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Experiences in Lamsdorf / Łambinowice

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1 Experiences in Lamsdorf / Łambinowice

2 Experiences in Lamsdorf/Łambinowice
The long and varied history of the internment camp and the nearby cemetery at Lamsdorf/Łambinowice in Upper Silesia gives it a special significance. The first detainees held in the camp were French prisoners-of-war captured in the Franco-Prussian War of In the First World War, many POWs from the Allied Powers were held there: British, French, Russian, Serbian and Romanian. After the war the camp was used to hold people displaced by the territorial changes of It was again used to hold British and French POWs when the Second World War began; and was vastly expanded to hold Soviet POWs after the war widened in After the war ended in 1945, the purpose of the camp at Łambinowice changed again, to become a labour camp for ethnic German prisoners. It was deserted and forgotten during the Cold War but re-opened as a memorial site and education centre focused on remembrance. This collection of sources illustrates the multi-faceted history and memory of internment, seen through people’s experiences and perceptions. Acknowledgements This source collection is made by Chris Rowe with the support of the staff of the Central Museum of Prisoners-of- War in  Łambinowice-Opole and Mateo Martinez. This collection is part of the unit “Internment without a trial: Examples from the Nazi and Soviet regimes” that is developed in the Multi-Facetted Memory project. More information

3 Navy blue – camp from the time of the Franco-Prussian War.
Blue – POW during World War One, later in the World War Two the British camp (Stalag VIII B (344)) Red – Soviet camp (Stalag 318/VIII F (344)) Green - Internment camp of The name of the nearest villages are legible on the map, e.g. Lamsdorf (Łambinowice), Schadeberg (Szadurczyce), Kleuschnitz (Klucznik)... (Public Domain)

4 Beginnings: 1870 to 1920 In October 1870, during the Franco-Prussian War, the first French POWs arrived in Lamsdorf. They were lodged in the existing buildings on the military shooting range, and were employed to construct new facilities. The camp functioned until the Spring of Altogether, there were almost 4000 French soldiers detained there. The only material trace of their stay at Lamsdorf is the plot containing 52 graves and a monument in the Old POW Cemetery. Prisoners-of-War arrived in Lamsdorf again, August Altogether, about prisoners were interned in the camp: privates and non-commissioned officers of the Russian, Rumanian, Italian, Serbian, French, British and Belgian armies. In the first years of captivity, the POWs had fairly good living conditions but, over time, due to the worsening economic situation in Germany, conditions deteriorated. The POWs were forced to work. They built extensions to the camp buildings and they were also employed outside the camp, in the nearby factory of August Zierz, manufacturing agricultural machines, on local estates, and also on road construction. They were paid for their work (about 60% of a free labourer’s wages doing the same work). The POWs used their free time to organize cultural activities, such as an orchestra, dance shows and art displays. The POWs were allowed to practise their religious practices without any major obstacle. About POWs died in captivity. They were buried in separate graves in the Old POW Cemetery nearby the graves of the French soldiers of The last POWs left Lamsdorf in 1920.


6 Graveyard for POWs The cemetery in the vicinity of Łambinowice was established during the Franco-Prussian War, for burying the dead of the POW camp. 52 prisoners died there. During the First World War the cemetery was expanded with a total of about 7,000 new graves. Several monuments were erected for dead prisoners, including Serbs, Russians, British, Italians, Prussian and German soldiers. (Jaques Lahitte / CC-BY-SA 3.0)


8 (Central Museum of Prisoners-of-War in Łambinowice-Opole)


10 (Central Museum of Prisoners-of-War in Łambinowice-Opole)


12 (Central Museum of Prisoners-of-War in Łambinowice-Opole)


14 Lamsdorf, Upper Silesia - Military training area: ‘Breathing pause before the battle’
(Copyright Unknown)


16 A French Prisoner of War
This picture is from the documents belonging to the family of Léon Lelouvier, born in Saint-Germain-du-Crioult in He was a French prisoner of war in Lamsdorf during the First World War and died there in 25 November 1918. The description at the bottom says: ‘To my little boy! In the hidden trenches, your rosy face Is smiling: it’s my son, my flesh, my blood, mine.’ (Archives Départementales de la Manche / CC-BY-SA 3.0)

17 The Repatriates Camp After the War, according to the resolutions of the Treaty of Versailles, the major part of the camp infrastructure was dismantled. Sub-camps III, IV and VI were liquidated completely. The camp was re-opened in 1921, however, to hold displaced persons from the territories which were annexed to the Republic of Poland. Many Germans were forced to move after the new borders were formed in 1919, and after the three Silesian Uprisings. The camp established Lamsdorf/Łambinowice at that time existed until 1924, accommodating several thousand people.


19 Changing borders A special passport issued in 1920 to those living in the region during the Upper Silesian plebiscite. The region was ethnically mixed with both Germans and Poles. The plebiscite was mandated by the Versailles Treaty, and was carried out in March 1921 to determine where would be the new border between Germany and Poland. In the end, Poland received roughly one third of the plebiscite area. (Huddyhuddy / CC-BY-SA 3.0)


21 Cemetery of the Franco-Prussian war
Between the two world wars, dozens of Germans (including children) from the areas that were incorporated into Poland in 1919 were buried in the cemetery alongside the prisoners of war who had been buried there during the Franco-Prussian war and the First World War. Today the Old Cemetery is part of a large complex, referred to collectively as the Site of National Remembrance in Łambinowice. (Public Domain in Poland)

22 Lamsdorf Experiences The Second World War In August 1939, six days before the invasion of Poland, the German authorities established Dulag B - a transition camp at Lamsdorf, ready to hold prisoners -of-war captured in Poland. In October, this became a permanent camp, Stalag VIII B Lamsdorf. From 1940 prisoners from Britain, France and their allies began arriving. In July 1941, after the war against the Soviet Union began, a new camp was set up 2 km away to hold prisoners of the Red Army - Stalag 318/VIII F Lamsdorf. At the end of 1943 both camps were combined as Stalag 344, which comprised Stalag VIII B, often known as the British Camp, as well as Stalag 318/VIII F, the Soviet Camp. The complex of camps was one of the largest in Europe. The camps at Lamsdorf held prisoners of many nationalities: almost Soviet POWs, Polish POWs, British POWs, and also French, Belgian, Yugoslav, Greek, American, Italian and Rumanian soldiers. Insurgents who participated in national uprisings were also imprisoned at Lamsdorf: about 6000 Poles who took part in the 1944 Warsaw Rising, and about 1600 Slovakian insurgents. There were clearly visible differences in the treatment of POWs of individual armies and nationalities. Relatively good conditions were provided to soldiers of the British Army, whereas soldiers of the Red Army suffered under appalling conditions – for them the camp was a place of extermination.


24 The camp at Lamsdorf/Łambinowice was reopened on September 3, 1939, immediately after the outbreak of the ’Polish Defensive War’. Stalag VIII B housed about 70,000 Polish prisoners. Later British and French prisoners were held there. After the outbreak of war with the USSR in June 1941, thousands of Soviet prisoners were held in a separate camp, Stalag 318/VIII F. Altogether, more than 300,000 Allied and Soviet prisoners passed through the gates of the camp at Lamsdorf; somewhere between 40,000 and 100,000 of them died. Most of those who perished were buried in mass graves in the nearby village of Klucznik and at the local cemetery.


26 Polish Prisoners of War
Witold Konecki, codename “Sulima” PoW at Stalag 344, Lamsdorf. ‘We were marching from the station to the camps, which were about 5-6 kilometres away, among unfriendly shouting of German civilians on the road. Local women and young people from the Hitlerjugend ran up to the prisoners of war, spitting, and hitting them with everything within their reach. German soldiers the prisoners roughly – they pushed them, hit them with rifle butts, bayoneted them, kicked them, tore armbands and eagles from caps, saying offensive epithets and taking away injured men’s canes. Among swearing and threats, the Germans ordered us to form marching columns, which were escorted by armed soldiers with dogs. Some of the prisoners of war threw away their rucksacks, suitcases, blankets or overcoats in order to keep up with the marching pace and to be able to help children, weaker people and injured.‘


28 Members of POW’s orchestra during rehearsal in barrack used as camp club-room in Stalag VIIIB (344) Lamsdorf (Central Museum of Prisoners-of-War in Łambinowice-Opole)


30 Football match played between barracks of the British Camp Stalag VIIIB (344) Lamsdorf.
(Central Museum of Prisoners-of-War in Łambinowice-Opole)


32 ‘’The Red Cross are doing noble work in keeping us well supplied with clothing, books, games and essential supplementary food. The time continues to pass quickly and I find plenty to do in the way of reading, walking, football, bridge and so on. I am keeping up my studies, concentrating particularly on banking and economics. You must not on any account worry about me.’’


34 Prisoners of War Post (Central Museum of Prisoners-of-War in Łambinowice-Opole)


36 “Remember how we used to ‘watch’ the section leader cutting the bread
A fragment of a POW's comic book by a Royal Canadian Air Force pilot, Andrew Carswell, drawn in Stalag VIIIB (344) Lamsdorf. (Central Museum of Prisoners-of-War in Łambinowice-Opole)



39 A fragment of a POW’s comic book of a RAF pilot Frank E
A fragment of a POW’s comic book of a RAF pilot Frank E. Hughes drawn in Stalag VIIIB (344) Lamsdorf in (Central Museum of Prisoners-of-War in Łambinowice-Opole)


41 Parade of pipers on the main avenue called „Brittenlager” in Stalag VIIIB (344).
In the foreground pipers from the Gordon Highlanders regiment. (Central Museum of Prisoners-of-War in Łambinowice-Opole)


43 British prisoners of war during Christmas in Stalag VIII B (344) Lamsdorf
(Central Museum of Prisoners-of-War in Łambinowice-Opole)


45 Christmas for POWs, 1944 A letter of a Warsaw insurgent – a prisoner of war from Stalag 344 Lamsdorf platoon officer cadet Jan Żułma, codename „Feliks”, to his father, Jan Żułma: ‘Happy New Year! On 22nd this month I received first pack from you for which I thank you. Thanks to it and a pack from the International Committee of the Red Cross, I could spend relatively nice Christmas. I’ve eaten a lot of bread, cold cooked meat, fruit and I had something to smoke. Despite merciless fate distancing us, I didn’t surrender to gloomy thoughts. During Christmas my spirit was with you. Now, after Christmas, I feel quite good. In the next pack please send me flour, cigarettes and groats. Try to send 2 kilos parcels by the Red Cross. Receiving packs or letters from home is like wonderful shot in the arm for us behind the barbed wire here. Kiss you very much. Feliks’ (Central Museum of Prisoners-of-War in Łambinowice-Opole)


47 Parade organized by British prisoners-of-war in Stalag VIII B (344) Lamsdorf. (Central Museum of Prisoners-of-War in Łambinowice-Opole)


49 Funeral for British prisoner-of-war, with the Swastika
(Central Museum of Prisoners-of-War in Łambinowice-Opole)


51 Insurgents of the 1944 Warsaw Rising imprisoned at Lamsdorf
(Central Museum of Prisoners-of-War in Łambinowice-Opole)

52 The Diary of prisoner-of-war Siergiej Woropajew “Daily Life in Hell”
Siergiej Woropajew fell into German captivity in He was a prisoner-of-war Lamsdorf and then moved from there to a work commando at a coal mine in Upper Silesia. From the diary kept by him, there emerges the whole tragic story of this young Soviet man, in part a poet and a philosopher. Working beyond endurance and being treated in an extremely harsh way, he had only one aim – to find food and satisfy hunger. However, hard work underground, poor nourishment, lack of clothing and primitive living standards in the huts caused him to fall badly ill with pneumonia, which later on developed into tuberculosis. In the autumn of 1944, he was transported to the camp field hospital in Lamsdorf. Despite the medical treatment given to him, the state of his health continued to worsen steadily, due to disease and hunger. In his diary, Woropajew displayed an awareness of the fact that he would not see his compatriots in the Red Army liberate the camp, even though they were so close. He was moved to ‘Block A’, called the ‘Death Block’. He made a balance of his young life, recalling his relatives, especially his parents. In February and March 1945, the sick prisoners-of-war were left without medicines, medical care and food. Because of his exhaustion, Woropajew did not rise form his bunk. The account of the last days of his life is shocking indeed. The last entry he made is dated 5 March Woropajew died on 23 March, five days after the camp had been liberated. The diary – according to his will – was sent to his father. (Central Museum of Prisoners-of-War in Łambinowice-Opole) 6 February 1945 My Dear s. I am a voice crying in the wilderness . It seems to me, I am standing on the threshold of death, with no hope of life. In en days I have not a crumb of bread; half a liter of soup from grass is not able to pump my blood. Every day I lose strength, tottering on my feet. Here we can hear the thunder of artillery explosions and guns. They say that the first line of the front. Os only 3.5 km away. My God, how sad I am. So close are now my brothers - fellow countrymen who carry freedom, and yet here is death from starvation. Thunder is around us, a kind of big circle has formed, within which there is the camp 318 Lamsdorf. The center of the camp is a kitchen, everybody goes to it and they die from the fascist criminals’ bullets. During my stay in the hut 10 people sidling to the kitchen were shot. But hungry people do not pay attention - one is shot, and another will still try to go there. Hunger, a terrible hunger. I do not know if I'll still be able to pick up a pencil. It is a pity that just before the liberation I shall die.

53 Lamsdorf Experiences The Soviet Camp The war between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union that began in June 1941 was different in its nature and scale from the war in the West that began in Nazi ideology decreed that the war on the Eastern Front was a ‘racial war’, to be fought with the utmost ferocity in order to achieve the extermination of ‘Jewish-Bolshevism’. The Geneva Convention did not apply to this war and there were many atrocities. In the early stages of the war vast numbers of Soviet soldiers were captured – nearly of them were imprisoned at Stalag 318/VIII F (344), the Soviet Camp at Lamsdorf. Nazi ideology meant that the treatment of the Soviet POWS was extremely severe. Unlike POWs in the British Camp they did not receive Red Cross parcels. They suffered from forced labour, mistreatment and malnutrition. Thousands died before the camp was liberated by the Red Army in March


55 The Soviet Camp: Stalag 318/VIII F (344) Lamsdorf/Łambinowice
(Central Museum of Prisoners-of-War in Łambinowice-Opole)


57 Annex to a directive of the General Staff of the Armed Forces 8. 9
Bolshevism is a deadly enemy of National Socialistic Germany. It is the first time in this war when a German soldiers meet with an opponent who is trained not only military, but also politically, and whose ideal is communism, who sees the worst enemy in National Socialistic German soldiers [...]. That is why it is necessary to be alert, careful and distrustful towards them. You should never turn your back to a prisoner of war!’ If any prisoner of war tries to escape it is ordered to fire immediately, without warning Conversations with prisoners of war on their way to and from working places are forbidden, not including necessary commands It is necessary to prevent conversations with civilians. If necessary use weapons against civilians . (Central Museum of Prisoners-of-War in Łambinowice-Opole)


59 Building work on sanitary buildings of Stalag 318/VIII F (344) Lamsdorf
When the Soviet-German war broke out in 1941, the camp needed to be extended rapidly: prisoners were imported to the local camp. The transports were frequent, brought more captives, which lasted almost until the end of the war in the spring of 1945. (Central Museum of Prisoners-of-War in Łambinowice-Opole)


61 Nazi ideology and the treatment of Soviet POWs
Ac 63-0/50 R/PL. 1 To each command of garrisons (according to the list). Announcement for all of the groups of management board of stationary prisoners-of-war camps VIII – A – VIII – P. Applies to: Soviet prisoners of war According to the decision made on a meeting in the General Staff of the Armed Forces the following directives were issued: 1. Duvets: Soviet prisoners of war will be given paper duvets. They should make them on their own from paper sackcloth, according to a pattern of quilted duvets, filled with crumpled paper or anything else. The material will be provided by the General Staff of the Armed Forces. 2. Burying of Soviet prisoners of war: Soviet prisoners of war must be buried undressed, wrapped in packaging paper, not in graves.[...] Undressing should be done under protection. Order - signed by Grossekettler (Central Museum of Prisoners-of-War in Łambinowice-Opole)


63 Art by Gieorgij Ivanovich Danilov – a Soviet prisoner-of-war Lamsdorf
(Central Museum of Prisoners-of-War in Łambinowice-Opole)


65 Military uniform buttons found in Lamsdorf
Painful memories - ‘I spent in the camp only 40 days I remember each of them as a real hell.’ Fragments of memories of Dmitrij Trofomowicz Czirow – Soviet prisoner of war In the morning on 18th October it started freezing. When Germans gathered us and counted, it turned out that about one thousand of our prisoners of war had died. The dead bodies were thrown like firewood. They took the corpses to a camp cemetery and buried them in mass nameless graves, which were prepared by other prisoners-of-war. For the Germans the time went faster when they could “play” with prisoners of war; and they “played” in many ways: they counted us very slowly by fives and hundreds, while we had to stand to attention, or they picked on prisoners which they didn’t like. The food was only ersatz bread baked from flour and finely grinded sawdust, and a sugary drink which was said to be coffee. After eating the bread and drinking coffee the prisoners didn’t lose their hunger, quite the opposite – it irritated the stomach and intensified the annoying hunger. (Central Museum of Prisoners-of-War in Łambinowice-Opole)


67 Soviet POWs at Stalag 344 Lamsdorf 1945
(Central Museum of Prisoners-of-War in Łambinowice-Opole)


69 Stalag 318/VIII F (344) Lamsdorf (Soviet POW), after the liberation – A big contrast with the British POW (Central Museum of Prisoners-of-War in Łambinowice-Opole)


71 POWS at Stalag 318/VIII F (344) Lamsdorf
(Central Museum of Prisoners-of-War in Łambinowice-Opole)

72 Fragments of memories of Dmitrij Trofomowicz Czirow Kargandy, a Soviet POW from Kazakhstan in Stalag 318/VIII F (344) Lamsdorf I came to camp 318/VIII F on 14th October 1941 with a group of more than three thousand Soviet prisoners of war. Although I spent in the camp only 40 days I remember each of them as a real hell. The whole column was at least one kilometer long. We were dirty, wrinkled, ragged and not shaven for at least a month. Half of us didn’t have any coats or groundsheets. We weren’t just hungry but ravenous. For supper, they served us watery swede soup, a slice of bread and a cup of sweat, warm drink, which was excessively called coffee. Those who managed to make friends with about five others, immediately started to dig holes and hollows with hope that it might be warmer there. And if not warmer, at least it will protect from the wind. They dug using everything which was within their reach: some of them used helmets, others knives, and next ones spoons. I and Piotr Kilganow decided not to dig. We hoped that Germans would relocate us to huts. Anyway, it was so cold that we couldn’t think about anything else than lying down and sleeping. We lay close to each other covered with my coat. But in the evening on 17th October it started drizzling, which later turned into rain. And we started to dig hollows like our friends. In the morning it started freezing. When Germans counted us it turned out that about one thousand of our prisoners had died. After a short time, 10 carts drawn by horses appeared. The dead bodies were thrown on the carts like firewood. They took away the corpses to a camp cemetery and buried them in mass nameless graves, which were prepared by other prisoners of war. They threw them in without any information about surname, age, or military rank. The whole procedure of ranking and dividing us lasted for about an hour and sometimes more. Our “German Masters” didn’t hurry, because it was during their working hours. For the Germans the time went faster when they could “play” with prisoners of war. And they “played” in many ways: they counted us slowly, we had to stand at attention, or they picked on prisoners which they didn’t like. German and Russian epithets surrounded us. After this prelude, kitchen service marched into the block’s gate with wooden tubs which contained a liquid effusively called “coffee”. The service carried something like a combination of bag and rucksack, in which there was some bread, or rather ersatz bread which was baked from flour and finely grinded sawdust. (Central Museum of Prisoners-of-War in Łambinowice-Opole)

73 A witness to the life of the camps at Lamsdorf
A testimony of Jozef Herzog – prisoner in the Labour Camp in Łambinowice, 29th of December 1945. The District Court in Nysa in the person of judge Vladimir Wojtowicza with Tadeusz Kozłowski taking the minutes in the presence of the parties interviewed as follows: Name: Jozef Herzog (aged 56) Names of the parents: Albert and Magdalena, House of Barcz Religion: Roman Catholic (German nationality) Herzog testifies: Starting August 1937, I was busy in Niemodlin as an ordinary laborer until 1939; then I worked as a shoemaker in the camp. This work continued without interruption till the second half of January 1945. The camp in Łambinowice was a military exercise camp, until the outbreak of war in During the war, barracks were built in addition, to which during the war prisoners of different nationalities were brought in. I remember that already in the autumn of 1939, several transports brought Polish prisoners and placed them in camp No. 2 Lager. In the winter of the same year the Polish POWs were taken away, where I do not know, and prisoners of other nationalities were brought in. When the Soviet-German war broke out in 1941, prisoners were imported to the local camp. The transports were frequent, brought more captives, which lasted almost until the end of the war in the spring of 1945. As I have heard, the amount of Soviet prisoners of war was over 10,000, perhaps even more. All the time I worked in a workshop by the camp command post and I had no way to directly see how the prisoners of war were being treated(…). (Central Museum of Prisoners-of-War in Łambinowice-Opole)

74 Lamsdorf Experiences : The Labour Camp In July 1945, the main burial place of the Soviet POWs was discovered. Polish and Soviet medical-forensic commissions carried out investigations. Witnesses were interviewed and exhumations took place. In November 1945 and January 1946 formal funerals took place. Some of this work was done by the Germans who were interned in the Labour Camp that was set up at Łambinowice in It was one of many camps organized in Silesia by the new Polish administration to hold Germans waiting to be displaced to Germany. The camp was located in buildings of the Stalag 344 camp, in the area of Camp I, in its northernmost part. The Labour Camp functioned from July 1945 till October As well as a holding camp for displaced people, it was also used as a labor camp, and as a place of repression. Altogether there were about 5000 men, women, children and elderly people detained, mostly from 30 nearby villages. Among the detained were members of Nazi organizations and guards of the POW camps at Lamsdorf. The hard living conditions they encountered, hunger, an epidemic of typhus, as well as maltreatment they suffered from the Polish camp authorities caused many to die. The deceased were buried in anonymous single or mass graves at the rear of the camp or outside of it.


76 Mass graves of Soviet POWs
(Central Museum of Prisoners-of-War in Łambinowice-Opole)


78 A group of the detained in the Labour Camp in Łambinowice working at the exhumation of the corpses of Soviet prisoners-of-war, August or September In July 1945, in the vicinity of the complex of POW camps of Lamsdorf, mass graves of Soviet soldiers murdered by the German were discovered. The investigation into the crime perpetrated by the German military authorities was undertaken by a Polish-Soviet commission which conducted the works from the summer of 1945 to January According to the findings of the commission, there were about 40 thousand Soviet POWs buried in the cemetery near Klucznik (Kleuschnitz). They had died or had been murdered in Stalag 318/VIII F (344) Lamsdorf. (Central Museum of Prisoners-of-War in Łambinowice-Opole)


80 The Labour Camp for Germans

81 Contemporary witness from the labour camp for Germans: The victims of torture and exhaustion
‘ The guards have beaten with everything: with willow branches, wooden strips... How many people in the barracks remained – I don’t know. Those who managed to sneak out from the barracks they laid everywhere in the square (…) When new transports came they also stood in the parade ground. In the same place there were people beaten during the nights. Early in the morning they washed up the blood so they can have again clean parade ground in the morning. ‘

82 This collection is part of the unit “Internment without a trial: Examples from the Nazi and Soviet regimes”

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