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Stalag Luft I
Barth, Western Pomerania
Type Prisoner-of-war camp
Coordinates Latitude: 54.3736
Longitude: 12.7086
In use 1940-1945
Controlled by  Nazi Germany
Garrison 900 officers and men
Occupants RAF and USAAF POWs

Stalag Luft I was a German World War II prisoner-of-war camp near Barth, Western Pomerania, Germany, for captured Allied airmen. The presence of the prison camp is said to have shielded the town of Barth from Allied bombing.[1] Approximately 9,000 airmen (7,588 American and 1,351 British and Canadian) were imprisoned there[2] when it was liberated on the night of 30 April 1945 by Russian troops.[3]

Camp history[]

The camp was opened in 1941 to hold British officers, but was closed in April 1942, when they were transferred to other camps. It was reopened in October 1942, when 200 RAF NCOs from Stalag Luft III were moved there. From 1943, American POWs were sent to the camp.[4]

Commanders[]

  • Oberst Hartwig von Winckler, Mar. 40 to June 40
  • Major Roland von Oertzen, June 40 to May 41
  • Major Burkhardt, May 41 to Apr. 42
  • Oberst Willibald Scherer, Oct. 42 to Jan. 45
  • Oberst Warnstadt, Jan. 45 to Apr. 45

Evacuation[]

On 30 April 1945, the prisoners were ordered to evacuate the camp in the face of the advancing Soviet Red Army, but refused. After negotiations between the Senior American Officer and the Kommandant, it was agreed that to avoid useless bloodshed the guards would go, leaving the POWs behind. The next day, the first Russian troops arrived.[4] Between 13–15 May, the camp was evacuated by air in "Operation Revival". The British POWs were returned directly to England, while the Americans were sent to Camp Lucky Strike[5] north-east of Le Havre, France, before being shipped back to the United States.[6]

Notable prisoners[]

  • Nicholas Alkemade, RAF rear-gunner who survived a fall of 18,000 feet (5,500 m) without a parachute when his aircraft was shot down in March 1944.
  • Bernard Barker, United States Air Force bombardier, later famous as a Watergate burglar.
  • Jimmy Buckley, British Fleet Air Arm pilot and escape organiser (known as "Big X" — note that a character in the film The Great Escape is also so named, but has a different fate).
  • Roberta Cowell, RAF fighter pilot, and later the first British person to undergo Sex reassignment surgery
  • Harry Day, British Royal Air Force Wing Commander and Senior British Officer at this and numerous other camps, survivor of the "Great Escape".
  • James 'Dixie' Deans, RAF sergeant and World War II bomber pilot, guided 2,000 Allied POWs across Germany in what was known as the "Long March".
  • Marvin "Sonny" Eliot, USAAF B-24 bomber pilot, later weatherman on WWJ (AM) 950 in Detroit, Michigan. Eliot did weather reports on both TV and/or radio since just after returning home from World War II.[7]
  • John Fancy, British, RAF air observer/navigator whose tunneling escapes from various German prisoner of war camps during the war earned him the nickname "The Mole", and inspired the book and film The Great Escape.
  • Augustine Fernandez, career officer in the USAAF, bombardier in the B-17, author of the book POWerful memories.
  • Bill Fowler, RAF pilot who later escaped from Oflag IV-C (Colditz Castle).
  • Frank E. Funk, American navigator, 772nd Squadron, 463rd Bomb Group, 15th Air Force. Parachuted out of sabotaged B-17 on his seventh mission. Later dean of University College at Syracuse University, 1970-1988.[8]
  • Gabby Gabreski, top American fighter ace in Europe during World War II, a jet fighter ace in Korea, and a career officer in the USAAF with more than 26 years service.
  • Charles Ross Greening, an American bomber pilot who participated in the Doolittle Raid.
  • Jimmy James, 9 Sqn RAF pilot and survivor of the "Great Escape".
  • Nicolas Koskinas, Greek, Hellenic Air Force fighter pilot; became chief of the Hellenic Tactical Air Force Command in 1967.
  • James "Cookie" Long, 9 Sqn RAF pilot, later escaped from Stalag Luft III in "The Great Escape", but recaptured and shot by the Gestapo.
  • R.A. "Bob" Hoover
  • John C. Morgan, ex-RAF bomber pilot and USAAF B-17 pilot, the only Medal of Honor winner to become a POW in World War II.
  • Brian Paddon, RAF pilot who later escaped from Oflag IV-C (Colditz Castle).
  • Donald Pleasence, later known as an actor in such films as You Only Live Twice and Halloween. He also had roles in both The Great Escape and The Great Escape II: The Untold Story.
  • John T. L. Shore, 9 Sqn RAF pilot, successfully escaped from Stalag Luft I, via 'blitzkrieg' tunnel under incinerator, on 19 Oct 1941 and made a home run to England via Sweden.
  • Joseph E. Smith, RAF pilot, survivor of several escape attempts and later a director of NHS Scotland.
  • Hubert Zemke, career officer in the USAAF, fighter pilot in World War II, and a leading USAAF ace.
  • Roy Wendell, PR director for Fairchild Republic Co., developed PR strategies for A-10 Warthog, B-1 Lancer
  • Hugh Lake Jameson, B-17 pilot who had played center for Clemson on the first Cotton Bowl (American football) game. His footlocker left behind in England was recovered by family members in 2012
  • Robert J. Duffy, USAAF 2nd Lt. B-24 Co-Pilot from Iowa City, Iowa. Became prominent attorney in Savannah, GA and author of the auto-biography, "Every Step of the Way."

See also[]

References[]

Literature[]

  • Martin Albrecht, Helga Radau: Stalag Luft I in Barth. Britische und amerikanische Kriegsgefangene in Pommern 1940 bis 1945. (English summary) Thomas Helms Verlag Schwerin 2012. ISBN 978-3-940207-70-8

External links[]


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