The German system separated officers from enlisted men and sent them out to the various camps, which were know as Stalag Lufts. These airmen's camps were administered by the German Luftwaffe and the Abwehr. Once inside the wire, the new Kriegesgefangene or "Kriegie" was once more among his own. At Stalag Lufts I, III and VIIA, the Senior American Officer (SAO) was in charge. At Lufts VI, IV and Stalag 17b, enlisted airmen elected a Man of Confidence (MOC) as their top man.
In general, the camps were segmented by barbed wire into Compounds, each of which contained Lagers or barracks. These were segmented into rooms which held upwards of 40 men in triple tier wooden bunks. As the number of captured airmen increased, many were forced to sleep on floors. In early February, 1944, the camps were evacuated in the face of the Russian advance. Tens of thousands of prisoners were "On the Road" for periods up to 86 days. Only Luft I remained intact, until liberated in May, 1945.
The story of how Air Corps prisoners organized themselves for survival while in the hands of the enemy, is surely, one of the most unheralded chapters of American history. The 392nd Bomb Group Memorial Association has made every effort to address that deficit, by highlighting the experiences of our Group's airmen and providing support for their narratives with maps, photos, diaries and documents to supplement them.
Dulag Luft Practically all Air Force personnel captured in German occupied Europe passed, was composed of three installations: the interrogation center at Oberusal; the hospital at Hohemark; and the transit camp ultimately in Wetzlar.
Auswertestelle West (evaluation Center West) was situated 300 yards north of the main Frankfurt-Homburg road and near the trolley stop of Kupforhammer. (this was) the third- stop after Oberusal (50-12 N - 8-34E). Oberursel is thirteen kilometers northwest of Frankfort am Main.
The number of PW's rose from 1000 per month, in late 1943, to an average monthly intake of 2000 in 1944. The peak month was July 1944, when over 3000 Allied airmen and paratroopers passed through Auswertestelle West. Since solitary confinement was the rule, the capacity of the camp was supposedly limited to 200 men; although in rush periods five PWs were placed in one cell. Strength on any given, day averaged 250.
Stalag Luft 1 Stalag Luft I was located two miles northwest of the village of Barth, Germany, on the Baltic Sea. The first Allied prisoners entered the camp on 10 July 1940 (French and British POWs). The German garrison left the camp several days before the arrival of Soviet forces on 2 May 1945. The POWs were evacuated by 8th Air Force B-17s on 12-13 May 1945.
Early in 1944 the camp consisted of 2 compounds designated as South & West compounds , containing a total of 7 barracks, in which American officers & British officers and enlisted men were housed. A new compound was opened the last of Feb. 1944 and was assigned to the American officers who were rapidly increasing in number.
Stalag Luft 3 Until 27 Jan. 1945, Stalag Luft 3 was situated in the Province of Silesia, 90 miles southeast of Berlin, in a stand of fir trees south of Sagan (51º35'N latitude, 15º19'30" E longitude).
In the January exodus, the South Compound & Center Compound moved to Stalag 7A, Moosburg (48º27'North latitude - 11º57'East longitude). The West Compound & North Compound moved to Stalag 13D, Nurnerg-Langwasser (49º27'N latitude, 11º50'E longitude) and then proceeded to Moosburg, arriving 20 April 1945. Initially a camp for RAF officers, by Jan. 1945, American airmen numbered 6,844. It had become the largest American officers' camp in Germany.
Stalag Luft 4 The camp was located at Gross Tychow, Pomerania, 20 kilometers southeast of Belgard (53-55 N, 16-15 E). Opened in early May of 1944, only one compound was finished when the original cohort of allied airmen NCO's arrived. This camp would swell its ranks from 1500 to nearly 10,000 airmen by January of 1945.
Stalag Luft 6 The camp was located outside the Prussian town of Hedekrug (now Silute, Lithuania); 55/21 N 15/19 E. Initially known as Stalag 331, construction began in 1941 to house prisoners from Belgium and France. Soviet prisoners began to arrive and eventually dominated the camp. By June 1943, new barracks had been built and the camp was renamed Stalag Luft 6. British and Canadian NCOs from Stalag Luft I arrived from Barth in June 1943, followed by American airmen in February 1944.
Stalag 7a Moosburg (48 / 27 North Latitude, 11 / 57 East longitude) is 35 Kilometers northeast of Munich. It had been a camp for Air Corps NCO's until 13 Oct. 1943. All 1900 were transferred to Stalag 17B, in Krems Austria. Ground force POW's, captured in Africa and Italy, were sent here before being routed to permanent camps. As Germany collapsed in the spring of 1945, it became the final gathering place for 8000 Air Corps officers and 7000 enlisted men moved from other camps.
Stalag 13d This camp was located at the site of the infamous Nuremburg rallies. Within 3km of a major rail marshalling yard (49/42 N 11/12 E), it became subject to damage from allied bombing raids. From the invasion of Poland in 1939 until late 1943, the camp held large numbers of prisoners from all the occupied territories. Some were captured POW's but many were civilian interned for work details. Both groups were subject to forced labor. Stalag XIII D (Nuremberg-Langwasser) became the temporary assembly point for contingents of Allied airmen evacuated from Stalag Lufts 3 and 4, in February of 1945.
Stalag 17b Stalag 17B was situated near the village of Gniexendorf, which is six kilometers northwest of Krems, Austria (48-27N - 15-39 E). The camp itself was in use as a concentration camp from 1938 until 1940, when it began receiving French and Poles as the first PWs.
On 13 October 1943, 1350 non-commissioned officers of the Air Force were transferred from Stalag 7A to Stalag 17B, which already contained PWs from France, Italy, Russia, Yugoslavia and various smaller nations. By January 1944, the strength had increased to 2667. From then until the last days of the war, a constant stream of NCOs arrived from Dulag Luft and strength reached nearly 5000, in spite of protestations to the detaining Power about the over crowed conditions. The entire camp contained 29,794 prisoners of war of various nations.