Lamsdorf – Stalag 344


In southwestern Poland there is a small community called Lambinowice (german Lamsdorf) where the Germans placed one of the larger prisoner of war camps. The camp was originally established during the French-Prussian war between 1870 – 1871 for French prisoners of war. During the first world war, it was again used for prisoners of war taken by Germany. When the second world war broke out, the camp was designated Stalag VIII-B. After Germany attacked the Soviet Union in June 1941, the camp was divided into two parts where the new part was intended for Soviet prisoners of war and was designated Stalag VIII-F. The first (soviet) prisoners of war arrived already in July 1941 long before the camp was completed. The prisoners were forced to dig burrows with their bare hands where they could crawl together to survive.

Throughout the camp’s existence, Soviet prisoners of war were forced to perform slave labor for various mining industries and agro-industries. In June 1943, the camp became part of a major prisoner of war camp and was named Stalag 344. In the same year, a camp was established within the camp called Stalag Luft VIII-B and was intended for Allied pilots deported there from the overcrowded Stalag Luft VIII-C. As the Soviet red army approached in January 1945, the germans began to evacuate the camp and the prisoners were sent to other camps. The camp was liberated on March 7, 1945. A total of about 300,000 prisoners of war were in the camp, of which about 200,000 were Soviet prisoners of war. Of the Soviet prisoners of war, about 40,000 were buried in a mass grave near the camp. After the war, the camp was used for Germans waiting to be repatriated in Germany.

Current status: Demolished with museum (2013).

Location: 50° 34' 07.70" N 17° 33' 33.39" E

Get there: Car.

My comment:

Unlike the British and American prisoners of war, where officers and non-officers were put in different camps (Stalag and Oflag respectively), this division of the Soviet prisoners of war did not take place. The British and American were not used to the same extent for slave labour, even if there were some activities in the camps. The Soviet prisoners of war, on the other hand, were exploited to the maximum as slave workers. Since the Soviets had not signed the Geneva convention, the germans felt that they did not have to take into account the laws of war with regard to the Soviet prisoners of war. Of the scarce six million Soviet prisoners of war taken by the germans during the war, about 60 percent died. The Germans pursued a deliberate strategy of annihilating the Soviet prisoners of war, mainly through slave labour.

The corresponding figure for British and American prisoners of war is that of about 230,000 prisoners died about 8,000, or about 3.5 percent. Of the former camp’s about 20 barracks, there are both ruins and foundations left and it is today a museum. Reconstructed is a watchtower and camp gate. However, it is located a little apart about three kilometers north of Lambinovice in a wooded area, but once there it is interesting to walk among the ruins. At the mass graves, 500 meters from the camp, where the Soviet prisoners of war were buried, there is a monument. In Lambinovice there is a modern and interesting museum that informs about the history of all the prisoner of war camps in Lamsdorf.

Follow up in books: Bob, Fedorowich, Kent: Prisoners of War and Their Captors in World War II (1996).