Stalag 383 Bavaria
...a History of the Camp, Escapes & the Liberation, from Pen & Sword
Title: Stalag 383 Bavaria
Author: Stephen Wynn
Publisher: Pen & Sword
A history of the camp, life over several years and the liberation. A POW camp for Warrant Officers and NCOs, rather than for Officers, who would have been in on Oflag rather than a Stalag, camp 383 was at Hohenfels, in Bavaria.
The story of the camp is spread over 8 chapters, and does include a useful explanation of the German POW camp numbering system. Many of the prisoners in the camp had been captured early in the war, some at Dunkirk in 1940 and still more from Crete in 1941. Many of these men endured 5 long years in captivity. Some of the elements of camp life sound relatively comfortable, with a regular supply of Red Cross parcels to supplement their diet, though this was virtually stopped near the end of the war. There is detail of the various plays and musicals they put on to entertain themselves, along with a mix of sports, and educational possibilities. There was even a swimming pool, well, it was used as such. One or two things, such as the such as the availability of photographs, with the knowledge of their captors, might come as a bit of a surprise. One particular aspect of the story is how the author has investigated some of the recorded names to try and identify just which prisoners are referred to in things like the cast of various plays, and the connections with home that many made through the formation of special clubs. While there were not apparently large numbers who died while in captivity, they are included and the camp was finally liberated by US troops at the end of April 1945.
Not all POW camps were the same, maybe not the fame of Colditz, or the mass escape from Stalag Luft III (the Great Escape), but an interesting account of captivity for those troops who had to endure captivity for as long as 5 years from their capture while with the BEF in 1940. It also considers the effects on those individuals when they are finally able to return home to their families after so long away.
Thanks to Pen & Sword for our review copy.