Oflag IX-A/H

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Oflag IX-A
Spangenberg, Hesse
Schloss Spangenberg
Schloss Spangenberg
Oflag IX-A is located in Germany
Oflag IX-A
Oflag IX-A
Coordinates51°7′9.86″N 9°39′43.51″E / 51.1194056°N 9.6620861°E / 51.1194056; 9.6620861
TypePrisoner-of-war camp
Site information
Controlled by Nazi Germany
Site history
In use1939–1945
Garrison information
OccupantsFrench and British officers

Oflag IX-A was a World War II German prisoner-of-war camp located in Spangenberg Castle in the small town of Spangenberg in northeastern Hesse, Germany.

Camp history[edit]

The camp was opened in October 1939 as Oflag IX-A[1] to house POWs from the British Royal Air Force and the French Armée de l'Air.[2] The camp was renamed Oflag IX-A/H (Hauptlager, "Main camp") in June 1940,[1] after Oflag IX-C at Rotenburg an der Fulda became a sub-camp (Zweiglager) designated Oflag IX-A/Z.[3]

The first person to escape from the camp was Flight Lieutenant Howard Wardle in August 1940, but he was recaptured and sent to Oflag IV-C at Colditz Castle.[4]

On the 21 October 1940 the POW Eric Foster was one of twenty-six selected to move to Spangenberg from Dulag Luft.[5] In his autobiography Foster stated "Dulag Luft had been described as the best camp in Germany... Spangenberg was described as the end of hope."[6] Foster explained though the Schloss, upon arrival, looked like a fairy castle from a Hans Christian Andersen story,[7] he would soon learn to hate the castle as a POW camp.[7] He noted the castle had foul smelling hogs in the moat. The manner of the guards upon arrival was rough and very unpleasant when compared to other camps[8] and the discipline was unusual and severe.[8] Foster described the sleeping quarters as a former Banqueting Hall used as a dormitory. This dormitory was at the top of a spiral staircase and this room had very bad lighting. The lighting in the room came from four fifteen watt bulbs.[9] The room consisted of many double bunk beds.[9] The camp was closed in February 1941 but reopened in July when it was used for housing RAF and British Army officers.[2] Many of the prisoners were temporarily transported to Torun, Poland in this time frame.[10]

On 3 September 1941 three RAF officers, Dominic Bruce, Peter Tunstall and Eustace Newborn, escaped disguised as members of a civilian Swiss Red Cross Commission. They passed through the gate and then, wearing faked Luftwaffe uniforms, headed to an airfield near Kassel intending to steal a Ju 52, which Newborn had flown before the war, and fly home. Unfortunately, they were detected before they could start the plane, so they decided to find another less well guarded aerodrome. After ten days, they were challenged by a former Spangenberg guard and arrested.

The Germans marched the prisoners east on March 29, 1945, and some 25 escaped as they left the castle (see Eric Foster's autobiography). The Americans liberated the camp's inmates at Lengefeld unterm Stein on 4 April.[11] Spangenberg Castle was destroyed by American bombs after Oflag IX A/H had left.[2]

Notable prisoners[edit]

The following prisoners are known to have been held at the camp:;[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Mattiello (1986), p.206
  2. ^ a b c WO208/3293 The National Archives Official Camp History O9A/H & O9A/Z
  3. ^ Mattiello (1986), p.207
  4. ^ Reid (1952), p.65
  5. ^ Foster (1992), pp. 70–71.
  6. ^ Foster (1992), p. 71.
  7. ^ a b Foster (1992), p. 73.
  8. ^ a b Foster (1992), p. 77.
  9. ^ a b Foster (1992), p. 78.
  10. ^ Foster (1992), pp. 87–89.
  11. ^ "The History Press | the March East 1945".
  12. ^ Rollings (2003), Appendix II
  13. ^ Robin Mackie (2004). "Shaw, Brian Duncan (1898-1999)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/73575. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  • Foster, Eric (1 February 1992). Life Hangs by a Silken Thread: An Autobiography by Squadron Leader. England: Astia Publishing. ISBN 978-0951898307.
  • Mansel, John. "The Mansel Diaries" (1977). Privately printed. ISBN 0950391115
  • Mattiello, G.; Vogt, Wolfgang (1986). Deutsche Kriegsgefangenen-und Internierten einrichtungen 1939–1945 [German prisoners of war and internee facilities 1939-1945] (in German). Koblenz: Selbstverlag.
  • Reid, P.R. (1952). The Colditz Story. Hodder & Stoughton.
  • Rollings, Charles (2003). Wire and Walls : RAF prisoners of war in Itzehoe, Spangenberg and Thorn 1939-42. Hersham, Surrey: Ian Allan Publishing. ISBN 0-7110-2991-1.