidner translation program to convert from English to Cyrillic. I still operate the shop in Colorado, and have to translate a lot of this stuff.”

de la Monde’s New New York shop specializes in service, as you might expect from a United States businessman. “The economy in the U.S. is based on service,” Adam says, “we provide better service than any other nation in the world. The manufacturing giants of the Third World require a lot of printing and information access to drive their economies, and we’re there to meet that need. The best thing is our location, in an environment closely associated with the Third World — New New York.

One problem that has endured since his father’s days in the shop is finding quality workers at an affordable price. “I can’t afford the pay scale back home,” de la Monde says, “I can only afford to pay my Colorado manager about a quarter-million a year.” It’s not that there aren’t enough workers available, but a lot of American workers have moved to the Third World countries. “I have only one human working in the Colorado center now,” de la Monde says, “I fill in with a few robots, and occasionally some temp robots. I’ve got my average sales per employee up to $792,812.”

That’s not bad for an average information access center like Rush-In IAC. The shop pulls in about $8.7 million a year, and de la Monde takes roughly $440,000 of that back to his apartment each year.

To service the Russian and Third World clientele, de la Monde operates an ECRM Autokon color scanning system and several Xerox color laser printers in the New New York center. He owns a satellite on which he relays work between Colorado and New New York. He also rents air time to certain clients.

Door to door

De la Monde uses regular embassy transport service to deliver his work to his Third World accounts. “I jump on a Concorde once a month to visit clients in Africa and Asia. While I’m there I do a little selling. Would you believe I actually go door-to-door? Some things will never change.

Of course, Rush-In’s market in Colorado is a bit different than that in Russia. The quick printshop Adam’s father opened in the late 20th century has evolved into a personalized information creation/retrieval service. Most of Rush-In’s customers use their own word processors and laser printers to produce the kind of jobs quick printers did 50 years ago, although de la Monde says he still has a demand for the the high quality of an A.B.Dick 360.

“People come to use when they want the look and feel of real paper,” de la Monde says. “Otherwise, they have to use synthetics like Kimdura, or pay the high price of real paper.” Rush-In is fortunate to have an EPA license to supply paper and paper-related products.

“Back in the ’90s, when they relaxed the pollution control laws, my dad thought about getting out of the business, “de la Monde says. “He told me he’d read in Quick Printing that the pollution would destroy the ozone layer and ten the forests would be stripped,” Fortunately, for Rush-In, when the EPA started rationing paper and licensing paper-related products retailers, Oscar de la Monde was an early applicant for al license. “I don’t think information access centers can survive without some type of licensing deal — either holding their own or leasing one from a supplier,” says de la Monde.

One of the most profitable niches Rush-In has found is one most IACs enjoy — book publishing. Rush-In has gone from doing shorter-runs of 10,000 or so early in the century to producing a single copy for customers.

“Back in the 1980s, the Libraries of MIT began scanning, encoding, and storing books on disk,” de la Monde remembers, “The Ohio College Library Center catalogued and offered books on disk to 600 subscribers in 1982. IBM’s Vice President and Chief Scientist said then that all the books in the Library of Congress would fit into 20 IBM 3850s.

“Now, almost every book is available through the Library of Congress. Customers come into the Lakewood shop, as though they were coming into a library. Apparently, they prefer books printed on real paper, as opposed to what they’re using in their at-home laser printers. They tell us what book they want, and the Library of Congress communicates the information via my own satellite, and the book gets printed on our Xerox 9700,” de la Monde says. “The royalties are protected by the Adonis Project, the American Association of Publishers established in the 1980s.”

Really rolling

Rush-In offers other products as well. Increasingly popular is toilet paper printing. Advertising specialties have turned the paper shortage into an opportunity, and personalize toilet paper has become a popular item for the Lakewood store. Rush-In has its own TP laser printer. “This is one item that is really rolling, although it did take people a few years to get used to the idea,” says de la Monde. “It’s a way of keeping your message out there, and one on a one-to-one basis, too. I have a few of my own rolls installed at Mile High Stadium during some Broncos games,” de la Monde explains.

No IAC would be complete without offering some kind of hologram printing service. National Geographic really brought holograms to the nation’s attention when it became the first magazine to feature a hologram on its cover in 1985. Others followed, including Quick Printing’s sister publication, Publishing Trade, in 1986.

“It’s sort of like thermography was in the 90s,” Adam says, “Radio stations like to order holographic bumper stickers with UPCs encoded in them, so they can track their listeners and contest winners from either helicopters or satellites. Holographic business cares are very popular, especially the ones that change scenes as look at different angles. We’re going to be offering “Scratch-And-Listen” holograms soon, too.”

de la Monde is a firm believer in associations, and belongs to the International Association of Electronic Quick Printers and Information Access Centers, which is holding its 51st convention and Information Access Expo 2027 at the McCormick Place Space Station in August. “I understand Multigraphics is featuring frictionless offset presses at McCormick,” de la Monde says.

“I read in Quick Printing,” he adds, noting that he is an avid reader, “It arrives every Monday, and I read it cover to cover.” Of course, he prefers the version that’s printed on real paper. QP’s Art Director, Douglas J. Macharyas, son of Art Director Emeritus, Jeff Macharyas, says that the full holographic version of QP will be available in 2028.

Back in the 20th century, Jeff Macharyas was Art Director of Quick Printing magazine.

Kinko’s Article Reprint Request

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