|Stalag VIII-B / Stalag 344 / Stalag Luft VIII-B|
|Controlled by||Nazi Germany|
Stalag VIII-B Lamsdorf was a German Army prisoner of war camp, later renumbered Stalag-344, located near the small town of Lamsdorf (now called Łambinowice) in Silesia. The camp initially occupied barracks built to house British and French prisoners in World War I. At this same location there had been a prisoner camp during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71.
It was opened in 1939 to house Polish prisoners from the German September 1939 offensive. Later approximately 100,000 prisoners from Australia, Belgium, British India, British Palestine, Canada, France, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, South Africa, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, the Isle of Man, the United States and Yugoslavia passed through this camp. In 1941 a separate camp, Stalag VIII-F was set up close by to house the Soviet prisoners.
In 1943, the Lamsdorf camp was split up, and many of the prisoners (and Arbeitskommando) were transferred to two new base camps Stalag VIII-C Sagan (modern Żagań and Stalag VIII-D Teschen (modern Český Těšín). The base camp at Lamsdorf was renumbered Stalag 344.
The Soviet Army reached the camp on 17 March 1945.
Later the Lamsdorf camp was used by the Soviets to house Germans, both prisoners of war and civilians. Polish army personnel being repatriated from POW camps were also processed through Lamsdorf and sometimes held there as prisoners for several months. Some were later released, others sent to Gulags in Siberia.
Stalag Luft VIII-B
By 1943, the famous camp for Allied flight personnel in Sagan - Stalag Luft III - had become so overcrowded that about 1,000, mostly non-commissioned flight personnel, were transferred to Lamsdorf. A part of Stalag VIII-B was separated by building new barbed-wire fences, designated Stalag Luft VIII-B. Thus a camp within a camp was created. However all food was provided from kitchens operated by army personnel in the camp proper.
The hospital facilities at Stalag VIII-B were among the best in all Stalags. The so-called Lazarett was set up on a separate site with eleven concrete buildings. Six of them were self-contained wards, each with space for about 100 patients. The others served as treatment blocks with operating theaters, X-ray and laboratory facilities, as well as kitchens, a morgue, and accommodations for the medical staff.
The lazarett was headed by a German officer with the title Oberst Arzt ("Colonel Doctor"), but the staff was made up entirely of prisoners. They included general physicians and surgeons, even a neurosurgeon, psychiatrist, anesthesiologist and radiologist.
Evacuation and repatriation
In January 1945, as the Soviet armies resumed their offensive and advanced into Germany, many of the prisoners were marched westward in groups of 200 to 300 in the so-called Death March. Some died from the bitter cold and exhaustion. The lucky ones got far enough to the west to be liberated by the American army. The unlucky ones got liberated by the Soviets, who instead of turning them over quickly to the western allies, held them as virtual hostages for several more months. Many of them were finally repatriated towards the end of 1945 through the port of Odessa on the Black Sea.
There were more than 700 subsidiary Arbeitskommandos (working parties outside the main camp). In the second issue of The Clarion (the camp magazine) in February 1943, the RC Chaplain Father John Berry says that "...there are about 600 Working Parties and ..... you will be able to guess why so many of you will have not yet had a visit". Arbeitskommandos were set up to house lower ranks that were working in the coal mines, quarries, factories and on railways. Among them were:
- Schalkendorf in the Kreis (Area of) Opole
- E1 Laband
- E3 Blechammer
- E8 Krappitz, paper mill
- E17 Opole, cement factory
- E22 Gleiwitz-Ohringen
- E25 Rauschwalde, Kreis Falkenberg
- E27 coal mine
- E51 Klausberg, coal mine
- E62 Gleiwitz-Steigern
- E72 Beuthen
- E75 Knurów
- E88 Hohrnlohehutte
- E93 Sakrau, limestone quarry
- E94 Emilienhoff limestone quarry
- E110 Stauwerder
- E114 Gross Kunzendorf, stone quarry and factory
- E119 Mankendorf, saw mill
- E38 Ratibor, steel works
- E131 Tiefbau Pollok, stone quarry
- E149 Buchenlust, forestry work
- E159 Domstadtl, quarry
- E162 Oderthal
- E173 Setzdorf, quarry
- E196 Opoleonoora, cement factory
- E203 Opole, cement works
- E209 Bobrek, coal mine
- E211 Treibiz, railway
- E218 Flossingen
- E234 Tonhain
- E243 Breslau, gasworks
- E256 Zuckmantel
- E265 Grafenweiler
- E276 Ottmachau, sugar beet factory
- E283 Ratibor, sugar mill
- E303 Petersweiler [Pietrzykowice], sugar beet factory
- E324 Gross Dubrnsko
- E332 Rudgershagen
- E354 Jägerndorf, saw mill & timer goods factory
- E364 Buchelsdorf, saw mill
- E365 Gross Strelitz lime quarry
- E373 Blaschke, Czechoslovakia, sawmill
- E389 Rudgershagen
- E393 Mittel-Lazisk
- E399 Sudetenland Cardboard Factory
- E406 Seifersdorf, brickyard
- E411 Hohenzollerngrube Beuthen coal mine
- E414 Hohenbirken, saw mill
- E415 Hohenbirken, tile factory
- E419 Opole
- E446 Zuckmantel
- E456 Kalkau
- E460 building railway bridge
- E479 Tarnowitz
- E484 Neisse, labouring
- E486 Neisse,labouring
- E490 Beuthen railway building
- E494 Gleiwitz Ost
- E535 Sosnowitz West coal mine
- E538 Sosnowice mine
- E542 Fohrengrund ub Gleiwtz
- E543 Drmbrowa
- E550 Hohenbirken, tannery
- E552 Hindenberg Philipstr
- E561 Tarnowtitz, railway depot loading and unloading trains
- E562 Coal mine "Janina", near Libiaz
- E563 Bory Jelen Jaworzno
- E565 Sierza Wodna coal mine
- E571 Gruden forestry department
- E578 Peiskretscham, Kreis Gleiwitz
- E579 Niwka
- E580 Czelads
- E585 Jagerndorf, brickyard
- E586 Kazimierz
- E587 Czelads Piarski
- E593 Beuthen Schonberg
- E594 Konigshutte Ost
- E596 Jaworzno
- E603 Hindenburg
- E701 Tichau Czulow (paper factory)
- E702 Klimontow coal mine
- E706 Coal mine near Jaworzno, mostly Australians and New Zealanders
- E707 Sosnowitz
- E708 Laband
- E711A Heydebreck, chemical plant
- E714 Blechhammer, Upper Silesia
- E715 IG Farben chemical factory in Monowice. Set up in September 1943, it housed about 1200 prisoners, mostly British.
- E719 Steigern
- E724 Schwientochlowitz
- E725 Konigshutte Bismark
- E727 Mechtal Beuthen, power station
- E728 Neu Oderberg
- E732 Czciakowa
- E734 Schoppintiz
- E739 Dombrowa Grunkolonie
- E740 Kobier
- E742 Ober Lazisk
- E744 Kazimierz
- E746 Königshütte
- E748 Brorek
- E749 Peiskretscham
- E750 Kattowitz
- E753 Graumanndorf
- E754 Czelads
- E755 Wojkowitz Komorne
- E756 Radzionkau
- E757 Morenrot
- E758 Knurow
- E759 Glewitz
- E760 Bobrek
- E761 Bobrek
- E762 Bobrek
- E794 Heydebreck
- E902 coal mine
- E902 Delbruckschachte-Hindenburg coal mine
- E22050 gas works
British POWs at Auschwitz
E715 was a POW camp for British prisoners which was administered and guarded by soldiers from Wehrmacht because it was a subcamp of Stalag VIII-B camp. However, as it was attached to the Monowitz concentration camp (codenamed Buna after the synthetic rubber it made) which was one of the 28 sub-camps under the control of Auschwitz III, the SS had effective control. E715 was next to the I.G. Farben chemical plant just a few hundred meters away from the entrance to Monowitz.
The first 200 British POWs arrived at Auschwitz in September 1943 but over the winter of 1943 another 1,400 British POWs (mostly captured in North Africa) were transported to E715. Between February and March 1944, 800 were transferred to camps at Blechhammer and Heydebreck-Cosel in Germany. After that, British POWs numbers remained approximately 600 for the remainder of the war. Most prisoners were put to work in machine shops making and repairing chemical plant equipment.
British POWs regularly bore witness to the atrocities occurring at Monowitz where inmates were hanged from poles and executed by firing squad at night. Some POWs made contact with concentration camp inmates and passed on information about the war's progress that had been acquired using secret radios in the POW camp. Sergeant Charles Coward even managed to pass intelligence about the atrocities occurring at Monowitz through letters to the British War Office. This led to representatives from the Red Cross making two visits to E715 in the summer 1944.
With the start of the Soviet Vistula–Oder Offensive in January 1945, Auschwitz was evacuated by the SS. The Wehrmacht closed POW camp E715 on January 21, 1945 forcing the British POWs to undertake a forced march to Stalag VII-A at Moosburg in Germany. Three days earlier, the inmates of Monowitz had been sent on their own death march to Gleiwitz near the Czech border where they boarded trains to Buchenwald in Germany and Mauthausen in Austria. Although in comparison, the British POWs received better treatment than the concentration camp prisoners, they only received slightly more food. In April 1945, the British POWs at Auschwitz were liberated by the U.S. Army at Stalag VII A in Moosburg.
I made it a point to get one of the guards to take me to town under the pretense of buying new razor blades and stuff for our boys. For a few cigarettes he pointed out to me the various places where they had the gas chambers and the places where they took them down to be cremated. Everyone to whom I spoke gave the same story - the people in the city of Auschwitz, the SS men, concentration camp inmates, foreign workers - everyone said that thousands of people were being gassed and cremated at Auschwitz, and that the inmates who worked with us and who were unable to continue working because of their physical condition and were suddenly missing, had been sent to the gas chambers. The inmates who were selected to be gassed went through the procedure of preparing for a bath, they stripped their clothes off, and walked into the bathing room. Instead of showers, there was gas. All the camp knew it. All the civilian population knew it. I mixed with the civilian population at Auschwitz. I was at Auschwitz nearly every day...Nobody could live in Auschwitz and work in the plant, or even come down to the plant without knowing what was common knowledge to everybody.
Even while still at Auschwitz we got radio broadcasts from the outside speaking about the gassings and burnings at Auschwitz. I recall one of these broadcasts was by Anthony Eden himself. Also, there were pamphlets dropped in Auschwitz and the surrounding territory, one of which I personally read, which related what was going on in the camp at Auschwitz. These leaflets were scattered all over the countryside and must have been dropped from planes. They were in Polish and German. Under those circumstances, nobody could be at or near Auschwitz without knowing what was going on.
- "Arbeitskommando E119, Stalag VIIIB, Mankendorf". The Wartime Memories Project. 2011. Retrieved 10 April 2012.
- "The camp for prisoners of war from Great Britain in Klimontow near Sosnowiec, Poland". klimontow.na12.pl. 28 December 2008. Retrieved 10 April 2012.
- Affidavit Copy of Document NI-11696, Prosecution Exhibit 1462, Nuremberg Trials
- New Zealand On-line history
- Photos and personal stories of British prisoners
- Camps in Silesia (in Polish)* History of the Lamsdorf camps (1870, World War I, World War II Stalag 344/VIII-B, Stalag 318/VIII-F and post-war German camp) and the Blechhammer camps (in French)
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Camp Lamsdorf.|
- "Lamsdorf: Stalag VIIIB 344 Prisoner of War Camp 1940 - 1945".
- Hallam, J.H. "POW Diary 1944, Stalag VIIIB".
- Beattie, Reg. "Captive Plans".
- Beck, George Irving. "A Prisoner of War's Diary from Stalag VIIIB — 1940-45". WW2 People's War.
- Hall, Don. "Lamsdorf Stalag XIII B". Diary of a Canadian pilot.
- Marchant, Eric. "British POW describes Arbeitskommandos E196, E702 and Saubsdorf". WW2 People's War.
- Routledge, Norman. "Detailed scrapbook from English POW held at Stalag 344 (VIIIB)". Writings, drawings, camp publications, money, forms and labels, and newspaper clippings.
- "Lamsdorf Remembered".
- "Stalag VIII-B discussion board".
- "The Central Prisoner-Of-War Museum In Łambinowice-Opole". Archived from the original on May 9, 2012.