Description[edit | edit source]
Following the invasion of Poland in 1939 and the establishment of the Reichsgau Wartheland, Poznań became the administrative centre of 'Wehrkreis XXI' (Military District XXI). Some of Poznań's eighteenth century forts were used as prison camps. Most notorious of these was the concentration camp, Fort VII, which was predominately used to house Polish prisoners. Some other forts, along with labour camp locations in the surrounding countryside, were used to hold PoWs. These collectively formed Stalag XXI-D and accommodated just over 3000 prisoners in total.
Camps[edit | edit source]
In Poznań itself, three forts were used to house PoWs; Rauch, IIIA and VIII. On the eastern, right, bank of the River Warta, near to the present day St. Roch bridge, stood Fort Rauch, the most southern of the right bank fortifications. Although partially demolished during the 1920s, it was used to accommodate about 750 men. An ICRC report of August 1941 described the fort as being “a circular building, made of red brick with three floors each with its windows facing an interior court which acts as the hub of the fort. There is no overcrowding and the rooms are not so large that they become noisy when filled with prisoners.” Prisoners lived in many of the 50 basement rooms of the brick built redoubt, with 30-46 beds per room. Other rooms were used as a common room and theatre. After the war Fort Rauch was completely demolished and a college now stands on the site.
Further to the north-east, Fort IIIA (Fort Prittwitz) was used to hold Gaulist French soldiers. In 1993 Fort IIIA was converted for use as a crematorium. It is set in what are now grounds of the Milostow cemetery, which contains graves and memorials to Poznań's many war dead.
Of the west, left bank forts, Fort VIII (Fort Grolman) was also used to house British and French prisoners.; The fort still stands, located to the south of Stadion Miejski, home to Lech Poznań football club. Coordinates:
Work camps were established in a wide area in and around Poznań. These included; Working Camp 4, Ostrowo  Krotoszyn d14; Kuhndorf (possibly located at or near Sołacki Park renamed 'Kuhndorfpark' during the occupation in the Niestachów, Jeżyce area of north west Poznań.); XXI-D/Z Schildberg June–December 1943  (about 130 km south-west of Poznań), XXI-D/Z Montwy September–December 1943 (near Hohensalza  about 107 km north-east of Poznań), and even as far away as Litzmannstadt/Łódź (Lodz) about 200 km to the east and closer to Warsaw than Poznań. Despite the distance, administration of the work camp at Łódź fell under Stalag XXI-D for part of the war. One group of PoWs were billeted in a disused textile dye works and worked in engineering workshops under the control of the German Ordnance Corps, supplying repair services for the Russian Front. This Ordnance Corps was known as H.K.P 20 (translated as Rearguard Vehicle Repair Park). The German Army training area at Warthelager a few miles north of Poznan, was the location of a PoW working camp between July 1940 and June 1942. Initially a sub-camp of Stalag XXI-B, by September 1941 became camp 11 of Stalag XXI-D. Prisoners moved between three locations within a few kilometres during that period, including a disused Polish Cavalry stables. Prisoners worked, for example, filling bomb craters.
Timeline[edit | edit source]
- June 1940 - August 1940 Stalag XXI-A/Z based at Poznań.
- Stalag XXI-D established 1 August 1940.
- Early March 1941 Ronald Littledale, Michael Sinclair and Gris Davies-Scourfield arrived at Fort VIII in a party of about 400 officers.
- 28 May 1941 Littledale, Sinclair and Davies-Scourfield escaped from Fort VIII in a handcart of rubbish, hiding in a rubbish pit outside the camp but were subsequently recaptured and sent to Oflag IV-C at Colditz Castle.
- 4 Oct 1941 - Allan Wolfe, 6th Royal West Kents, captured at Doullens, placed in solitary confinement at Fort Rauch for one of three failed escape attempts.
- 12 May 1942 Murder of Sapper Alexander.
- 1942? - Allan Wolfe escaped while working on a road, walked to Czechoslovakia and remained there until liberated by the Russians.
- March 1943 - Funeral of Rifleman Cecil A. Ponsford KRRC, allegedly shot for persistent whistling.
- 31 March 1943 - Ellis Phythian of the Cheshire Regiment, captured at Tournai in May 1940, escaped from a working party, stowed away on a train to Nancy and returned to the UK via the Pyrenees into Spain in July 1943. He was awarded the DCM in December that year.
- April 1943 - Administration of H.K.P. 20 Lodz transferred from Stalag XXI-A to XXI-D.
- June 1943 - December 1943: Camp at Ostrzeszów (Schildberg) administratively transferred to Stalag XXI-D from Stalag XXI-A (remainder transferring to Oflag XXI-C).
- 15 July 1943 Shooting of two escaping prisoners of war at Working Camp 4 (making a rifle range), Ostrowo. One prisoner, Acting Able Seaman Esrom May of Point Rosie, Newfoundland, died of his wounds but the other, a Scottish private in the Gordon Highlanders, John Stewart, recovered.
- circa 1943(?) - weak beer supplied to replace contaminated drinking water. Stolen Radio concealed in barrel.
- 16 April 1944 Shooting of Fusilier Rigby and wounding of other prisoners of war.
- June 1944 - H.K.P. 20 Lodz physically relocated to Stalag 344 (Stalag VIII-B).
- PoWs were moved out before the advancing Red Army eventually took the town at the Battle of Poznań in 1945.
Notable Prisoners[edit | edit source]
- Gris Davies-Scourfield
- Hugo Ironside
- Ronald Littledale
- Michael Sinclair
- James Oswald Noel Vickers
- Peter Conder
- Horace "Jim" Greasley
See also[edit | edit source]
References[edit | edit source]
- Eric T. Reeves (12 December 2005). "Into captivity, Abbeville 1940 - 1945". WW2 Peoples' War. BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/68/a7724568.shtml. Retrieved 29 August 2010.
- Bill Forster (24 November 2005). "The Diary of Alan Forster, POW 3921, Stalag VIIIB (October 1944 — May 1945) Part 2". WW2 Peoples' War. BBC. http://www.bbc.co.uk/ww2peopleswar/stories/73/a7257873.shtml. Retrieved 29 August 2010.
- Forum post by "Azer" (June 25, 2005). "[Poznań] Zdjęcie satelitarne centrum miasta Archive - SkyscraperCity" (in Polish). [Poznań] Archive Satllite photos of the city centre - SkyscraperCity. http://www.skyscrapercity.com/archive/index.php/t-226219.html. Retrieved 13 September 2010.
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- Ronald B. Littledale (1946). "Escape to Freedom" (PDF). Kings Royal Rifle Corps Association. http://www.krrcassociation.com/archives/lt_col_r_b_littledale_dso_escape_to_freedom.pdf. Retrieved 31 August 2010.
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- "WO 311/964 Murder of Sapper Alexander at Stalag XXI D, Posen, Poland, 12 May 1942". Records created or inherited by the War Office, Armed Forces, Judge Advocate General, and related bodies. The National Archives. http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/catalogue/displaycataloguedetails.asp?CATLN=6&CATID=8803284. Retrieved 8 September 2010.
- Christopher Palmer. "Rifleman Cecil A. Ponsford. Army, Kings Royal Rifle Corps". The Wartime Memories Project - The Second World War. http://www.wartimememoriesproject.com/ww2/thosewhoserved/p-ww2.php?pagenum=4. Retrieved 6 September 2010.
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[edit | edit source]
- "Stalag XXID". Pegasus Archive. http://www.pegasusarchive.org/pow/cSt_21D.htm.
- "George Wyatt". Pegasus Archive. http://www.pegasusarchive.org/pow/george_wyatt.htm.
- "Stalag 21d". Wartime Memories. http://www.wartimememories.co.uk/pow/stalag21d.html.
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