Monday, 17 November 2014

Altengrabow prisoner-of-war camp Stalag XI-A

Stalag XI-A, also known as the Altengrabow prisoner-of-war camp or Stalag 341, was a prisoner of war camp in World War Two. The camp was based in Dörnitz, Saxony-Anhalt.

Previous to World War Two, the camp was actually a military training area and had been so since 1893. In World War One the camp was converted into a prisoner of war camp known as Dörnitz Altengrabow holding some twelve thousand prisoners, after the end of the First World War it was back to normality as a training camp.

Right at the outset of World War Two the area became a prisoner of war camp again, initially called Stalag XI but quickly renamed to Stalag XI-A.

The camp was solely used as a place for prisoners taken from Allied forces and at the start of 1945 there were sixty thousand prisoners registered there.

Operation Violet was undertaken by the Allies on the 25th April 1945. Operation Violet was an airborne operation where men were dropped to free the camp into Allied hands, unfortunately the outcome was that the soldiers were captured themselves and interned in the camp.

Commandant, Col. Ochernal, the German in charge of the Stalag XI-A camp was urged by the prisoners of war to open up a radio link with the Allies. Stalag Commandant, Col. Ochernal did open up dialogue and allowed Allied forces to come and take the prisoners. Evacuation started with many prisoners being moved out, however the Russians were not happy with Polish prisoners being extradited to the West and gave the Allied forces two hours to collect belongings and be moved to the American area.

After this the Russians took control of the camp and after the war used the camp for the headquarters of a tank regiment up until 1990.

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