May 2010 Archive

War Diary of Internment Camp No. 135: April 2-19

Link to War Diary of Internment Camp No. 135: April 2-19
(courtesy of CFB/ASU Wainwright)

Excerpts from April 1945: (skipped days are not marked; typos are from the original)

2nd - Monday - Continued fine weather. Parole walks started at 1400 hours by PW.

5th - Thursday - Still cloudy and cool. No 36 Coy was relieved by No 30 Coy. V.G.C.,the latter arriving at 1120 hours and the former leaving at 1620 hours. Guard re-inforced during hours of darkness by roving Patrol back from Wire from Tower 4 to Tower 7. Lt.-Col. Jull of District H.Q. arrived to complete Court of Inquiry re Escapes of 2 PW. Camp all C.B'd and everyone on the Alert in case of PW trouble, trying to take advantage of New Guard Coy. Col. Jull and Capt. Ashbury made Special Check of Guard Towers at Midnight.

7th - Saturday - More snow in morning but warmer after dinner. ... Advise received from Ottawa that 46 PW from Grand Ligne & 283 from Bowmanville are to arrive here next week.

12th - Thursday - Snowed at 0800 hours, cleared up later. ... Total PW Count now 1094. President Roosevelt passed away (63 yrs old)

13th - Friday - Sunny & warmer. ... Commandant permitted 4 dogs, brought from Bowmanville, to be kept in Enclosure.

15th - Sunday - Cloudy with strong, cold wind, snow flurries. Church Services in Recreation Hut for All Ranks, the theme being in all cases,eulogies of the late President, who was buried this date at Hyde Park, N.Y.

18th - Wednesday - Mild & Sunny. Capt. Pierce of R.C.E. in Camp to destroy bombs found by PW in Parole Area. A PW Officer Gundlach was removed from the Enclosure at the urgent request of Camp Spokesman who claimed his life was in danger from other PW. PW O.R. Luszak paraded to the Interpreter and admitted he was impersonating PW Baumann from Grande Ligne, as PW Dental Identification was in prospect.

19th - Thursday - Snow flurry early morning, cloudy & cool. S/Sgt from H.Q. arrived to fumigate PW Quarters that are reported to have bedbugs. Careless thrown cigarette butt by one of PW on Parole Walk, cause a grass fire, which was brought under control in 3/4 of an hour.Rehabilitation Questionnaires called in from VGC Personnel in Camp.

Stay tuned for next week's post....

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Page 3: Once we were within earshot...

Link to Page 3: Once we were within earshot...
(Copyright 2009 by Klaus Conrad and Germancosm)

The book posters are running ahead of the pages ... so, back to the story.

Als wir auf Rufweite heranwaren, wurde gerade ein Arbeiter von außen hereingelassen; er glaubte, zwei seiner Arbeitskollegen kommen zu sehen, und machte Anstalten, auf uns zu warten. "Der hat uns gerade noch gefehlt!" flüsterte Heinz hinter mir. Wir legten die Drahtrolle ab und machten uns an ihr zu schaffen, bis dem Wartenden die Zeit zu lang wurde und er von dannen trottete. Erleichtert setzten wir unseren Weg fort. Kaltblütig schritten wir auf den diensthabenden Posten zu, als seien wir schon hundertmal diesen Weg gegangen. Wie würde er sich verhalten? Interessiert schaute er uns entgegen. Wenn er nur kein Gespräch mit uns anfängt! Wir waren aufs höchste gespannt; nur wenige Schritte trennten uns - da näherte sich von außen her ein Offizier. Dienstbeflissen eilte der Soldat ans äußere Tor. Während er es umständlich aufschloß, traten wir durch das offene Tor des inneren Zaunringes und gelangten unbehelligt in den schmalen Gang zwischen den beiden Zäunen. Einen Zaun hatten wir überwunden, aber der zweite äußere trennte uns noch von der Freiheit.

Once we were within earshot, a worker was being let in from outside; he thought he saw two of his coworkers coming, and proceeded to wait for us. "That's the last thing we needed!" whispered Heinz behind me. We set the wire roll down and started fiddling around with it, until the time dragged on too long for the waiting worker and he trotted away. Relieved, we continued on our way. Coolly we strode toward the guard on duty, as if we had gone this way a hundred times before. How would he react? Interested, he looked over at us. If only he wouldn't start a conversation with us! We had the utmost anxiety; very few steps remained - then an officer approached from outside. Diligent in his duty, the soldier hurried toward the outer gate. While he laboriously opened it, we stepped through the open gate of the inner fence ring and arrived unharmed in the narrow path between the two fences. We had passed one fence, but the second, outer, still separated us from freedom.

Related Posts:
   1. Page 4: Slowly we strode along, stopping here and there... (Jun 04, 2010)
   2. Page 2: The last morning count (May 21, 2010)
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Book poster: Joy! (scenic)

Link to Book poster: Joy! (scenic)
(Image adapted from wili, varun, and varun at Flickr)

Here's another take on yesterday's quote.

The temperature was still cold in Alberta, Canada in March 1945, so the grass was probably brown and partially covered with snow. But perhaps this lush scene reflects how Klaus and Heinz felt immediately after their escape (page 9):

The feeling of happiness from the successful escape quickened our steps, and we began running out of joy.

Related Posts:
   1. Book trailer: Joy! (Jun 17, 2010)
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Book poster: Joy! (abstract)

Link to Book poster: Joy! (abstract)
(Image adapted from varun, varun and psd at Flickr)

Immediately after their escape (page 9):

The feeling of happiness from the successful escape quickened our steps, and we began running out of joy.

Related Posts:
   1. Book trailer: Joy! (Jun 17, 2010)
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Book poster: We were free.

Link to Book poster: We were free.
(Image adapted from pinkmoose at Flickr)

Yesterday's blog post covered the official report of the March 19 escape. Here's our poster for their initial success, with text from the end of Chapter 1 (page 7). The full quote is below, with the missing text in italics.

Soon we had crossed the railroad tracks and reached the main road into Edmonton. We were free.

Related Posts:
   1. Page 7: We were free. (Jun 25, 2010)
   2. Book trailer: We were free. (Jun 10, 2010)
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War Diary of Internment Camp No. 135: Mar 19 escaped!

Link to War Diary of Internment Camp No. 135: Mar 19 escaped!
(courtesy of CFB/ASU Wainwright)

I included the previous War Diary entries to give a sense of daily camp life. Here's where the diary overlaps the beginning of Canadian Escapades.

Excerpts from March 1945: (emphasis added; skipped days are not marked)

19th - Monday - Reported that Two PW had climbed through Wire. Count held at 1600 hrs.-2 Missing. Identification Parade attempted but PW refused to co-operate. The whole Camp was C.B. and an all-night vigil kept in Admin. Bldg to await developments. Lt.-Col. Pender and Capt. Yule,(Intelligence) interviewed Commandant & Lt. Sorensen. Capt. Geo Les Strange of Ordnance transferred to Calgary.

20th - Tuesday - Fine & Sunny. Identification Parade at 1430 hrs established that PW Lt. Meuche, E and PW Lt. Conrad, K. were the two missing. Camp was declared 'A Detention Camp' at 1030 hrs, later lifted at 1930 hrs. Lt.-Col. Coombs, D.S. & T.O. in Camp. "Sundown" & "Ferry Pilot" shown in Recreation Hut at 1930 hrs. were appreciated as CB still in force.

21st - Wednesday - Dull & mild. Court of Inquiry ordered to inquire into and report upon the circumstances surrounding the escape of Two PW. Camp Standing Orders being distributed a total of 34 copies issued. "This is the Army"-Technicolor shown at 1930 hrs.

23rd - Friday - Clear, mild. ... Major Gibson presided at Court of Inquiry re Escape of 2 PW Officers. Five PW Officers transferred to Int. Camp, Seebe, Alta. "Secret Command" shown in camp at night.

27th - Tuesday - Clear & mild. ... Major J. Gibson concluding Court of Inquiry relative the escape of 2 PW. Bingo played in Recreation Hut-1900 hrs.

28th - Wednesday - Lt. Col. Parsons and Major Young of HQ MD 13 accompanied by Major Ramsay NDHQ were visitors in Camp.

29th - Thursday - Major T.O.B. Gore- Hickman and Major Sheppard were visitors from DHQ also Col. Cunnington who made an inspection of Camp with Major J.Gibson

31 - Saturday - Clear and mild. Routine normal.


Alta. - Alberta

C.B. - Confined to Barracks

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Page 2: The last morning count

Link to Page 2: The last morning count
(Copyright 2009 by Klaus Conrad and Germancosm)

Continuing from last Friday:

Die letzte Morgenzählung

Etwas beklommen, nach links und rechts schielend, wohnten wir noch der Morgenzählung bei - zum letzten Male! Der diensthabende Sergeant schritt die Reihen entlang - für den Bruchteil einer Sekunde ruhten seine Augen in den meinen; ahnte er etwas? Mir war plötzlich ganz trocken in der Kehle - schon war er vorbei; die nächste Kolonne, die übernächste. "Zählung beendet!" ertönte der Ruf. "Nun aber schnell!" sagte Heinz, "wenn's jetzt klappt, dann sucht uns niemand mehr bis zur Abendzählung um 5 Uhr - und dann sind wir über alle Berge ..." Rasch hatten wir unsere Zivilanzüge angezogen und darüber blaue Overalls gestreift, wie sie von jedem Arbeiter in Nordamerika getragen werden. Schlecht rasiert und ein wenig geschminkt, um älter auszusehen, schlenderten wir über den Lagersportplatz, steckten eine Tragstange durch eine Stacheldrahtrolle, die von Zaunausbesserungen liegengeblieben war und schritten damit zum Tor.

The last morning count

Quite anxious, glancing right and left, we attended the morning count - for the last time! The sergeant on duty was walking along the rows - for a split-second his eyes met mine; did he suspect something? It was suddenly quite dry in my throat - then he passed by; to the next column, then the one after that. "Count finished!" the call sounded. "Now; quickly!" said Heinz, "if it works now, then nobody will look for us until the evening count at 5 o'clock - and then we'll be far away ..." Quickly we had put on our civilian clothes and then blue striped overalls, the kind worn by every worker in North America. Badly shaven and with a little makeup to look older, we sauntered across the camp's sports field, stuck a bar through a roll of barbed wire that was left behind after fence repair work, and strode with it to the gate.

Related Posts:
   1. Peter Krug and Erich Boehle escape from Bowmanville (Aug 10, 2010)
   2. "The Ritual of the Daily Head Count" (Aug 09, 2010)
   3. Page 3: Once we were within earshot... (May 28, 2010)
   4. Page 1: Finally all preparations were completed. (May 14, 2010)
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The Big Escape from Island Farm POW camp in Great Britain

Link to The Big Escape from Island Farm POW camp in Great Britain

The largest escape attempt made by German POWs in Great Britain during WWII occurred at Camp 198 in South Wales, aka Island Farm, in March of 1945.

According to a website dedicated to the camp:

Less than four months after the first officer-prisoners had started arriving at Island Farm and two months after [camp Commandant Lieutenant-Colonel] Darling had discovered the first of the paired tunnels, 70 prisoners escaped.

The site has lots of great details, including:

  • details and pictures of the escape tunnel
  • a BBC news recording (00:40) detailing the escape
  • Multiple news cuttings reporting the escape and recapture of the POWs
  • newspaper article on the 55th anniversary of the breakout
  • actual photos of the escape tunnel, re-opened in 2003
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Karl Rabe's 4 escape attempts from Lethbridge

Link to Karl Rabe's 4 escape attempts from Lethbridge
Google Maps

German POW Karl Rabe, in 1943:

Each evening big empty plywood boxes for the handling of bread were placed between the inner and outer main camp gates. One night he got into one of the boxes and with a handmade saw started to saw his way out of the box at a time when he calculated no guard was around. However in the silence of the prairie night his sawblade together with the vibrating of the pliable plywood made a terrible noise. Soon a sentry came to the box to watch he was joined by about twenty guards who watched him emerge from the box. His hair was shaved and he received two weeks detention.

Later in the heat of the summer Rabe having studied the drainage system the camp, decided to escape via the storm sewers.


Escape attempt number three involved power lines connecting the camp buildings. On a rainy night Rabe attached two wheels with handles protruding on top of the wires and rolled off into the night.


The most ambitious escape attempt by this escape-a-holic was the preparation of a hot air balloon to fly over the barbed wire.

Read the omitted details (along with an earlier escape in Ontario) at the u-35 profile. Original source: David J. Carter's POW - Behind Canadian Barbed Wire.

Related Posts:
   1. Book (1980, 2004): POW Behind Canadian Barbed Wire (Apr 27, 2010)
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Military courtesy between enemies: Werner Lott and Lord Mountbatten

Link to Military courtesy between enemies: Werner Lott and Lord Mountbatten
see entire image at

An interesting account from December 1939:

The entire crew of U-35 was taken to the Tower of London, arriving there on 03 December 1939. Placed immediately in his own, very cold cell, Werner Lott, commander of U-35, said he would go on a hunger strike until he was seen by an officer. On the second day, Werner Lott was visited by Captain Lord Louis Mountbatten, commander of the destroyer flotilla which had sunk U-35. Lord Mountbatten arranged for him to be seen by the military commandant and soon afterwards Werner Lott was moved to new quarters, where he accepted an offered meal, honour now satisfied.

The Admiralty sent apologies, via Lord Mountbatten, for the way that Werner Lott had been treated and offered as recompense a 'splendid' meal - an invitation for Werner Lott to dine at Scott's Restaurant. Werner Lott accepted on the condition that his second-in-command, Heinz Erchen, could accompany him. The two Germans, under promise not to attempt to escape, were given parole for the evening. Dressed in civilian clothes, they were escorted across the drawbridge to a waiting Admiralty limousine. After a very convivial dinner with two British naval officers (one being Commander Halahan), whom both had known in Gibraltar in 1938, the Germans returned to the Tower.

Mountbatten correctly analyzed how the war would unfold, though I wonder whether he suspected how long it would take:

Lott: ... next Summer when we invade England and take over ...

Mountbatten: I am afraid you don’t understand what is going to happen in this war; yet you should as you are a naval officer. In the 1914/18 war your army was victorious everywhere but the Royal Navy blockaded you to the point of starvation, surrender and revolution. In this war your army will unquestionably be victorious in Europe when they come to over- run France next year but you still have got to cross the sea to invade England. The Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force will prevent that. You will find the Germans confined to a conquered continent without having conquered the United Kingdom.

Then in due course Hitler will make the same mistake that the Kaiser made which will involve the United States of America coming into the war on our side. When that happens it will be we who will invade the continent and defeat Hitler on land. That will be the end of the war with victory for us and defeat for you. I think therefore you had better start learning English and preparing yourself for the difficult times you will find in Germany after your release.

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War Diary of Internment Camp No. 135: Mar 4-19

Link to War Diary of Internment Camp No. 135: Mar 4-19
(courtesy of CFB/ASU Wainwright)

Excerpts from March 1945: (skipped days are not marked)

4th - Sunday - Quite Cold. Usual Church Services for R.C. Personnel. Protestant Padre unable to get here - couldn't start his car and Camp Cars also Frozen up.

6th - Tuesday - Warmer. PW Officer had acute appendicitis at night. Bingo played in Recreation Hut at 1900 hours.

7th - Wednesday - Weather mild. As Municipal Hospital at Wainwright refused admittance to PW Officer operation was performed by M.O. in our M.I.R. The nurses from the Hospital volunteered to help and also loaned the necessary instruments. The operation was a success.

14th - Wednesday - Snowed but later cleared up. Pay Parade at 1300 hrs for HQ Staff. ...

16th - Friday - Cloudy. A total of $236.00 collected for the Red Cross from Camp Personnel. "The Reckless Age" and "The Rainbow", the latter a Russian Film, were shown at 1930 hours in K. of C. Hut at South Side of Camp.

19th - Monday - Frosty and sunny. Mr Maag, representing Int. Red Cross was in Camp.

The rest of Monday's entry deserves its own post....


  • M.O. - Medical Officer
  • M.I.R. - Medical Inspection Room ?
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Page 1: Finally all preparations were completed.

Link to Page 1: Finally all preparations were completed.
(Copyright 2009 by Klaus Conrad and Germancosm)

Here's an unformatted copy of this page, in German and English:

Chapter I

Endlich waren alle Vorbereitungen abgeschlossen. Fieberhaft hatte ein kleiner Kreis Eingeweihter Tag und Nacht mitgeholfen, alle die vielen Dinge, die zu einer Flucht gehörten, fertigzustellen. Aus alten Decken waren Zivilanzüge entstanden, Arbeitermützen waren gefertigt, Karten gezeichnet, Ausweise gefälscht und sogar etwas Geld aufgetrieben worden. Seit Wochen schon hatten wir die Gewohnheiten der einzelnen Wachposten genau studiert und uns ihren Wachturnus gemerkt. Da gab es Schläfrige und Wachsame, Unpünktliche und Genaue, solche, die sich durch das geringste Geräusch gleich in Aufregung versetzen ließen und sofort schössen, und andere, die im Stehen zu schlafen verstanden.

Finally all preparations were completed. Feverishly, a small circle of insiders had helped day and night to complete all the many things needed for an escape. Old blankets were turned into civilian clothing, worker hats were made, maps drawn, IDs forged and even some money was obtained. For weeks we had closely studied the habits of every guard and memorized their shifts. There were sleepy and alert guards, tardy and punctual guards, some who would get agitated by the slightest noise and immediately shoot, and others who tried to sleep standing up.

Related Posts:
   1. Page 2: The last morning count (May 21, 2010)
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Setting the stage...

Link to Setting the stage...
(Adapted from the CIA World Factbook)

After being shot down over England in 1941, German Air Force officer Klaus Conrad was captured as a prisoner of war. He was taken to Canada in 1942. This story begins in March 1945 at a POW camp near the town of Wainwright, Alberta. Although the first POWs arrived at the camp on January 29, 1945, construction work on the fence continued for several months.

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Link to Introduction

Here's the book's intro:

This first edition, quite intentionally, preserves the author's informal style, including long sentences with several ideas joined by commas, as may be more appropriate for retelling the story in front of a campfire, but which, like this sentence, surely exceed what might otherwise be expected in print. Some compound sentences have been split to make the dual-language alignment more clear – though the lines that start with a lowercase letter may stand out a bit. If enough readers express a preference for the usual conventions of print, we may release a new edition.

We may also release an English-only edition in the future. Meanwhile, I hope that readers who aren't interested in German will still enjoy what I think is a great story.

For those who are interested in language, I made the translation into English as literal as I could while trying to follow English rules and style. Feedback welcome! (The first two translation passes were done by others, but any awkwardness that remains may well be my doing.)

The format of this bilingual edition is designed to encourage those who are still learning the other language (whether English or German) to read the story in that language. If you don't understand a sentence after reading it carefully, just glance at the other column. No tedious dictionary lookup is required. (Tip: but otherwise keep that side covered. It's too easy to get wrapped up in the story and continue in whichever language you find easier. To quote from the book: "die schönsten Früchte fallen uns nicht mühelos in den Schoß".)

Scott S. Lawton
November 2009

P.S. I should probably disclose that, although related only by marriage, Dr. Klaus Conrad is my uncle's uncle. I've met him twice, but only recently learned of his adventures -- and, more importantly, that he had written them down several years ago for family and friends. I'm pleased to take the opportunity to present his escapades to a wider audience.

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Friendly German guard at Stalag 4 B

Link to Friendly German guard at Stalag 4 B
prinsrichard at Flickr

A story worth sharing, from American POW Robert M. Fecht:

As you know, or have heard, the Nazi’s had no love for the Catholics. Our Commandant, who must have been indoctrinated by Hitler himself, had a very special dislike for them.


One Sunday, when the Commandant was supposed to have been gone, one of the guards, whose name was Herr Engle, called me into his room. Upon entering, I noticed a woman sitting at a small table. She smiled as the guard shut the door, motioning me to be quiet and, at the same time, she handed me a small sugar bowl full of strawberry sauce. Thinking the world had come to an end, I hurriedly ate them. I don’t think anything tasted as good to me as they did right then.

Then, to my astonishment, she pulled out a rosary and pointed to herself and the guard and said, "Catholic." I looked at the guard and he nodded and was all smiles. Just then, the door opened and there stood the Commandant.

Read the rest to see how Fecht saved the day.

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War Diary of Internment Camp No. 135: Feb 10-28

Link to War Diary of Internment Camp No. 135: Feb 10-28
(courtesy of CFB/ASU Wainwright)

Someone else's escape attempt!

Excerpts from February 1945: (skipped days are not marked)

10th - Saturday - Mild, grounds quite icy. Preparations being made to receive PW now En Route from Gravenhurst. At 2040 hrs. telephone Message received from Dist. H.Q., Calgary that there was trouble on PW Train and to have a strong Guard ready to assist on arrival. Commandant returned from Edmonton.

11th - Sunday - Clear and cool. 172 Officers and 73 O.Rs. all PW arrived at 0900 hrs. from Gravenhurst. One PW Officer under Arrest, having attempted to escape on the way. Escort from 40 Coy. VGC under Capt. Montgomery, Officer i/c Train. Total PW Count in Camp now 769.

12th - Monday - Weather fine. ... PW 51981 Oblt. Malischewski, B. sentenced to 28 days detention for attempting to escape from the train bringing him from Gravenhurst to this camp. PW 91083 O/Lieut. Koke, W. paraded before Commandant for Impersonation and was remanded in custody of Camp Spokesman until instructions receieved from D.H.Q.

15th - Thursday - ... Temperature 38 degrees below zero with strong wind blowing and all Quarters very cold.

16th - Friday - Very cold, wind moderating. Search of Effects from PW from Gravenhurst continuing; large library of Books and Gramaphone Records creating quite a problem. The extreme cold is holding up work of putting up Inside Wire Enclosure Fence. ...

17th - Saturday - Clear, moderating, no wind. Mr Boeschlin, Swiss Consul finished interviewing PW and reported to Camp Commandant that PW have no complaints. The PW from Gravenhurst objecting to Mail being distributed to each Man individually by Camp Interpreter. ...

19th - Monday - Sunny. PW 19630 Hpt./G. BRUENDEL, E. was awarded 5 days Detention for Insolence to the Camp Interpreter. Mr. Dale Brown of International Y.M.C.A. visited Camp and had an interview with 5 PW Officers. ...

27th - Tuesday - ... M 35842 Pte. Cardinal, W. J. (Cook) appointed A/Cpl. (Unpaid) Meals in the Mens Mess have shown considerable improvement since his arrival. ...

28th - Wednesday - ... Strengths:- PW Strength is 575 Officers, 15 Civilians and 179 O.Rs. Total - 769.

H.Q. Personnel:- 7 Officers and 34 O.Rs.

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Documentary (2001): Prisoners in Paradise (Italian POWs)

Link to Documentary (2001): Prisoners in Paradise (Italian POWs)

In addition to German POWs, the U.S. held about 51,000 Italian POWs during WW2.

Some are covered in an award winning documentary film. According to the film's website:

Featuring rare period footage of POW camps, "Prisoners in Paradise" follows six Italian POWs (and the women they met in America) on their extraordinary journey—full of challenges, love, perseverance, and good luck. Captured primarily in Northern Africa—where they had been surviving on hard biscuits and water—the Italian POW’s were uniformly amazed at the abundance of food in the USA and the generosity of their captors.

Interesting to note:

Shortly after the bulk of the Italian POW’s arrived, Italy officially switched sides in the war, and over ninety percent of the POWs agreed to collaborate with the Allied war effort.

The site includes a clip (4:54) from the film.

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Stalag Luft III; conditions in a German POW camp

Link to Stalag Luft III; conditions in a German POW camp

There were many horrors of WW2. Those issues are well covered elsewhere, so not addressed on this blog. Instead, I want to highlight courage and dignity on both sides.

In Real Great Escape - Conditions, Rob Davis writes:

Allied aircrew shot down during World War II were incarcerated after interrogation in Air Force Prisoner of War camps run by the Luftwaffe, called Stalag Luft, short for Stammlager Luft or Permanent Camps for Airmen. Stalag Luft III was situated in Sagan, 100 miles south-east of Berlin, now called Zagan, in Upper Silesia, Poland.

It must be made clear that the German Luftwaffe, who were responsible for Air Force prisoners of war, maintained a degree of professional respect for fellow flyers, and the general attitude of the camp security officers and guards should not be confused with the SS or Gestapo. The Luftwaffe treated the PoWs well, despite an erratic and inconsistent supply of food.

Also noteworthy:

the Luftwaffe was (the least Nazified of the three German forces)

I haven't read much about the other Stalag Luft camps, but this note is interesting:

Compared to other prisoner of war camps throughout the Axis world, it was a model of civilized internment.

Related Posts:
   1. "so correct and indeed friendly" (Sep 23, 2010)
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Book (1950, 2004): The Great Escape by Paul Brickhill

Link to Book (1950, 2004): The Great Escape by Paul Brickhill

Paul Brickhill was born in Melbourne, Australia and began his career as a journalist at the Sydney Sun. He joined the war effort, trained as a pilot, was shot down in March 1943 and sent to Stalag Luft III. In addition to helping plan the famous escape, he put his writing skills to good use.

In 1946, he first published Escape to Danger with fellow POW Conrad Norton, illustrated by Ley Kenyon. Here's a review:

Simply an amazing collection of stories.... Very easy to read and hard to put down.

His famous book came next

It was suggested that ... the mass escape - might merit a book of its own.

(Source: a reprint of the April 1991 obituary in The Guardian: "Inescapable fears of the wartime hero".)

The Great Escape was published in 1950 or 1951, and was the primary source for the 1963 movie of the same name.

Two of his later books were also made into movies:

  • The Dam Busters (1951 book, 1955 movie, 2001 documentary ... and a new movie in production)
  • Reach for the Sky: Legless Ace of the Battle of Britain (1954 book, 1956 movie)
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Movie (1963): The Great Escape

Link to Movie (1963): The Great Escape

There are plenty of movies to cover. This one is probably the most famous: "The Great Escape" starring Steve McQueen, James Garner and Richard Attenborough. It is based on the true story of a group of Allied POWs who escaped from Stalag Luft III.

According to its IMDb plot summary:

The Nazis, exasperated at the number of escapes from their prison camps by a relatively small number of Allied prisoners, relocates them to a high-security "escape-proof" camp to sit out the remainder of the war. Undaunted, the prisoners plan one of the most ambitious escape attempts of World War II.

According to this site, many of the scenes are true to life, though with the usual composite characters and mixed-up timelines.

release date: 1963, on DVD 2004
list price: $19.98
format: DVD
run time: 172 minutes

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War Diary of Internment Camp No. 135: Feb 1-9

Link to War Diary of Internment Camp No. 135: Feb 1-9
(courtesy of CFB/ASU Wainwright)

Excerpts from February 1945: (skipped days are not marked)

1st - Thursday - Clear and cold. PW being counted 3 times daily, at 0815, 1315 and 2145 hours. Camp Commandant held a conference with Camp Spokesman and his Adjutant. ...

3rd - Saturday - ... PW Fire Piquet consisting of 10 Officers & 10 O.Rs., had Fire Drill.

4th - Sunday - ... PW Counts changed to twice a day. ... Camp Church Parades held R.Cs. at 0830 hours and Protestants at 1030 hours.

5th - Monday - ... Information received that more Prisoners would arrive from Gravenhurst on Saturday, namely 174 Officers and 74 O.Rs. Moving Picture "Double Indemnity" shown in Mens Canteen at 1900 hours.

6th - Tuesday - ... Camp Engineer Officer and Camp Q.M. busy making minor adjustments within Enclosure, as requested by PW. ...

7th - Wednesday - ... Representatives of T. Eaton Co., Edmonton visited Camp in connection with purchases by PW. ...

8th - Thursday - ... Vehicles supplied to Camp in very bad shape, and in spite of RCEME Detail working all the time, are constantly breaking down.

9th - Friday - Sunny and cool. PW 91083 O/Lieut. KOKE, W. was discovered to be impersonating PW 54741 Lieut. VON HAGEN, Wilhelm and was brought before Major J. Gibson who remanded him to appear before Lt.0-Col. C.G. Bradshaw, when he returns to Camp. ...

Glossary and notes:

PW - Prisoners of War

T. Eaton Co. - a large department store

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