Survival at Stalag IVB

Soldiers and Airmen Remember Germany’s Largest POW Camp of World War II

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About the Book

In addition to concentration camps, World War II Germany was also home to 54 prisoner-of-war camps, the largest of which was Stalag IVB. Throughout the more than five years of its existence, Stalag IVB supported numerous satellite camps, eventually housing thousands of prisoners of many nationalities. Here Poles, French, Belgians, British, Americans, Dutch and Russians fought to survive in a place where life’s most basic needs were barely fulfilled. Interned in the camp for several months from late 1943, Tony Vercoe engaged in a struggle for life, sanity and escape.
This historical chronicle evokes the heartbreaking reality of day-to-day life in Stalag IVB. Rich with firsthand accounts by the author and other veterans of the camp, it provides particulars regarding rations, prisoner-of-war registration, camp hygiene, inmate activities and prisoner morale. Special emphasis is placed on the role of the International Red Cross in prisoner survival and the multinational “melting pot” characteristics of the camp itself. Possibilities of flight and the events that motivated prisoners’ daring escape attempts are discussed, along with the consequences of their frequent failures. Closing chapters detail the camp’s final months and the prisoners’ long awaited deliverance.

About the Author(s)

Tony Vercoe is also the author of Yesterday’s Drums, an account of his World War II experiences. He lives near Wellington, New Zealand.

Bibliographic Details

Tony Vercoe
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 212
Bibliographic Info: 60 photos, notes, glossary, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2006
pISBN: 978-0-7864-2404-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1379-6
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgment      s vii
Preface      1
Introduction      3

1. M. Stammlager IVB      7
2. Babbelfest      18
3. The Commissariat      31
4. A Half-Life      41
5. Words and Music      52
6. A Secret War      67
7. Doug’s Story      74
8. The Escape Imperative      100
9. Discipline/Punishment/War Crimes      118
10. Bartering and Bribery      126
11. Stranger Than Fiction      132
12. The Satellite Camps      143
13. In Limbo      158
14. Deliverance      169

Glossary      183
Chapter Notes      187
Bibliography      193
Contributors      195
Index      197

Book Reviews & Awards

“excellent…a must…interesting”—The Wairarapa Times-Age.