Prisoner of the Swiss

A World War II Airman's Story

Daniel Culler

The story of US airman Dan Culler who was imprisoned and tortured in a Swiss camp during WWII.
Date Published :
October 2017
Publisher :
Editor :
Rob Morris
Illustration :
16 pages of b/w photos
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Hardback
ISBN : 9781612005546
Pages : 144
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock
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During World War II, 1,517 members of US aircrews were forced to seek asylum in Switzerland. Most neutral countries found reason to release US airmen from internment, but Switzerland took its obligations under the Hague Convention more seriously than most. The airmen were often incarcerated in local jails, and later transferred to prison camps. The worst of these camps was Wauwilermoos, where at least 161 U.S. airmen were sent for the honorable offense of escaping.

To this hellhole came Dan Culler, the author of this incredible account of suffering and survival. Not only did the prisoners sleep on lice-infested straw, were malnourished and had virtually no hygiene facilities or access to medical care but worse, the commandant of Wauwilermoos was a diehard Swiss Nazi. He allowed the mainly criminal occupants of the camp to torture and rape Dan Culler with impunity. After many months of such treatment, starving and ravaged by disease, he was finally aided by a British officer.

Betrayal dominated his cruel fate - by the American authorities, by the Swiss, and in a last twist in a second planned escape that turned out to be a trap. But Dan Culler’s courage and determination kept him alive. Finally making it back home, he found he had been abandoned again. Political expediency meant there was no such place as Wauwilermoos. He has never been there, so he has never been a POW and didn't qualify for any POW benefits or medical or mental treatment for his many physical and emotional wounds. His struggle to make his peace with his past forms the final part of the story.

Rob Morris’s introduction and notes provide historical background and context, including recent efforts to recognize the suffering of those incarcerated in Switzerland and afford them full POW status.

About The Author

Dan Culler was a WWII veteran who wrote The Black Hole of Wauwilermoos about his experiences as a POW in a Swiss internment camp during the war. This was adapted as Prisoner of the Swiss by Rob Morris, with his co-operation. He passed away in 2016.

Rob Morris is a military historian and author of multiple titles including Untold Valor: Forgotten Stories of American Bomber Crewmen over Europe in World War II and Wild Blue Yonder and Beyond (Potomac).


Foreword: The Historical and Legal Origins id Swiss Neutrality
Final Notes on Swiss Neutrality
Editor's Note to the 2017 Revised Edition

Part I: The Black Hole of Wauwilermoos
1. Beginnings
2, Combat
3. Missions
4. Shot Down and Internment Camp
5. Interned at Adelboden
6. The First Escape
7. Entering the Gates of Hell
8. The Depths of Despair
9. Hospital
10. The Second Escape
11. Out of the Depths
12. The Return to England
13. Interrogation in London
14. Home Again
15. Endings
16. The Black Hole of Wauwilermoos Returns
17. Appendix to the Original 1995 Edition of "The Black Hole of Wauwilermoos"

Part II: Aftermath
18. Moving On
19. Andre Beguin and General Barnwell Rhett Legge
20. Recognition at Last

Selected Bibliography and Sources


“You would just never believe a story like this would come out of Switzerland... Incredible.”

- Bookzone

“The book is printed to Casemate's usual high standard with relevant illustrations and runs to 120 pages.”

- Army Rumour Service

“This is an horrific story, one that explodes the myth of Switzerland being a peaceful country anxious not to become involved in local wars...Dire conditions, dreadful inhuman treatment - my view of the Swiss has nosedived as a result of reading this book!”

- Books Monthly

“...incredible account of suffering and survival.”

- Recollections of WW2

“At face value, Prisoner of the Swiss is a personal story that, with many other personal accounts, adds to the understanding of World War II; however, it does not stop there. This book paints a multilayered picture, a coming-of-age story of a Midwestern boy from Indiana transformed into a combat hardened B-24 Liberator flight engineer who conducted twenty-five combat missions in the European theater of operations… It will invite readers to learn more about the service members interned or captured in World War II in general and the operations conducted in the periphery that do not typically get the attention the larger operations receive, and it will intrigue those interested in the individual stories of World War II POWs.”

- Military Review

"Morris and Mears offer a semblance of justice to Culler where others failed. Where Morris gives life to Culler’s voice, Mears gave him public acknowledgement as he diligently pursued the awarding in April 2014 of the U.S. Prisoner of War Medal to 143 airmen interned during World War II in Wauwilermoos. Morris and Mears not only heighten our perception of an understudied realm of World War II captivity, but give a U.S. airman, betrayed by the very country he swore to defend, a means to heal."

- Capt. Devon Collins, ARMY

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