Transport of concentration camp inmates to Tyrol

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The transport of prominent inmates of German concentration camps to the Tyrol occurred in late April 1945 during the final weeks of the Second World War in Europe. Large numbers of high-profile prisoners were moved to the so-called Alpine Fortress – in the Operational Zone of the Alpine Foothills – on the orders of the Nazi authorities. The transport's SS guards had orders to kill everyone if liberation by the advancing Western Allies became imminent. However, in the South Tyrol region, regular German troops took the inmates into protective custody. The entire group was eventually liberated by advance units from the US Seventh Army.[1]

Colonel Bogislaw von Bonin (center) with fellow hostage Sigismund Payne Best (dark suit right) shortly after liberation on 5 May 1945.

Transfer and liberation[edit]

The hostages were liberated from the Hotel Pragser Wildsee on the shores of Pragser Wildsee in South Tyrol on 5 May 1945.

On 17, 24 and 26 April 1945, 141 prisoners from Dachau Concentration Camp were transferred to “Arbeitserziehungslager Reichenau” (formerly a Labour Education Camp for undesirables), Innsbruck, Austria. However, the camp was not prepared to keep the prisoners. Instead the prisoners were sent to a hotel near Niederdorf/Hochpustertal 70 km north-east of Bozen, Italy, where they arrived on 28 April.

The transport, which was composed of trucks and old buses, was guarded by several dozen troops from the SS and SD. On board were the camp's most important and prominent prisoners and family members of the 20 July plotters. The officers in charge, Obersturmführer Edgar Stiller and Untersturmführer Bader, had orders to kill all the prisoners if in any fear of capture.

Contrary to expectations, the Pragser Wildsee Hotel was unavailable as it was being used by three German Wehrmacht generals. A delegation from the prisoners' committee — that included Colonel Bogislaw von Bonin who had been imprisoned for allowing a retreat on the Eastern Front — made contact with the Wehrmacht HQ in Bozen and made known the identity of the high-status prisoners and the fear that they were to be executed before liberation by US troops.

A message was sent to Wehrmacht troops at Sexten 17 km east of Niederdorf commanded by Captain Wichard von Alvensleben, who decided to come and protect the prisoners with his soldiers.

On 30 April against the background of advancing US troops and Alvensleben’s unit, which had now surrounded the village, the SS guards decided to escape.

The freed prisoners were then accommodated at the Pragser Wildsee Hotel until advance units from the 42nd Infantry Division and the 45th Infantry Division reached Niederdorf on 5 May 1945.

List of the prisoners[edit]

(by country)[2][3]

Austria (5)
  • Konrad Praxmarer, author
  • Richard Schmitz, former mayor of Vienna
  • Kurt Schuschnigg, former Austrian chancellor
  • Vera Schuschnigg, wife of Kurt Schuschnigg, and their daughter Maria Dolores Elisabeth both joined the transport voluntarily and were not officially prisoners.[2][4]
Czech Republic (2)
Denmark (6)
  • Hans Frederik Hansen, Danish SOE-agent "Frederiksen"[5]
  • Adolf Theodor Larsen, Danish SOE-agent "Andy"[6]
  • Jørgen Lønborg Friis Mogensen, Vice Consul
  • Hans Lunding, Capt., Chief of Danish Intelligence
  • Max J. Mikkelsen, Merchant Marine Capt
  • Knud E. Pedersen, Merchant Marine Capt.
France (6)
Germany (29)
Greece (7)
Hungary (10)
Italy (5)
Latvia (1)
Netherlands (1)
  • Johannes J. C. van Dijk, Defence Minister
Norway (1)
  • Arne Dæhli, Navy Capt.[7]
Poland (3)
  • Jan Izycki, British RAF Pilot Officer
  • Stanislaw Jensen, British RAF Pilot Officer
  • Count Aleksander Zamoyski, major
Slovakia (2)
Soviet Union (6)
  • Ivan Georgievich Bessonov, General
  • Victor Brodnikov, Lt. Colonel
  • Fyodor Ceredilin, Soldier
  • Vassily Vassilyevich Kokorin, Lt.
  • Pyotr Privalov, Major General
  • Nikolay Rutschenko, Lt.
Sweden (1)
  • Carl S. Edquist, Director
United Kingdom (14)
Yugoslavia (3)
  • Hinko Dragić-Hauer, Lt. Colonel[8]
  • Novak D. Popovic, Head of the post administration
  • Dimitrije Tomalevsky, journalist
The Kin Prisoners (37)
  • Fey von Hassell Pirzio Biroli (de), daughter of Ulrich von Hassell
  • Annelise Gisevius, sister of Hans-Bernd Gisevius
  • Anneliese Goerdeler wife of Carl Goerdeler
  • Benigna Goerdeler, daughter of Goerdeler
  • Gustav Goerdeler, brother of Goerdeler
  • Marianne Goerdeler, daughter of Anneliese and Carl Goerdeler
  • Irma Goerdeler wife of Ulrich Goerdeler, daughter in law of Anneliese and Carl Goerdeler
  • Jutta Goerdeler, cousin of Benigna Goerdeler
  • Reinhard Goerdeler, son of Anneliese and Carl Goerdeler (not at the Pragser Wildsee Hotel)
  • Ulrich Goerdeler, son of Anneliese and Carl Goerdeler
  • Käte Gudzent
  • Franz von Hammerstein, son of Maria and Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord; (not at the Pragser Wildsee Hotel)
  • Hildur von Hammerstein, daughter of Maria and Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord.
  • Maria von Hammerstein-Equord wife of Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord
  • Anna-Luise von Hofacker, daughter of Cäsar von Hofacker
  • Eberhard von Hofacker, son of Cäsar von Hofacker
  • Ilse Lotte von Hofacker wife of Cäsar von Hofacker
  • Peter A. Jehle, (not at the Pragser Wildsee Hotel)
  • Elisabeth Kaiser, daughter of Therese Kaiser
  • Therese Kaiser
  • Arthur Kuhn, lawyer
  • Anni von Lerchenfeld, mother in law of Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg; died in the SS camp in Matzkau
  • Lini Lindemann wife of General Fritz Lindemann
  • Josef Mohr, brother of Therese Kaiser
  • Käthe Mohr wife of Josef Mohr
  • Gisela Gräfin von Plettenberg-Lenhausen, daughter of Walther Graf von Plettenberg-Lenhausen
  • Walther Graf von Plettenberg-Lenhausen, merchant
  • Dietrich Schatz, major, (not at the Pragser Wildsee Hotel)
  • Alexander Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, brother of Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg.
  • Alexandra Schenk Gräfin von Stauffenberg, daughter of Markwart Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg
  • Clemens jr. Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, son of Markwart Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg
  • Elisabeth Schenk Gräfin von Stauffenberg, wife of Clemens Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg
  • Inèz Schenk Gräfin von Stauffenberg, daughter of Markwart Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg
  • Maria Schenk Gräfin von Stauffenberg wife of Berthold Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg
  • Marie-Gabriele Schenk Gräfin von Stauffenberg, daughter of Elisabeth Schenk Gräfin von Stauffenberg and Clemens Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg
  • Markwart Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg (senior), Colonel
  • Markwart Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg (junior), son of Elisabeth Schenk Gräfin von Stauffenberg and Clemens sen. Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, (not at the Pragser Wildsee Hotel)
  • Otto Philipp Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, son of Elisabeth Schenk Gräfin von Stauffenberg and Clemens sen. Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg
  • Hans-Dietrich Schröder, son of Ingeborg Schröder.
  • Harring Schröder, son of Ingeborg Schröder
  • Ingeborg Schröder
  • Sybille-Maria Schröder, daughter of Ingeborg Schröder
  • Isa Vermehren, comedian, sister of Erich Vermehren



  1. ^ "Defeat And Deliverance 1945 (newsreel containing the liberation)". British Pathé News. Retrieved 9 May 2015. 
  2. ^ a b Peter Koblank: Die Befreiung der Sonder- und Sippenhäftlinge in Südtirol, Online-Edition Mythos Elser 2006 (in German)
  3. ^ 'Endgame 1945 The Missing Final Chapter of World War II'
  4. ^ Austrian Requiem
  5. ^ Niels-Birger Danielsen. "Modstand Frihedskampens Rødder 1933–1942" (in Danish). Politikens Forlag. ISBN 9788740015447. Retrieved 14 February 2016. 
  6. ^ Thorkild Nielsen, Egon Jensen (2013). "Optrevlingen af Aarsgruppen februar 1944" (PDF) (in Danish). Vesthimmerlands Museum. p. 5. Retrieved 14 February 2016. 
  7. ^ Svenson, Åke; Vandberg, Bent (1945). De hvite bussene (in Norwegian). Oslo: Gyldendal. pp. 74–76. 
  8. ^ Shores, Christopher F., et al. Air War for Yugoslavia, Greece, and Crete, 1940-41. Grub Street, 1999.