The evacuation of Stalag Luft 7, Bankau Germany



The evacuation of Stalag Luft 7, Bankau Germany


Describes events after the German authorities announced that prisoners from a number of camps in the east would be moved to other areas of the Reich. Due to lack of transport, prisoners would be required to walk. Describes events at Stalag Luft 7 leading up to the evacuation on 1945-01-19.

Temporal Coverage



Two page handwritten document


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[underlined] Evacuation of Stalag Luft 7. Bankau. Germany. [/underlined]
As appeared in “the camp” a weekly paper published in Berlin. “We are informed that the occupants of the prisoner of war camps at Sagan Bankau Gross Tychow, Thorn, Marienburg, Stargard & Schlesien have been removed to other parts of the Reich away from the danger area. On account of transport difficulties British war prisoners had to cover part of the distance on foot. We trust this news may serve to reassure prisoners of war in other camps.”
Just a small paragraph which does not mean much to the casual reader, but the hardship suffered by the prisoners on the road will remain with them forever. In the following pages I will endeavour to relate the facts & difficulties suffered by myself and the other 1500 British prisoners of war who left Bankau in the early hours of Friday morning 19th January 1945 for a destination unknown.
The scene [deleted word] opens at Bankau on the morning of 17th
Everyone going about in his normal way till 11.15 when the camp was told to be (ready in an hour) that it was marching. We knew the reason. The Russians had started a big push & we were to be removed “from the danger area. Everyone was in a panic. In [deleted word] my hut 49/2 everyone dressed themselves in as much clothes as could be worn. Personal effects well packed in bags, cases or the last resort blankets. Then came the food. We lived in confines of four and the Red Cross food which we had in store was divided as equal amongst us as possible, some being eaten I had a slice of bread spread hurriedly with margarine and a mixture of salmon jam, & Jerry molasses on top. The rest of the camp was in a turmoil. Every store had been raided from the food to the sports store. We obtained potatoes marg [indecipherable word] & immediately prepared a soup or stew, containing the latter plus four tins of bacon, which when ready was eaten very hurriedly. The hour passed by & so did the next 9 still no more or signs. Night came & went and I went to sleep in all my clothes, being positive that I would be awakened at some ungodly hour during the night. The next day came as usual & we had rations issued for the first three days of the march. They were 1/8 packet of honey 1/3 loaf of bread, 1/8 block of margarine & 1/4 of a tin of meat. There being packed into our packs. I was still wearing all the clothes I possessed & all I was taking on the march was two blankets, saxophone, shaving kit, soap [deleted words] books & a ball.
Evening came again [deleted words] we were told we would be moving soon. There had been much activity along the road outside the barb [sic] wire. Evacuees crowded the road on foot, bikes & horse drawn carts. The mighty German Army was also using the horse as a mode
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of transport During that day Russians & Jerry aircraft had a do almost over the camp which caused much excitement as we thought Joe was closer than he really was.
When darkness fell [deleted word] I still found myself in the same room & the same faces around me. At 2000 hours another stew was on the stove, but was interrupted by the Russians Our camp air raid siren started singing & in a second the camp was in pitch darkness. I heard the drone of planes & the rumble as bombs exploded. Joe’s boys were making a mess of another of Jerry’s diminishing airfields. Then came two bright flashes and two loud shouts. Two bombs fell less than 1000 yds from the barracks. The barracks shook from the blast & silence reigned for the moment in the barrack. I think everyone thought that they themselves had been hit. The drone disappeared & the lights came on again. I had my bowl of strew & then went to bed fully dressed. The lights were on most of the night but I managed to sleep. At 0100 hrs on the 19/1/45 the Germans came through the barracks & told us we were moving at 0300 hrs. I stopped in bed until I was eventually awoken about 0400 hrs. I had laid awake part of the night wondering if Joe would come before we moved, but alas he never. It was bitterly cold outside and the wind was blowing a gale. after waiting on the parade ground for quite a while we filed through the main gate of the Stalag and we at last moving westward. Flashes could be seen in the east & many guesses were made to what they were. Evidently they were the artillery of the Russian advance forces.
The progress along the road was slow. The road was very slippery and with the wind blowing across the road walking was made difficult. Evacuees, & the Germany army were also evacuating. Bicycles, horse drawn carts being the main mode of transport. Kreuzburg was the first large town we passed through. and after another six kilometres we had a 15 minute rest. By this time the packs we were carrying be getting heavy and much personal gear was discarded, here. I had my first meal. A slice of bread and bully beef. 15 minutes up and off we went again. Along the mile the column stretched was evidence of the first rest. Much stuff had been left, including a piano accordian. The Jerry guards picked up much of this and carried it on the bikes or on their wagons for the rest of the journey. Konstadt was



“The evacuation of Stalag Luft 7, Bankau Germany,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed April 17, 2024,

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