Home > (Polski) Obóz i muzyka > STALAG VIII A – the former international POW camp

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The POW camp Stalag VIIIA (main camp for captived crews and NCOs) was in the time of World War II in today’s Zgorzelec (formerly eastern part of Görlitz).

First, they wanted to build the camp in Reichenbach / Oberlausitz, but it was decided to build it in Görlitz, 10 km away. In 1939 there were in the Lower Silesia region three main camp:  in Görlitz the camp VIII A, in Lamsdorf (Łambinowice) VIII B and Sagan (Zagan) VIII C. Three other Stalags were built in the coming years. The camp in Görlitz existed until May 7, 1945. The Stalag VIII A included the following counties: three in the Sudeten-Braunau, Trutnov, Vrchlabí, Rothenburg, Bunzlau, Habelschwerdt, Reichenbach, Jawor, Hirschberg, Glatz, Luban, Lowenberg, Neumarkt , Strehlen, Schweidnitz, Waldenburg, Frankenstein, Görlitz and Goldberg.

The Stalag VIII A was located near a military training ground of the Wehrmacht. The soldiers could keep watch and help in case of an uprising.  At first, the prisoners were housed in the transit camp at the Leopold Straße (ul Lubańska.). There they slept in tents. During the day they built barracks in Görlitz-Moys. One wanted to accommodate there 3,000 ‘fixed’ prisoners and 200 service people. But sometimes resided there more than 15,000 persons.

In the minor camps beside were: Bathhouse, Post office, sanitary barracks, prison, disinfection barrack.

In the main camps were: Barracks (first timber later brick barracks, Dimensions: 30m x 10.6m x 10m), two kitchens (one separate for Soviet POWs), Criminal barracks, Canteen, Theater barracks, library, Public toilets (latrines), chapel, Sports ground.

Into the camp led two entrances, one eastern and the western gate. The gates were under electricity, which was signaled by warning signs. The barracks were made of 25cm thick bricks and had a flat saddle roof, which was covered with roofing paper, and tile floors. In the newly constructed warehouse at the beginning mainly Polish soldiers were housed. They represented a huge majority of 10,000 prisoners of the Görlitz NZ camp.

From spring to June 1940, the majority of the Polish prisoners were transferred to other concentration camps in the west of the Reich. In summer, Belgian and French troops (20,000) were housed in the Görlitzer Stalag. In May 1941, about 2,300 Yugoslav prisoners of war came also into the camp. In January 1942 arrived the first transport of Soviet prisoners of war, whose number rose to 20,000 until September 1943. In the autumn of 1943 the British were added as a new nationality in Stalag.  At that time the inhabitants of the British Isles, New Zealand, Australia and South Africa have been counted thereto (a total of 3,000 soldiers).

After the fall of Benito Mussolini and the conversion to Italy’s anti-Hitler coalition over 6,000 Italian prisoners arrived at the camp. 1944 came insurgents into the camp: soldiers of the Warsaw Uprising and Slovaks who participated in the Slovak National Uprising. In January 1945 1.800 Americans came to Zgorzelec which were transferred from other NZ-camps. On 10 February 1945, the main camp was evacuated for a large part. The prisoners marched on foot every day up to 30 km. The path led to Meissen, where the first prisoners arrived after one week and crossed under difficult conditions the Elbe River. There the prisoners from Lamsdorf and Görlitz were divided into two groups: at the camp still remained many Soviet prisoners, 217 Polish soldiers from Tangerhutte, prisoners who took part in the Slovak insurrection, a French penal company, a Yugoslav penal command as well as smaller groups of prisoners of other nationalities.

On May 7, 1949 the last -three days lasting-  evacuation of prisoners of war took place on foot. The Soviet Army liberated these prisoners on the territory of Czechoslovakia. In the camp remained only a part of seriously ill prisoners.

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