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Pirschjaeger
08-14-2005, 11:25 AM
POWs in post-war Britain

In 1946, the year after the end of World War Two, more than 400,000 German prisoners of war (POWs) were still being held in Britain, with POW camps on the outskirts of most towns. Clement Attlee's post-war government deliberately ignored the Geneva Convention by refusing to let the Germans return home until well after the war was over.

During 1946, up to one fifth of all farm work in Britain was being done by German POWs, and they were also employed on road works and building sites. Fraternisation between the soldiers and the local population was strictly forbidden by the British government, and repatriation progressed extremely slowly. Then the ban on fraternisation was finally lifted - just in time for Christmas 1946. In towns across Britain, many people chose to put the war behind them and invite German POWs to join them for a family Christmas - the first the men had experienced in years.

In Oswaldtwistle in Lancashire, one Methodist minister, Mr Howe, asked his congregation whether they'd like to invite a German POW to their homes for Christmas day. The response was warm-hearted and generous. Sixty POWs found themselves in private homes that day.

Mary Clarke, who worked at a typewriting bureau in the town, and her family took in two prisoners. As did Fred Haworth, recently returned from six years in the RAF: 'No-one could speak English, and we couldn't speak German. But we managed, with a bit of sign language and pointing at this and that. Language is no barrier sometimes.'

Ex-POW Heinz Hermann recalls that 'it was wonderful. After all those years of war and captivity, to be in a private home again. Welcomed by good people. It was a beautiful Christmas Day, which I'll never forget 'til the day I die.' Heinz's mother in Germany was surprised and touched to receive food parcels sent by English friends Heinz had made in Oswaldtwistle.

Staying on

Bert Trautman was another young POW at the time, but went on to settle in England and become a celebrated goal keeper for Manchester City: 'I was brought up under Hitler and I volunteered, like many others, at 17. When I became a POW I was a boy of 22. Not yet a man. I think my education began in Britain, because people understood the predicament we were in. I think the English showed something of forgiveness. You know: "The war is over, you are POWs, and we understand how you feel" '.

By the end of 1947, around 250,000 German POWs had been repatriated, but 24,000 decided to stay in Britain. Hans Siegfried Vallentin was one of these. Like many of the others, he'd been a keen supporter of Hitler. He'd even lied about his age to get into the Luftwaffe. He was only 17 when he was shot down and taken prisoner. But now, three years later, he didn't want to go back home. He'd fallen in love with Irene, a local Oswaldtwistle girl. They still live in Oswaldtwistle and have five children, eleven grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

The last German POWs were repatriated in November 1948. Many had arrived in Britain as Nazis. Now they were going home hoping to build a new, democratic Germany.


I got this from the BBC online and thought it was an interesting read. It sort of reminds me of the WW1 story about the soldiers from both sides climbing out of the trenches to celebrate Christmas together. To the politicians, this was a bad thing.

Fritz

Philipscdrw
08-14-2005, 12:25 PM
The difference is, the 1914 Christmas England-Germany Football Game was in the middle of the war, but Christmas 1946 was eighteen months after the war had ended and after we (the UK) had taken bloody vengeance for all the things Hitler had done to us...

Pirschjaeger
08-14-2005, 12:59 PM
Originally posted by Philipscdrw:
The difference is, the 1914 Christmas England-Germany Football Game was in the middle of the war, but Christmas 1946 was eighteen months after the war had ended and after we (the UK) had taken bloody vengeance for all the things Hitler had done to us...

http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/blink.gif I'm not sure what your point is.

The reason I posted the story was because it was a nice one in my opinion. I saw it as somewhat of a happy ending and also felt this story represents one of my views; War is between politicians and the nations are the pawns/tools/victims.

If this thread turns into anything other than a good discussion with positive views I'll be the first to ask the mods to lock it.

Fritz

DeerHunterUK
08-14-2005, 01:27 PM
My Grandfather was 1 of the 24,000. He was captured in North Africa and was brought to Britain as a POW. He stayed after the War and settled on the south coast and met my Grandmother, the rest as they say is history.

ploughman
08-14-2005, 02:32 PM
I watched a show last year about Monte Cassino. One of the German Paratroopers interviewed had a thick Geordie accent which I found immensely bizarre. He was captured and was one of the 24,000.


Out of interest, how many Axis prisoners stayed on in other Allied nations? Many Axis prisoners were sent to the Canada, the USA, Oz, and SA etc.

p1ngu666
08-14-2005, 03:24 PM
ive seen that one with the funny accent http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif

i imagine moving 100,000s of people about was a massive undertaking, and alot of germany was in ruins aswell, no infrastructure either..

arcadeace
08-14-2005, 03:50 PM
Originally posted by Pirschjaeger:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Philipscdrw:
The difference is, the 1914 Christmas England-Germany Football Game was in the middle of the war, but Christmas 1946 was eighteen months after the war had ended and after we (the UK) had taken bloody vengeance for all the things Hitler had done to us...

http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/blink.gif I'm not sure what your point is.

The reason I posted the story was because it was a nice one in my opinion. I saw it as somewhat of a happy ending and also felt this story represents one of my views; War is between politicians and the nations are the pawns/tools/victims.

If this thread turns into anything other than a good discussion with positive views I'll be the first to ask the mods to lock it.

Fritz </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Its an interesting post Fritz, I thought it was nice too tho the BBC should've explained with more sensitivity of the day. Its very understandable they were held throughout '46. The remainder of the article was excellent. The bottom line is it shows what many Germans thought of England after living there.

Here's some info I dug up on German POWs in America. Frankly I'm very surprised estimates of numbers go this high.

America provided POWs foods like fresh milk, eggs, and meat that were rationed. There was even a beer ration. This changed for the German POWs after VE Day. But they were still well fed. As reports of Japanese treatment of prisoners reached Americn soldiers, American combat soldiers were sometimes brutal with the few Japanese soldiers that surrendered, but once in camps the treatment was correct.

Most estimates that I have seen place the number of prisoners of war in the U.S. in the range of 50,000 to 70,000, but one reputable and detailed Website says it was 425,000.

More than 150,000 men arrived after the surrender of Gen. Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps in April 1943, followed by an average of 20,000 new POWs a month. From the Normandy invasion in June 1944 through December 30,000 prisoners a month arrived; for the last few months of the war 60,000 were arriving each month. When the war was over, there were 425,000 enemy prisoners in 511 main and branch camps throughout the United States.

One of the most famous groups of POWs came from the captured-at-sea U-505. Admiral Don Gallery came upon this unfortunate (they already had a "bad luck" reputation in the 2nd U-boat flotilla) submarine off the coast of Africa. He made the first capture at sea of an enemy warship since the War of 1812 The American crew that boarded U-505 managed to capture the now famous Enigma machine, the super secret German military encoding device.

In order to keep this fact secret, the U.S. Army Provost Marshall's office kept the German crew completely isolated and incommunicado for the remainder of the war-no mail in, no mail out, complete censorship and separate quarters.

berg417448
08-14-2005, 03:57 PM
POW camp census in America:

http://uboat.net/men/pow/pow_in_america_stats.htm


I once visited the old POW camp in Crossville TN.

Xiolablu3
08-14-2005, 05:21 PM
Originally posted by DeerHunterUK:
My Grandfather was 1 of the 24,000. He was captured in North Africa and was brought to Britain as a POW. He stayed after the War and settled on the south coast and met my Grandmother, the rest as they say is history.

Wow , thats cool Deerhunter!

So your grandad was in the Afrika Corps? Did he ever meet Rommel or listen to his speeches??

Grue_
08-15-2005, 06:45 AM
The American crew that boarded U-505 managed to capture the now famous Enigma machine, the super secret German military encoding device.

Three years after the brits captured theirs from U110 http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-wink.gif

airdale1960
08-15-2005, 07:08 AM
My grandad worked with German POWS in a work camp in Lufkin, Texas during the war. He drove a mule team bringing logs out of the forrest, after they were cut by the POWs. Several of them stayed and married locals.
P.S.I was told the Englanders captured the first Enigma?

Salfordian
08-15-2005, 08:49 AM
They used to have a nice little display about the POW camp at oswaldtwistle mill, mentioning that christmas and former POWs who stayed. Nice story.

DxyFlyr
08-15-2005, 08:50 AM
There were tons of POW camps all over the US. I understand it was US policy to locate prisoners in similar climates to where they were captured. ...hence many of the Afrika Korps ended up in Texas and Louisiana.

My dad was in a High School band in '43-'46. At Easter and Christmas they would go to the area POW camps (There were several in central Louisiana) and play for the prisoners. Dad wasn't sure if it was some sort of clevor torture or for entertainment purposes. http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_wink.gif

I've visited the remains of a few of these camps. Camp Livingston has some artwork left by Italian prisoners on a concrete wall. Also, there is an impressive conctrete fountain (water feature thing) that they made.

The U505 crew were held at Ruston, Louisiana. There was a largish camp there. I've lost the link, but there used to be a good web site about that one. There were some great stories of a few escapes on that web site.

One escapee ended up tending bar in New Orleans until a jilted lover turned him in. Almost simultaneously, the war ended and the authorities decided he didn't deserve a free ride home. They let him fend for himself.

Here's a link to an interview with a POW who spent time in a number of camps in the US...

Afrikakorps Panzer Veteran (http://www.feldgrau.com/interview1.html)

Nice thread, Pirschjaeger. Thanks for posting that article.

Inadaze
08-15-2005, 09:54 AM
A bit of extra info on one of the guys that stayed -

Bert Trautman played in goal for Manchester City, at first there was alot of resentment at having an German ex- paratrooper on the team, but he soon won over the fans with his skill, and became one of the teams favourite players.

He's particularly famous for the part he played in Man City winning the 1956 FA Cup against Birmingham. 15 minutes from the end of the game he was injured making a save. He continued to play in great pain, making further saves and sealing the win for ManC 3-1. (the days before substitutions I think). Only after the game was it found that he had broken his neck.

He recieved the OBE in 2004.
More info here - http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/3962625.stm

Inadaze

Pirschjaeger
08-15-2005, 10:10 AM
I remember the rescued crew from the Bismarck were detained in Ontario, Canada. Most of them stayed after the war and made their lives there.

My buddy from Mannheim told me about his uncle being captured near the beginning of the war. He was taken to France as a POW and was detained on a French farm and made to work. On the first day he was told by the farm owner there were only two rules on his farm. First, never try to escape;you'll be shot dead. Second, never try anything with the farmer's daughter. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif

He spent the rest of the war working on the farm and had become quite close to the family. For the daughter's birthday he'd bring flowers, ever year. After the war was over they stayed in tight contact. Until two years ago, when the daughter passed away, the former POW had sent flowers every year for her every birthday.

I like these stories because it's so hard to find any positives from a war.

Fritz

Kuna15
08-15-2005, 10:24 AM
Good reading Fritz. Thanks.

DeerHunterUK
08-16-2005, 04:36 AM
Originally posted by Xiolablu3:
Wow , thats cool Deerhunter!

So your grandad was in the Afrika Corps? Did he ever meet Rommel or listen to his speeches??

Unfortunately I haven't seen my Grandad since I was 7 years old (I'm now in my 30's) and that's all I know about him, but yes he was in the Afrika Korps. Oh, I also know that he changed his surname to something a bit more British (just like the royal family) when he decided to stay so I have no idea what my real surname is either.

MEGILE
08-16-2005, 05:10 AM
Cool.
Interestingly enough there was a story in my local paper yesterday about this kind of thing.
It was August 1940 IIRC, 3 He-111s took of from France and headed to RAF sealand in the North West of England.
One of the heinkels was hit over the channel and had to retrun to base, and a second was downed over the coast.
The final heinkel reached its target, and got bombs off destroying a few hangars, but a Spitfire managed to get a few hits, and the bomber was forced to land.

The crew all survived, and were arrested after tea and crumpets http://forums.ubi.com/groupee_common/emoticons/icon_cool.gif
About 10 years ago they returned to the City where they had been shot down and had a drink with the Spitfire pilots from that day back in 1940.

vanjast
08-16-2005, 10:06 AM
Originally posted by Philipscdrw:
The difference is, the 1914 Christmas England-Germany Football Game was in the middle of the war, but Christmas 1946 was eighteen months after the war had ended and after we (the UK) had taken bloody vengeance for all the things Hitler had done to us...

Remember sport it was the British who consolidated the concentration camp - Kimberly, South Africa, 1902/3.
We're not all squeaky clean as we think we are ?? http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-surprised.gif

Philipscdrw
08-16-2005, 10:54 AM
Originally posted by Pirschjaeger:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Philipscdrw:
The difference is, the 1914 Christmas England-Germany Football Game was in the middle of the war, but Christmas 1946 was eighteen months after the war had ended and after we (the UK) had taken bloody vengeance for all the things Hitler had done to us...

http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/blink.gif I'm not sure what your point is.

The reason I posted the story was because it was a nice one in my opinion. I saw it as somewhat of a happy ending and also felt this story represents one of my views; War is between politicians and the nations are the pawns/tools/victims.

If this thread turns into anything other than a good discussion with positive views I'll be the first to ask the mods to lock it.

Fritz </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Sorry, I wasn't very clear. I liked that story, it is heartening. You compared Christmas 1946 to Christmas 1914, and I was trying to say it's easier to forgive someone after you've returned every one of their blows twice than to forget the fight in the middle of a war. The damage that we (Britain) caused Germany in WW2 was far greater than the damage Germany caused us, even if they started the war.

Vanjest, I think I gave you the opposite idea to what I intended! I know Britain has a poor record. The 1945 burning of Dresden and the deliberate decision by Churchill and Harris to target civilian centres were horrific.

Pirschjaeger
08-16-2005, 11:59 AM
With the track record of this forum it's easy to take things the wrong way sometimes. It's like we automatically go on yellow alert when we open the GD site. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-very-happy.gif

I'm trying to get away from those sorts of threads where everyone starts arguing over opinions. http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/blink.gif I would also like to see some more interesting threads; something that is more like sharing information.

Does anyone have any more positive stories about POWs?

Fritz

berg417448
08-16-2005, 12:17 PM
Here is some info on Camp Clinton. It was the place where quite a few German General officers were held:

http://www.kilroywashere.org/004-Pages/JAN-Area/04-D-Jackson-POW.html

NorrisMcWhirter
08-16-2005, 12:26 PM
Hi,

I don't have the book at the moment (and I've slept since so I might be mistaken cos I also know he was sent to Canada) but I think Ulrich Steinhilper spoke of his time in a British POW camp and his relationship with the locals/army in his book 'Spitfire on my tail'. He particularly spoke of the mutual respect between the officers and how he fondly remembered some of the kindness he was showed.

Ta,
Norris

FI-Aflak
08-16-2005, 12:55 PM
Originally posted by Grue_:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">The American crew that boarded U-505 managed to capture the now famous Enigma machine, the super secret German military encoding device.

Three years after the brits captured theirs from U110 http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-wink.gif </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Which was a while after the british, american, german, etc. mathamaticians broke the enigma at Blechley.

The whole hunt for the enigma machine was pointless, but was given attention because the germans might have realized that their code was broken if we didn't look for it.

The reputation the enigma enjoys is as much allied propaganda as german propaganda. The code was broken by the boys at Blechely park, but if word got out that we were reading their messages, the germans would have changed codes thus eliminating a hugely valualble (perhaps the most valualble) source of intel we had, so the allies did their best to appear perplexed by the enigma.

Zyzbot
08-16-2005, 01:26 PM
Originally posted by FI-Aflak:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">Originally posted by Grue_:
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-title">quote:</div><div class="ip-ubbcode-quote-content">The American crew that boarded U-505 managed to capture the now famous Enigma machine, the super secret German military encoding device.

Three years after the brits captured theirs from U110 http://forums.ubi.com/images/smilies/16x16_smiley-wink.gif </div></BLOCKQUOTE>

Which was a while after the british, american, german, etc. mathamaticians broke the enigma at Blechley.

The whole hunt for the enigma machine was pointless, but was given attention because the germans might have realized that their code was broken if we didn't look for it.

The reputation the enigma enjoys is as much allied propaganda as german propaganda. The code was broken by the boys at Blechely park, but if word got out that we were reading their messages, the germans would have changed codes thus eliminating a hugely valualble (perhaps the most valualble) source of intel we had, so the allies did their best to appear perplexed by the enigma. </div></BLOCKQUOTE>


Don't forget that in addition to the Enigma machine around 900 pounds of codebooks and publications were also removed from the submarine. These certainly would have proven valuable.

Aaron_GT
08-16-2005, 02:35 PM
Clement Attlee's post-war government deliberately ignored the Geneva Convention by refusing to let the Germans return home until well after the war was over.

Hardly. Germany was shattered and it was a huge logistical exercise to deliver nearly half a million POWs to a shattered country without causing massive problems of housing and starvation. As it was the UK increased its rationing to be able to send massive food aid to Germany.

However, after complaining about that point I'd agree that the point is that those who stayed around in the UK probably helped to heal the wounds. Mixing of nationalities (pen friends, holidays, emigration and immigration) helps.

Aaron_GT
08-16-2005, 02:38 PM
The whole hunt for the enigma machine was pointless, but was given attention because the germans might have realized that their code was broken if we didn't look for it.

The point was the search for the code books to see how the rotors were set, and to ensure that the Enigma machines being used by the Kriegsmarine were wired in the same way (there was always a possibility of some small but subtle custom change).

Aaron_GT
08-16-2005, 02:40 PM
He spent the rest of the war working on the farm and had become quite close to the family. For the daughter's birthday he'd bring flowers, ever year. After the war was over they stayed in tight contact. Until two years ago, when the daughter passed away, the former POW had sent flowers every year for her every birthday.

Nice story.