Stalag Luft IV
Stalag Luft IV was situated approximately two and a half miles south of Kiefheide in Pomerania sector of Germany. It was activated in April, 1944, but was never actually completed, despite German effort, due to the pressure of the war. The first group of prisoners were transfers from Stalag Luft VI at Hydekrug in East Prussia. The majority of them were American, bur also included were 800 R.A.F. non-commissioned officers. From that day in April, the flow of Kriegies was heavy until, upon evacuation, they numbered almost 10,000, a number far in excess of that for which the camp was designed. There was continuous construction in the camp, both indoors and out. Indoors, the prisoners were trying their utmost to make their meager quarters more habitable and outdoors, the Germans were feverishly working to complete additional barracks. The camp was set in a forest clearing about one and a half miles square. That particular forest was chosen because the dense foliage and underbrush served as an added barrier to escape. There were two barbed wire fences ten feet high completly surrounding the camp. Rumor had it that the outer fence was electrically charged, but we can`t vouch for that, and had no desire to test it.
Between the two fences was another fence of rolled barbed wire four feet high. An area 200 feet deep, from the fence to the edge of the forest was left clear, making it necessary for anyone attempting escape to traverse this area in full view of the guards. Fifty feet inside the wire fences was a warning wire. A prisoner could expect to be shot first and then questioned if he stepped over this wire. Posted at close intervals around the camp were towers which were equipped with several powerfull spot lights and bristled with machine guns. The railroad station was named Grosstychow, and the camp was south of the Baltic Sea where the meridiams cross on the globe at 54` and 16`.
The camp was divided into four separate parts with guard dogs and towers all around. I was assigned to D compound, where the rooms were about 16 by 23 feet and housed 25 prisoners. Every week we received half of a Red Cross package. The total weight of a package was eleven pounds. We were also given a pail of potatoes that when divided up gave each of us 2 or 3 potatoes for the day. Sometimes we were given soup. At other times we got dehydrated sauerkraut, but as hungry as we were , we just could not eat it. I spent Christmas in that camp, and we did receive a whole Christmas parcel. Some of the fellows even put on a Christmas show. We didn`t have to do any work in camp. In fact, there was nothing to do but lay around hoping the 644th was giving them hell, and that we would be out of there soon.
On Feb.6, 1945, 10,000 Air Corps prisoners of war left Kiefheide, Germany and Stalag Luft IV at 10:00 a.m. to march from the German and Russian battle zone. We marched 636 kilometers in all in 51 days. While marching we were liberated by American troops of the 104th Division on April 26, 1945.
----- By Jack Deuitch, submitted bby "Big0410"
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Biography of Jack Deuitch, S/Sgt, Gunner, 644th Bomb Sqdn, 410th Bomb Group, 9th AF, USAAF
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