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WW2 POW camps

#1
So I'm digging my garden,bagging the spoil prior to driving to the dump and humming the theme from The Great Escape, when I got to wondering,

Has there ever been a book or article written about POW camp life from the german point of view?
 
#3
There's Colditz - The German Story by Reinhold Eggers - who was the Security officer at Colditz.

Also there is a book/movie about the German U-boat officer (?) who escaped from a Canadian POW camp but the book title escapes me. The movie was called something like The One that Got Away.
 
#4
Both look interesting so thanks for the details but I'm really
looking towards camps in Europe for English POWs run by the Germans.
 
#6
archer said:
So I'm digging my garden,bagging the spoil prior to driving to the dump and humming the theme from The Great Escape, when I got to wondering,

Has there ever been a book or article written about POW camp life from the german point of view?
I vaguely remember reading a book by a Kraut camp commandant, but I'm Donald Ducked if I can recall either the title or the author.

I'll post the question on the Bundeswehrforum and see if the lads there can come up with anything.

MsG
 
#7
Bugsy7 said:
archer said:
So I'm digging my garden,bagging the spoil prior to driving to the dump and humming the theme from The Great Escape, when I got to wondering,

Has there ever been a book or article written about POW camp life from the german point of view?
I vaguely remember reading a book by a Kraut camp commandant, but I'm Donald Ducked if I can recall either the title or the author.

I'll post the question on the Bundeswehrforum and see if the lads there can come up with anything.

MsG
"Colditz, the German viewpoint" by Reinhold Eggers?

 
#8
I saw a tv programme once, a reconstruction/docummentary through the eyes of an SS guard at a death camp.

Told the story from his journals etc and things they did. They'd get drunk at night, horse around and live it up as much they could. Most of them considered themselfs fortunate to get such a cooshty posting.

This particular guard handled a lot of the books and money from the loot collected from the prisoners, all the money that was taken off the prisoners was bundled (mostly by him) and taken to Berlin. Some of the stuff the guards kept for themselfs, hidden away in their locker. One day the gestapo got wind of this and padalocked every guards locker to be inspected later. Since the lockers wern't attatched to the walls, this smart arrse took the back off his and removed the stuff that should be there that way. He then proceeded to kick up a fuss about his locker being padalocked, so got his inspected right away... sure enough, nothing that shouldnt be there was found.

Most notably was the fact that although they knew that such autrocities were taking palce at the camp, it didn't bother them as there wasn't much they could do - and that if they kicked up a fuss, they'd be sent somewhere a lot worse than being a guard at it.

I also remember them getting away with a lot of things. For example, it recontructed a typical night on the piss for the guards, and ended with them lying on their beds taking pop shots at the lightbulb rather than getting up to switch it off.

I found it quite interesting, wish i knew where/when i saw it
 
#9
Braveheart,
I too have memories of that programme.

As I say, what really started it was digging and disposing of all
of that earth.
"Ashley-Pitt" and his bags inside the trousers? It would take months to dispose of just the small amount I had.

I'm not in anyway belittling what the escapers did, I'm just looking to understand how they did it and for that I wondered how they completely fooled the guards.

What was the routine like for the guards, what checks were made, did any collude with the POW's.?
Lots of questions but I've never seen nor read anything from a guard of a POW camp.

Other questions?
How many foiled escapes? and how? seismic detecters buried around the camp?
Tunnels would be too deep for sniffer dogs.
Visual checks for subsidence? I have heard of trucks driving in suspect areas to collapse tunnels.
So many questions from an afternoon in the garden- perhaps I should get out more!
 
#10
putteesinmyhands said:
"Colditz, the German viewpoint" by Reinhold Eggers?

No, it wasn't that one I was talking about, puttees, although I have read it. The one I read was in German (logical, I suppose, since it was written by a Kraut). I think the author's name was something like Sonnenberg, but I'm not sure. Also, the title had "Achtung und Ächtung" (admiration and condemnation) in it, if memory serves.

MsG
 
#11
putteesinmyhands said:
Why settle for reading a book? Go to Eden Camp and live the story.

www.edencamp.co.uk/
An excellent museum to spend the day at, even if it does have a lot of the bizarre eccentricities you'd expect from somewhere essentially started and run by an 'enthusiast'. The abiding memory of my visit was the display where two chaps, who obviously enjoyed their weekends dressed up as Waffen SS, populated one of the displays as extras and when visitors were present sprang into life (in the style of Acorn Antiques) to point enthusiastically (obviously didn't speak german) at a magazine. Well worth a look if you're in the area though.
 
#13
Right, I got some feedback on the bundeswehrforum.de and did as a chappie called "Timid" suggested. I got a whole list of names of Krauts who've written about concentration camps in one form or another. Here's the list of them:

Wilhelm J. Weibel
Rainer Kubitski
Elmar Blessing
Rudolf Koch
Klaus Otte
Hans J. Sonnenberg (whose book I read)

The problem is that even when I feed these names into the Brit or Septic Amazon sites, they all come up as, in principle, available, but they're all in German.

So now we have the difficulty of trying to find an English translation. I'm not really sure how to go about that. Anybody any ideas?

MsG
 
#14
PsyWar.Org said:
There's Also there is a book/movie about the German U-boat officer (?) who escaped from a Canadian POW camp but the book title escapes me. The movie was called something like The One that Got Away.


It is indeed "The One That Got Away" by Kendal Burt and James Leasor (Collins, 1956).

Franz von-Werra. Luftwaffe fighter pilot and all-round German war-hero, holder of the Knight's Cross and, amongst other things, appearing on the cover of Signal magazine with his pet lion cub mascot, Simba.
Escaped from Grizedale Hall POW camp and was caught actually in the cockpit of a Spitfire trying to make his escape.
Finally escaped from Canada to the (then neutral) USA over the partially frozen St Lawrence river.
Bit of a show-off but an amazing story, nonetheless.
 
#15
Archer

You know of course that the French P.O.Ws started to dig a tunnel out from the clock tower, that was about 8.6m above the ground.

So the French dug a tunnel ? starting 28 feet above ground level. How Fcking cleaver was that?

"So Hauptman , we have no underground tunnels here"

"The tunnel itself was a major engineering feat. It had electric lighting along its whole length spliced off of the chapel's electricity supply. Not only did this allow the tunnellers to see what they were doing, it was also used as a system with which to signal to them the arrival of any sentries. The entrance to the tunnel in the wine cellar was concealed by 5 large stones covering a small door, which left little trace of any hole. Debris was transported from the working area by means of several sacks hoisted up the clock tower and disposed of in the castle's attics. The wine cellar was regularly cleaned and redusted using dust harvested from the attic, so as to hide the reddish clay dust which was not present in the cellar ordinarily"
 
#16
RedRabbit said:
Franz von-Werra. Luftwaffe fighter pilot and all-round German war-hero, holder of the Knight's Cross and, amongst other things, appearing on the cover of Signal magazine with his pet lion cub mascot, Simba. Escaped from Grizedale Hall POW camp and was caught actually in the cockpit of a Spitfire trying to make his escape. Finally escaped from Canada to the (then neutral) USA over the partially frozen St Lawrence river.
Bit of a show-off but an amazing story, nonetheless.
He got back to Germany via Mexico in April 1941 only to be killed six months later when his plane disappeared while on patrol over the North Sea. He was apparently also instrumental in improving the conditions for British POWs. His remarks, upon viewing the poor conditions in which they lived, that he would much rather be a prisoner under the British, is believed to have led to there being an effort to improve the lot of prisoners in German custody.
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
#17
Rumrunner said:
This is good. Not a book but a very interesting site with some good links:-

http://www.islandfarm.fsnet.co.uk/index.html

Hope it is some help.
Bugger. I spent two weeks on R&R in Bridgend last month and wanted to get in with this weblink.

"Island Farm" describes an area of land on the Southwest corner of Bridgend. Having found a reference to Island Farm POW Camp, I asked at the nearest Tourist Information Centre. Extremely helpful guy gave me a flyer and drew me a map of where the one remaining hut is.

It was swelteringly hot as we walked the overgrown paths covered in dog droppings through the wasteland. Wor Lass, who is recovering from very serious illness, eventually gave up and sat on a folding chair while I carried out a recce and returned with a sitrep.

This one remaining hut is now behind a steel fence probably far more robust than the ones there six decades ago. If you look at the pictures on the website you can see where the local youths trashed an internal wall the POWS had built, behind which to hide the spoil from the tunnel. Bastids.

Wor Lass's grandfather was a prison camp guard (not at Island Farm, even though the lived just round the corner as an infant) and used to regale her with stories about how the POWs would donate their sweet ration to Granddad after he showed them pictures of his own daughter (my late Mother In Law).

I returned the flyer to home yesterday, but I did notice that Island Farm belongs to CADW, the people who look after Welsh castles, so fingers crossed the one remaining hut will one day become worthy of a visit. Sadly it it isn't now.

ps Not knowing that I am now a Staff Software Engineer for a multinational IT megacorporation (some move up from Crewman Gunner CVR(T) eh?) the Tourist Office guy did helpfully point out that if you just press Print to sit and read the website offline in your own time, you'll get about 74 pages back.
 
#18
PsyWar.Org said:
There's Colditz - The German Story by Reinhold Eggers - who was the Security officer at Colditz.

Also there is a book/movie about the German U-boat officer (?) who escaped from a Canadian POW camp but the book title escapes me. The movie was called something like The One that Got Away.
Luftwaffe pilot - von Werra.

Bugger - beaten to it!

Saw the film when I was a kid
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
#19
putteesinmyhands said:
Why settle for reading a book? Go to Eden Camp and live the story.

www.edencamp.co.uk/
Funnily enough the Welsh Tourism Board gadgy (see my previous post), when asked about Island Farm, did point out that a former POW Camp near Middlesbrough had been turned into a theme park.

I asked him if it was called Butlins - or is that Butlitz?

He said it was well worth a visit. (But I was in Wales so I didn't.)

I presume he was talking about Eden Camp.

It must have been fun doing the headcounts in a POW Camp in Middlesbrough and finding there were always twice as many heads as bodies ...
 

AlienFTM

MIA
Book Reviewer
#20
Bugsy7 said:
<SNIP>So now we have the difficulty of trying to find an English translation. I'm not really sure how to go about that. Anybody any ideas?

MsG
I wouldn't recommend Babelfish, even before they realised they could charge for their services.

I once e-mailed a ramble to my football-supporter friends telling a story about life in BAOR, littered with Army colloquialisms and the pidjin German we might use in everyday life.

One lad was so bemused that he loaded it into (the then still free) Babelfish and had it translated from German into English (he really needed a Pitmatic - English online translator but they don't exist). It gave him garbage back, so instead he loaded it an English - German translator and then back into English. He then posted the result back round the e-mail group.

It was a long time before I laughed as long as and loud again, but the translation was sh1te.
 

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