Hello! I saw mention of Stalag VIIIB on your website.
During the past few years I have become involved in taking former prisoners of war, and relatives of former prisoners of war, back to the site of Stalag VIIIB in Poland, and also to Krakow where many of those who died there are buried. I run a small, special-interest travel company, specialising mostly in pilgrimages and archaeology tours, but became involved in Stalag VIIIB through an old friend (now 89) who was there, and I have just returned from our third trip. We expect to have a fourth trip next year.
One aspect of this involvement is that many former prisoners and relatives have sent me accounts of their (or their fathers') experiences, along with photos and other souvenirs. There is a Prisoner of War Museum at Lambinowice (Lamsdorf) where Stalag VIIIB was, though because in 1945 the Russians destroyed all of the British section of the camp, they are a bit short of information about the British experience, even though there were about 40,000 men there at one time. Of course, there were about 100,000 Russians, and others too. The Museum has a film/video/dvd that they show visitors about the history of the camp, but it doesn't have much about the British experience. I have decided that we will make a documentary about the British at Stalag VIIIB, in conjunction with 6th form students at a local school who are doing a media-studies A-level course. We want to concentrate on daily life in the camp, and also the march westwards at the end. We already have video interviews with four former prisoners, as well as lots of other written material, photos etc, but would certainly like more. We will have much more than we can use, but the more we have to choose from, the better our account will be.
We want to make the resulting dvd available to the Museum at Lamsdorf, as well as anyone else who wants it.
I wondered if any visitors to your website would be willing for us to consider using some of their material, perhaps including photos (if any)? Full credit will be given, of course.
Perhaps some of them have visited the site in Poland? The whole area is now wooded, and the guide from the Lamdsorf Museum told us that the only thing remaining from the British area of the camp is a concrete water tank. However, the 'guard' (the site still belongs to the Polish Military - but he was a chap on a bike wearing a t-shirt and baseball cap!) said he knew of something else. He took us deep into the woods that cover the site of the former British camp and eventually we came upon something that looks like a huge concrete swimming pool, complete with steps at one end and a sloping bottom, with shallow and deep ends. Very big. In fact, he said, it was a reservoir, but used as a swimming pool by the British inmates. Completely surrounded by trees now and very overgrown. The Museum guide, Anna, said she hadn't know it was there! Next to it is a small brick building with a well inside.
There is nothing on the spot to commemorate the place where the British pows were. We are going to donate a plaque to the Museum for them to put beside the little road that leads through the area just to let visitors know where they are, and to commemorate all those British servicemen who were there. (When I say British, I do include the Commonwealth servicemen too, and others such as Americans and other Europeans etc who were serving with or alongside the British forces).
One of the most moving moments in our tour was when we were shown the station where prisoners were unloaded, before having to walk the last mile or so to Stalag VIIIB. It's really just a platform in a field by the track, in the middle of nowhere. It looks just the same as it did in the 1940s, apparently. Anyway, we were preparing to get back on the coach to travel to the museum when a lady in the group said she wanted to walk the last mile, just as her father had done - and so in the end virtually the whole group did the walk, including the guide who said she had never done that before. For three of the former prisoners it was the second time they had done it (one was in a wheelchair). The fourth former pow was not well enough and stayed on the coach.
With very best wishes,
Camino Journeys Ltd
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