- Working Parties
- The Long March
- The Clarion
- Lamsdorf.com Shop
- Can You Help?
- Medical Matters
- Help with Research
- Books, DVDs etc
- Lamsdorf Tours
- Recent Additions
- Support this website
- About Us
- Lamsdorf Blog
- Polish Resistance (AK) and POWs
- Copyright of Photographs
PAGES ON THIS WEBSITE ARE FREQUENTLY UPDATED
Stalag VIIIB Lamsdorf was a large, German prisoner of war camp, later renumbered Stalag 344. It is located in Poland near the small town of Lamsdorf (now called Lambinowice) in what was then known as Upper Silesia. Today on the site of the camp is the Polish Central Prisoner of War Museum. The camp initially occupied barracks built to house British and French prisoners in the First World War, but there had also been a prisoner camp during there during the Franco Prussian War of 1870-71.
In 1939 the camp housed Polish prisoners from the German September 1939 offensive. Later more than 100,000 prisoners from Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada, France, Greece, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Poland, South Africa, the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and the United States passed through this camp. In 1941 a separate camp, Stalag VIII-F was set up close by to house the Soviet prisoners.
In 1943, the Lamsdorf camp was split up, and many of the prisoners (and Arbeitskommandos) were transferred to two new base camps Stalag VIII-C Sagan and Stalag VIII-D Teschen. The base camp at Lamsdorf was re-numbered Stalag 344.
The Soviet Army reached the camp on the 17th March 1945.
Later the Lamsdorf camp was used by the Soviets to house Germans, both prisoners of war and civilians. Polish army personnel being repatriated from P.O.W. camps were also processed through Lamsdorf and sometimes held here as prisoners for several months. Some were later released, others sent to Gulags in Siberia.
By 1943, the famous camp for Allied flight personnel in Sagan - Stalag Luft III - had become so overcrowded that about 1,000, mostly non-commissioned aircrew, were transferred to Lamsdorf. A part of Stalag VIII-B was separated by building new barbed-wire fences. Thus a camp within a camp was created. However all food was provided from kitchens operated by army personnel in the camp proper.
The hospital facilities at Stalag VIII-B were among the best in all Stalags. The so-called Lazarett (hospital) was set up on a separate site with eleven concrete buildings. Six of them were self-contained wards, each with space for about 100 patients. The others served as treatment blocks with operating theatres, X-ray and laboratory facilities, as well as kitchens, a morgue, as well as accommodations for the medical staff.
The lazarett was headed by a German officer with the title Oberst Arzt (Colonel Doctor), but the staff was made up entirely of prisoners. They included general physicians and surgeons, even a neuro-surgeon, psychiatrist, anesthesiologist and radiologist.
The 500 or so prisoners who died at Lamsdorf whilst in captivity were first buried locally, but after the war their bodies were moved to Krakow where they were re-buried in the Commonwealth War Cemetery, which is contained within the boundary of the main city cemetery. The graves are laid out traditionally as in all war cemeteries, with names and other details of those buried on the headstones. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission can give details of all who are buried there - or indeed in any of their cemeteries.
THE LONG MARCH (OR DEATH MARCH)
In January 1945, as the Soviet armies resumed their offensive and advanced into Germany, many of the prisoners were marched westward in groups of 200 to 300 in the so-called Death March. Many of them died from the bitter cold and exhaustion. The lucky ones got far enough to the west to be liberated by the American army. The unlucky ones got "liberated" by the Soviets, who instead of turning them over quickly to the western allies, held them as virtual hostages for several more months. Many of them were finally repatriated towards the end of 1945 though the port of Odessa on the Black Sea.
Please click HERE for more on the Long March.
THE HISTORY OF THE CHANGES IN THE NUMBERING OF STALAG VIIIB AND STALAG 344
(from the work by Frantisek Mainus)
The history of the numbering of Stalag VIIIB can cause confusion for anyone seeking information on Second World War prisoners held in “Stalag VIIIB”. The camp at Lamsdorf was numbered Stalag VIIIB from early in the war. Many thousands of prisoners passed through this camp. In May 1941 a camp numbered Stalag VIIID was set up at Teschen (Cesky Tesin), on the Polish/Czech border. (On this site there were old buildings which were used in World War I as a hospital. The Czechoslovakian army later used the buildings and in 1938 the Polish army used them. In September 1939 the German army occupied Cesky Tesin and used the site as garages for military vehicles). This Stalag, together with its Arbeitskommandos, was responsible for housing about 7000 prisoners, mainly French, but also Belgian and Yuogslavian with a few British. It was joined to Stalag VIIIB (Lamsdorf) in September 1942 as a kind of "branch" camp and was then called VIIIB Zweilager Teschen. By 1943 this "enlarged" Stalag VIIIB handled some 120,000 prisoners in the camps and its many associated Arbeitskommandos.
This situation existed until towards the end of December 1943. The camps at Teschen and Lamsdorf (with associated Arbeitskommandos) were then "separated" and the number Stalag VIIIB was applied to the Teschen camp and Lamsdorf became Stalag 344. The Teschen camp was a camp to which many of the prisoners from the invasion of Normandy and later captures were sent and was responsible for handling about 70,000 POWs, most of whom were out at Arbeitskommandos. It is important to bear in mind that many early prisoners, e.g. men from Dunkirk, North Africa etc. were sent to Lamsdorf when it was VIIIB. Post 1943 references to Stalag VIIIB may relate to Teschen. Unfortunately, not everyone realised that there had been a change, or, if they did, they didn't worry too much about it and continued to refer to Lamsdorf as VIIIB. In your search for information it is easy to be confused if you get information about the "wrong" VIIIB. In practice, many (most?) prisoners were not physically at the Lamsdorf or Teschen camps but were out at Arbeitskommandos administered from these camps. These Arbeitskommandos were numbered, usually with a letter as a prefix, e.g. E902, which was a coal mine at Hindenburg (now Zabrze) in Poland administered from VIIIB Teschen. Most of the Arbeitskommandos administered from VIIIB Teschen were in the industrial areas of Silesia, Poland and near Teschen, as well as Katowice, Bytom and other industrial areas of Poland
Timetable of name changes:
Early in War: Stalag VIIIB established at Lamsdorf, near Opole.
May 1941: Stalag VIIID established at Teschen.
September 1942: Stalag VIIIB and Stalag VIIID combined; VIIID was called Stalag VIIIB Zweilager Teschen and Lamsdorf remained VIIIB.
End December 1943: Stalag VIIIB Lamsdorf and VIIIB Zweilager Teschen separated. The stalag at Teschen became Stalag VIIIB and Lamsdorf became Stalag 344.
January 1945: Both evacuated on the “death march” to the west, through the winter of 1945, ahead of the Russian advance. (Camps and their many associated Arbeitskommandos were evacuated).
With thanks to many sources, including Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
This plan has been kindly supplied by John McSorley, son of David McSorley (see the 'Names' page).