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The Diary of Alan Forster, POW 3921, Stalag VIIIB (October 1944 — May 1945) Part 7.

by Bill Forster

Contributed by 
Bill Forster
Article ID: 
Contributed on: 
25 November 2005

Continued from A7283702

19 January - 28 February 1945

Alan was one of some 100,000 allied prisoners of war plus some two million Russians being marched west away from the advancing Soviet forces but this was dwarfed by the flight and expulsion of some nine millions Germans living in the Czech Republic and Poland. They too were ultimately victims of Nazi racial policies.

Stalin’s eviction of some two to three million Poles living in what is now Belarus, Ukraine and Lithuania to Pomerania, Silesia and Prussia combined with the mass deportation of the intellectual elite of the three Baltic states to Central Asia in the aftermath of the war made this one of the greatest mass migrations in history.

“Post war Europe was faced with tidal waves of refugees.”
Europe; Norman Davies. Oxford University Press, 1996

Each Stalag was responsible for co-ordinating the movement of POW at the outlying Arbeitkommandos as well as those at the main camp. In the case of Stalag VIIIB / 344 Lamsdorf (Polish Lambinowice) they took a northerly route via Dresden whilst those at Stalag VIIIB Teschen (Polish Cieszyn), which lay some hundred miles to the east, took a southerly route through the German occupied Czech Protectorate (Bohemia and Moravia) to Bavaria. E702 Klimontow and other Arbeitskommando linked to Stalag VIIIB Teschen took the southerly route.

The Vojensky Ustredni Archive in Prague contains the detailed plans made by the German authorities for the movement of 6,000 British and 58,000 Soviet prisoners of war through the Czech Protectorate, commanded by the head of POW camp VIII/B Teschen, Col. Thielebein. They were to follow separate routes and march in columns of 1,500.

Provision was made for accommodation:

“The BdS [commander of the security police] has ordered district captains to cooperate with the advance detachments of the leader of the march block and provide accommodation and straw in advance. The accommodation provided should be occupied successively by subsequent march groups. They are also responsible for the provision of warm meals and coffee. It is suggested that it will be appropriate to man each accommodation with one reliable NCO and 3 men until the last march group has passed through.

Under no circumstances should any larger towns be occupied.”

And for the supply of rations, medical care and security:

“It is of the utmost political importance that the march of the POWs should proceed without incidents and should not unnecessarily attract the attention of the civilian population. The garrison commanders and all official agencies participating in the provisioning of the march units should therefore support the leaders of the groups with all means at their disposal. The civilian authorities have equally been instructed by the German Minister of State for Bohemia and Moravia to provide the same help. The garrison commander should achieve the closest cooperation with these authorities.

The garrisons should actively support local police authorities for the duration of the march by providing patrols in order to prevent any traffic jams or population crowds. The commander of the patrol service shall increase the number of patrols on all march routes.”

They marched in small columns following side roads to villages where they could find accommodation in barns at the end of each day. Some published accounts (Whiteside, 1999) mention that at the end of each day’s march they would identify their billet. usually a barn, by the number of the Arbeitskommando chalked on the door, confirming that they remained in the same working party throughout the trek. Food was sparse, the guards themselves were hungry, and cooked communally. The delivery of Red Cross parcels was disrupted but remained a vital source of additional food (as well as “fags”).

Although Alan recorded the length of each march and the place names where they billetted at the end of each day these names are difficult to identify on modern maps. Apart from occasional mistakes in spelling the German place names have been replacesd by Polish or Czech. In Appendix two I have attempted to identify the current names of the places on the route from Klimontow to Regensburg in Bavaria.


Thursday Jan 18

As Norman and I were peacefully lying about 12.00 listening to the wireless we were rudely disturbed by the door being blown open and the boys told to be ready for a 2.30 am move off. What a night! Air raids off and on, a bomb ten yards from the Lager, all the ......... in hand lobbed out (unequally of course) clothing etc. What a night. We eventually paraded about 7.00 o'clock Friday morning and after being .... warned by Ti...ale that any man breaking ranks would be shot we staggered off on a perfectly horrible march to Dombrowo (which must have been a lovely camp) owing to the snow and too much kit. During the Friday night we made a sledge of sorts for five men. Air raids were constant. If only I'd known what I know now - 9 weeks later - I would have escaped. We were all fools, absolute idiots!

Friday Jan 19

Started on march to Domt..wo. Stayed night, had beds. Rations:- 2K loaf per man, 1K .. per man, 1 parcel per man mixed Xmas and Canadian. Made sledge for five of us.

Saturday Jan 20

To Beuton - a school - very cramped, 50 men per small room. 40K

Sunday Jan 20

To Gleiwitz - school - also bad about 150 to room. Rations:- 5 pks Knacherbrot [dry crisp bread e.g. Ryvita] per man 2 K tins meat between 3. 20K

Monday Jan 22

To barn near Heidrechtstadt - bad - got roused out about 2 am. Joe was within 10K off and we didn't know. Dumped blanket, kit and sledge. 2 others carried on with it. 20K

Tuesday Jan 23

Forced march to first ladder barn bad although still very cold - all ... together. First not the .... 40K

Wednesday Jan 24

To second ladder barn at Guad ..f Good billet, made lamps, still plenty of room, very cold, fine snow. 20K

Thursday Jan 25

Neudorf. Very cold. Got bombed. Village full of troops. Hot water from kitchen. 34K

Friday Jan 26

Posnitz (?)
Barn off the Jugensdorf road. ...guard for a a bit of bread for soap not bad billet. Had shave and wash. 15K

Saturday Jan 27

To Wechen. Quite good. Made first fire and cooked tin of corned beef in stew. Hot water from kitchen.

Sunday Jan 28

Rest. Brewed up and tried to keep warm all day. Had custard drink.
Rations:- four packets biscuits per man, 1 lb sausage, ... of very ... and spoon of sugar. ... of meat from ...

Monday Jan 29

To farm. Had big ..... ..........
.......... 20K

Tuesday 30 Jan

......... Heavy bombing amongst hills. Big place. Very uncomfortable ........ collecting .........

Wed 31st Jan

.... Not quite so cold. All ..... collected together here. Water difficult ... to dip in well with bucket. Collecting wood for fire ....

Thursday 1st Feb

Rations:- old loaf between 10 ... loaf between 7 (both 2K) 2 pks biscuits between 5 (20 per man) ..........

Friday 2nd Feb

................. 24K

Sat Feb 3

To Rabemdorf. Got split into two parties then as we settled got thrown out of billet and made to .... Bad fire. Made stew again. 25K

Sun Feb 4

To Blauda. Not bad. Good fire. Made last stew. Hard march again. Slept badly. Got up at 7 and made hard and strong tea. Good. Very hungry. Now waiting rations. 20K

Mond 5 Feb

Rest. Tomali checked up on ....... Sitting starving here. Total distance to date stands at 328 K
Ration:- 2K bread per man, 1/2 smoked ..., 1/2 sausage, spoon sugar, 1 lb marge beteen 7. ...(1K) between1!

Tues Feb 6

To Neider [Nieder, lower] Hermanitz.
Mild weather, very wet and ...
Yesterday got about 3K bread.

Wed Feb 7

To Rathsdorf. Very wet. Good billet. Good spuds. Excellent fire. Pity we couldn't stay some time. 25K

Thurs Feb. 8

To Wilderschaut
Crossed Czech Protectorate at 11.00. Very bad billet.
Had to chop down trees for wood. Windy wet and cold.
Definitely bad place. 12K

Friday Feb 9

Rest. Awaiting rations. 2K loaf between 4

Sunday Feb 11

Rations. 1k per man small portion of meat marge and honey, sugar.
Marched off at 9.30 to Chotzen. 16K
Best billet yet. Soap issue good made an excellent one ourselves. Bread again per man. Buckshee electric light all night - in short an hotel. Raw meat issue about 1/4 lb.

Monday Feb 12

To Ceberjellen. Boiled meat - good. Very warm billet but poor contact. Notable because we came out of the hills and all is flat. Good going now. 17K

Tuesday Feb 13

Rest. Some extra bed from ... but very little. A few spuds. No fires allowed now - boilers instead. Good issue of excellent sausage about 1 lb or so per man for 4 days its sad.

Wed Feb 14

To Bycsta (?). Very cramped quarters. Some spuds given. 14K
A good march rain having cleared roads entirely of snow.
To date 432K.

Thursday Feb 15

To Patowitz-an-die Elbe. Crossed the river at 10.10. This place is a village 2K from it and 11K from the town of Konigsgratz which has been bombed for the two previous nights. We hear we are to stay in this woefully overcrowded barn for a period of 3-5 days - I hope to God this isn't true! 13K
More or less good trench fire until the Feld [-webel, NCO] finds out about it I suppose!

Friday Feb 16

Rest. Rations:- 1K bread per man, sugar 1/2 lb marg 4 men, dried spuds, cabbage ..., 1/2 meat (raw) per man, 1/4 flour, salt, coffee,

Sat Feb 17

To Leibca.
Good day dry hard roads at last.
Amazing tobacco issue - 3 men to a packet of real German stuff - roughly 20g each. No fires - no cooking big barn! 16K

Sunday Feb 18

To Unter Gutwasser.
Fair barn. Made communal soup.
Good march cold and dry with ... excellent road. 14K

Monday Feb 19

Rest. We made a good communal soup and had quite a decent day. Weather bright and clear with a warm sun.
A Dondrowo [?] chap was shot whilst attempting contact.

Tuesday Feb 20

To Aulibitz. Rations were issued before we started - 1/2 smallish 2K loaf per man. About 1 oz cheese (good) marg 2 1/2 ozs a little honey. Rest consisted as last time of meat flour dried veg potatoes and macaroni, sugar salt. From midday yesterday until midday tomorrow. 18K

Wed Feb 21

To Uber Bousow. Bad billet. No dry wood for boiler. Arrived at 2.00 after a hellish long march round and about. 35K

Thurs Feb 22

Rest. Rations for six days. 2K loaf per man + 1/5 or so. Other rations in usual proportion but remaining on wagon.
Another good soup today.

Friday Feb 23

To a village Rep by a big town called Jugessbunslau. Arrived to find boilers lit and a big billet. Didn't start til 9.00 and arrived at 12.00.
14 K

Saturday Feb 24

To Kropatsch Urutitz (?).
In a brick factory. Very bad although warm. No boilers, not even water. There appears to have been some mistake made. We were not expected.
29 K To date 571 K

Sunday Feb 25

Rest. Two soups up today. We had to use all meat rations as they were going off. Contacted 4 K bread for 2 g tin Players and 10 fags. Place is dusty but warm and dry. Quite prepared to stay here for as long as Jerry likes. Electric light all the 24 hours. ...

Monday Feb 26

To Tunsein. Bad - very.
Everything gets worse, every day we notice a new weakness and loss of physical recuperative powers. 20 K

Tuesday Feb 27

To Ilosein. Good billet. Very warm and beautifully warm. Not a bad march although rather black looking. 14K

Wednesday 28

Rest. Rations: 3K loaf between 3. Sausage about 1/4 between 4. Sugar a spoon. Other rations square of cheese roughly 1/4 oz each. A 1 lb marg between 4. Small quantity honey. Day rations and meat left for communal soup. Had quantities of roasted maize all day very good!

Continued on A7290957

Return to "CONTENTS" page on A7280291

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