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A Brief History of Oflag 64
 

Drawing by Jim Bickers

Oflag 64 was a World War II German prisoner-of-war camp for American officers located at Szubin, Poland, which at that time was occupied by Nazi Germany. It was probably the only German POW camp set up exclusively for U.S. Army officers,  although other camps holding several nationalities were usually divided into separate national compounds.


The camp was built around a Polish boys' school by adding barracks. Initially it was Stalag XXI-B for Polish soldiers until December 1940. Then it became Oflag XXI-B for French and British officers, subsequently for Soviet officers until June 1943. At that time they were all moved out to other camps, the Commonwealth flying personnel to Stalag Luft 3 Sagan, others to Oflag XXI-C Ostrzeszów.


On 6 June 1943 the camp was redesignated Oflag 64. It became an American officers camp with the arrival of about 150 officers captured in the North Africa Campaign in Tunisia. In addition to the  ground force officers, there were also a few aviators and a few enlisted men held at the camp.


Over the next year and a half the camp grew in size until on 21 January 1945, the roll call established a total of 1,471 men. Because of German concerns over approaching Soviet troops, all the men capable of walking were marched out toward Germany. The senior U.S. officer was Lt. Col. Paul Goode.


Two days later, on 23 January 1945, the camp was liberated by the Soviet 61st Army. Still at the camp at that time were approximately 150 Americans, medical personnel and patients, and a few men who had hidden in an abandoned escape tunnel. An additional 200 men had escaped from the marching column and had returned to the camp.


The group that marched out of Szubin reached Oflag XIII-B at Hammelburg on 10 March. They marched through snow and bitter cold for almost 2 months, covering nearly 400 miles. About 400 escaped on the way or dropped out, too weak to march. A number were shot. Part of the group, including Lt. Col. Goode, were again marched out from Oflag XIII-B to Stalag VII-A, Moosburg, where they were finally liberated by units of the U.S. 14th Armored Division on  29 April (three weeks after Hammelburg had been liberated by the same unit).


Those who had stayed at Oflag 64 experienced considerable difficulties. The Soviets who had “liberated” them wanted to hold them hostage until all Soviet POWs in camps behind Allied lines were repatriated. Under the command of Col. Frederick Drury the group finally reached Odessa, Russia and were evacuated on a New Zealand ship, HMNZS Monowai.


Personal accounts of many of these events can be found in “POW Stories” in the Archives section of this web site.


A much more detailed history of the camp can be found on Ed Marek’s “Talking Proud” web site.  Click here to go to his site.