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In late April 1945, close to the end of the Second World War in Europe, the government of Nazi Germany ordered that a number of high-profile prisoners should be moved to Tyrol, away from the advancing Western Allies. Eventually the inmates were liberated from their SS guards by regular German troops.

Transfer and liberation[]

On 17, 24 and 26 April 1945 141 prisoners from Dachau Concentration Camp were transferred to “Arbeitserziehungslager Reichenau”, Innsbruck, Austria. But the camp was not prepared to keep the prisoners. Instead the prisoners were sent to a hotel near Niederdorf/Hochpustertal 70 km northeast of Bozen, Italy where they arrived on 28 April.

The transport, which was composed of trucks and old buses, was guarded by several dozen troops from the SS and SD. On board were the camp's most important and prominent prisoners as well as family members of the 20 July plotters. The officers in charge, Obersturmführer Edgar Stiller and Untersturmführer Bader, had orders to kill all the prisoners if in any fear of capture.

Contrary to expectations, the Pragser Wildsee Hotel was unavailable as it was being used by three German Wehrmacht generals. A delegation from the prisoners' committee—that included Colonel Bogislaw von Bonin who had been imprisoned for allowing a retreat on the Eastern Front—made contact with the Wehrmacht HQ in Bozen and made known the identity of the high-status prisoners and the fear that they were to be executed before liberation by US troops.

A message was sent to Wehrmacht troops at Sexten 17 km east of Niederdorf commanded by Captain Wichard von Alvensleben, who decided to come and protect the prisoners with his soldiers.

On 30 April against the background of advancing US troops and Alvensleben’s unit, which had now surrounded the village, the SS guards decided to escape.

The free prisoners were then accommodated at the Pragser Wildsee Hotel until US troops marched into Niederdorf on 4 May.

List of the prisoners[]

(by country)[1][2]

Austria (5)
  • Konrad Praxmarer, author
  • Richard Schmitz, former mayor of Vienna
  • Kurt Schuschnigg, Austrian chancellor
  • Vera Schuschnigg, wife of Kurt von Schuschnigg, and their daughter Maria Dolores Elisabeth both joined the transport voluntarily and were not officially prisoners.[1][3]
Czech Republic (2)
  • Josef Burda, Merchant
  • Jan Rys-Rozsévač, Journalist
Denmark (6)
  • Hans Frederik Hansen, engineer
  • Adolf T. Larsen, Farmer
  • Jörgen Lönborg Friis Mogensen, Vice Consul
  • Hans Lunding, Capt., Chief of Danish Intelligence
  • Max J. Mikkelsen, Merchant Marine Capt
  • Knud E. Pedersen, Merchant Marine Capt.
France (6)
  • Jeanne Léon Blum, wife of Léon Blum
  • Léon Blum, former Prime Minister of France
  • Prince Xavier de Bourbon
  • Armand Mottet
  • Gabriel Piguet, Bishop of Clermont-Ferrand
  • Ray N. Van Wymeersch, Free French Air Force Capitaine
Germany (29)
  • Bogislaw von Bonin, Wehrmacht officer
  • Baron Fritz Cerrini, Private secretary of Prince Friedrich Leopold of Prussia
  • Friedrich Engelke, merchant
  • Alexander von Falkenhausen, General, former military commander of Belgium and France
  • Wilhelm von Flügge, Director of I. G. Farben
  • Prince Friedrich Leopold Prince of Prussia
  • Franz Halder, General, former Chief of the General Staff
  • Gertrud Halder, wife of Franz Halder
  • Anton Hamm, Kaplan
  • Erich Heberlein, Diplomat
  • Margot Heberlein, wife of Dr. Erich Heberlein
  • Horst Hoepner, merchant, brother of General Erich Hoepner
  • Joseph Joos, journalist and politician (Zentrum)
  • Karl Kunkel, Kaplan
  • Franz Maria Liedig, Kriegsmarine officer (Abwehr)
  • Josef Müller, officer (Abwehr)
  • Johann Neuhäusler, Domkapitular
  • Martin Niemöller, Pastor
  • Heidel Nowakowski
  • Horst von Petersdorff, Wehrmacht officer
  • Prince Philipp of Hesse, diplomat
  • Hermann Pünder, Officer
  • Hjalmar Schacht
  • Fabian von Schlabrendorff, Ordnance Officer, adjutant of Major General Henning von Tresckow
  • Georg Thomas, General
  • Amélie Thyssen, wife of Fritz Thyssen
  • Fritz Thyssen, businessman
  • Wilhelm Visintainer, cook, inmate of the Dachau concentration camp
  • Paul Wauer, barber, inmate of the Dachau concentration camp
Greece (7)
Hungary (10)
  • Aleksander Ginzery, Col.
  • Josef Hatz, Major
  • Samuel Hatz, Teacher, father of Josef Hatz
  • Andreas Hlatky, Hungarian Secretary of State
  • Miklós Horthy, Jr., diplomat, son of Miklós Horthy
  • General Géza Igmándy-Hegyessy
  • Miklós Kállay, former Prime Minister of Hungary
  • Julius Király, Col.
  • Desiderius Ónody, Secretary of Horthy jr.
  • Baron Péter Schell, Hungarian minister of Interior
Italy (5)
Latvia (1)
  • Gustavs Celmins, Army Reserve Capt.
Netherlands (1)
  • Johannes J. C. van Dijk, Defence Minister
Norway (1)
  • Arne Daehle, Navy Capt.
Poland (3)
  • Jan Izycki, British RAF Pilot Officer
  • Stanislaw Jensen, British RAF Pilot Officer
  • Count Aleksander Zamoyski, major
Slovakia (2)
  • Imrich Karvaš, Governor of Slovak National Bank
  • Ján Stanek, Major
Soviet Union (6)
  • Ivan Georgievich Bessonov, General
  • Victor Brodnikov, Lt. Colonel
  • Fyodor Ceredilin, Soldier
  • Vassily Vassilyevich Kokorin, Lt.
  • Pyotr Privalov, Major General
  • Nikolay Rutschenko, Lt.
Sweden (1)
  • Carl S. Edquist, Director
United Kingdom (14)
Yugoslavia (3)
  • Hinko Dragic, Lt. Colonel
  • Novak D. Popovic, Head of the post administration
  • Dimitrije Tomalevsky, journalist
The Kin Prisoners (37)
  • Fey von Hassell Pirzio Biroli, daughter of Ulrich von Hassell
  • Annelise Gisevius, sister of Hans-Bernd Gisevius
  • Anneliese Goerdeler wife of Carl Goerdeler
  • Benigna Goerdeler, daughter of Goerdeler
  • Gustav Goerdeler, brother of Goerdeler
  • Marianne Goerdeler, daughter of Anneliese and Carl Goerdeler
  • Irma Goerdeler wife of Ulrich Goerdeler, daughter in law of Anneliese and Carl Goerdeler
  • Jutta Goerdeler, cousin of Benigna Goerdeler
  • Reinhard Goerdeler, son of Anneliese and Carl Goerdeler (not at the Pragser Wildsee Hotel)
  • Ulrich Goerdeler, son of Anneliese and Carl Goerdeler
  • Käte Gudzent
  • Franz von Hammerstein, son of Maria und Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord; (not at the Pragser Wildsee Hotel)
  • Hildur von Hammerstein, daughter of Maria and Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord.
  • Maria von Hammerstein-Equord wife of Kurt von Hammerstein-Equord
  • Anna-Luise von Hofacker, daughter of Cäsar von Hofacker
  • Eberhard von Hofacker, son of Cäsar von Hofacker
  • Ilse Lotte von Hofacker wife of Cäsar von Hofacker
  • Peter A. Jehle, (not at the Pragser Wildsee Hotel)
  • Elisabeth Kaiser, daughter of Therese Kaiser
  • Therese Kaiser
  • Arthur Kuhn, lawyer
  • Anni von Lerchenfeld, mother in law of Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg; died in the SS camp in Matzkau
  • Lini Lindemann wife of General Fritz Lindemann
  • Josef Mohr, brother of Therese Kaiser
  • Käthe Mohr wife of Josef Mohr
  • Gisela Gräfin von Plettenberg-Lenhausen, daughter of Walther Graf von Plettenberg-Lenhausen
  • Walther Graf von Plettenberg-Lenhausen, merchant
  • Dietrich Schatz, major, (not at the Pragser Wildsee Hotel)
  • Alexander Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, brother of Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg.
  • Alexandra Schenk Gräfin von Stauffenberg, daughter of Markwart Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg
  • Clemens jr. Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, son of Markwart Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg
  • Elisabeth Schenk Gräfin von Stauffenberg, wife of Clemens Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg
  • Inèz Schenk Gräfin von Stauffenberg, daughter of Markwart Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg
  • Maria Schenk Gräfin von Stauffenberg wife of Berthold Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg
  • Marie-Gabriele Schenk Gräfin von Stauffenberg, daughter of Elisabeth Schenk Gräfin von Stauffenberg and Clemens Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg
  • Markwart Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg (senior), Colonel
  • Markwart Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg (junior), son of Elisabeth Schenk Gräfin von Stauffenberg and Clemens sen. Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, (not at the Pragser Wildsee Hotel)
  • Otto Philipp Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg, son of Elisabeth Schenk Gräfin von Stauffenberg and Clemens sen. Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg
  • Hans-Dietrich Schröder, son of Ingeborg Schröder.
  • Harring Schröder, son of Ingeborg Schröder
  • Ingeborg Schröder
  • Sybille-Maria Schröder, daughter of Ingeborg Schröder
  • Isa Vermehren, Comedian, sister of Erich Vermehren

References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 Peter Koblank: Die Befreiung der Sonder- und Sippenhäftlinge in Südtirol, Online-Edition Mythos Elser 2006 (German)
  2. 'Endgame 1945 The Missing Final Chapter of World War II'
  3. Austrian Requiem

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