German POWs in Britain: 1945 Onwards

Watch and ponder –

(2/5) Timewatch the Germans we Kept World War II

With the wars end many prisoners were soon on their way back home but a program of re-education was devised to supposedly prepare the prisoners for a new life in a different Germany. The full horrors of the Holocaust were put on show and one prisoner who was at the time a hard-line Nazi remembers that many of his comrades did not believe that the Holocaust had taken place thinking it was British propaganda designed to shame the German people even more….

….  This process of re education determined whether a prisoner would be sent home early or not and interviews took place to determine the prisoners attitude. Many who at first showed contempt for the British realized that the war was now over and the only way to secure their release was to change their attitude. Many did and the first repatriations took place in 1946. Some were less flexible however and at these interviews (which took place every six months) would show their loyalty to the Nazi regime by marching in to the interrogation room and giving a Nazi salute to the British officer present which would mean further six-months in captivity. Among Waffen SS prisoners this was common and later after the Nuremberg trials when the Waffen SS was deemed a criminal organization many prisoners were held for longer periods simply for being a member of the Waffen SS. The last prisoners repatriated, took place in 1949 but many prisoners did not want to return to Germany as their hometown was in the Soviet sector and fearing another spell of imprisonment in Soviet hands, decided to stay in Britain where they became known as “DPs” or displaced persons. Others married local girls and stayed in Britain where many still live today with the girl they married over fifty years ago. The opportunity to meet local people was given to the German POWs after the war where Christmas would be spent with a local family and regular visits would be made to present local children with toys that had been carved from wood during their spare time. By all accounts there was little animosity towards the German prisoners who by this time had become a familiar sight in several towns ad villages in Britain.


* =World War II: Prisoners of War – Full Documentary

* = Hürtgen forest and the end of World War II | Free Full DW Documentary

…Thousands of soldiers were killed in the last battles of World War II. US troops who fought in the Hürtgen Forest nicknamed it the “Death Factory.” This documentary features original  film from US archives that bring the battle back to life. It’s estimated that as many as 30 thousand US and German soldiers were killed in fighting in the northern Eifel region of Germany in the autumn and winter of 1944 and 1945. Traces of the battle – old bunkers, munitions, trenches and tank tracks – are still visible even today. The scarred landscape bears witness to a little-known chapter of World War Two. The “Hürtgen Forest” was the last obstacle standing between US forces and the Rhine River and Ruhr. Yet the decision to advance into the thick forest in September 1944 proved to be a fatal mistake. The Americans completely miscalculated North Eifel region’s rugged terrain. They became disoriented in an area the German forces, the Wehrmacht, had crisscrossed with trenches and peppered with anti-personnel mines, making the wood into a veritable fortress. Continual rain and fog, followed by snow and frigid temperatures, turned the battle into a scene of dystopian butchery. Author Ernest Hemingway spent 18 days on the front in the Hürtgen Forest. He wrote later, “It was a place where it was extremely difficult for a man to stay alive even if all he did was be there.” This documentary reconstructs the stages of the battle using commentary from survivors of the clash. Among them are the well-known US photographer Tony Vaccaro, US Army veteran James K. Cullen and former Wehrmacht soldier Paul Verbeek. In addition, Hürtgen Forest residents tell of the legacy of the battle, including the threat posed by countless unexploded munitions left in the ground 75 years after the conflict in Europe ended.


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2 responses to “German POWs in Britain: 1945 Onwards

  1. Chandra Wickramasinghe

    Thanks Mike. Rehabilitation! They were productively employed in reconstruction work and on farmlands.What high altruism!

  2. Pingback: Colossal Kills on All Fronts in 1944/45, World War II | Thuppahi's Blog

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