World War II prisoner of war camp - Stalag Luft I

Stalag Luft I Online


World War II - Prisoners of War - Stalag Luft I 

A collection of stories, photos, art and information on Stalag Luft I

The POW Stories
The Photos
The Roommates
The Art
The Poetry
The Newspaper
The Interrogators
The Guards
The Russians
The Evacuation
The Return
The Kriegies
Letters From Home
Books & Videos
POW Benefits
POW Medal
Research Tips
Allison's Thoughts
What's New


If you are a former Prisoner of War or a next of kin of a POW, we invite you to sign and leave your email address so others that come may find you. Please mention camp, compound, barracks and room numbers if possible.

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    During World War II approximately 8,939 Allied Airmen ( 7,588 American and 1,351 Royal Air Force ) were imprisoned by the Germans at Stalag Luft I in Barth, Germany.   
     All our lives we knew our father, Dick Williams, Jr. of Eufaula, Alabama, had been one of  those imprisoned at Stalag Luft I, but that was all we knew, until we decided to apply for his Prisoner of War Medal in September 1999. 
James Richard Williams, Jr. - World War II aerial gunner

    He never spoke of his combat experiences in the skies of Europe during World War II, and only rarely of his incarceration in a German prisoner of war camp.

    Our Dad died suddenly 36 years ago (June 10, 1979), taking his memories with him.   As adults our minds were full of questions we could no longer ask.   We turned to the Internet in search of our answers. 

    We would like to share with you what we have learned, as part of our ongoing research, on Stalag Luft I and Prisoners of War in World War II Germany.   What started out as a small 3 page tribute to our father has now grown to over 220 pages.  We hope you will find something of interest to you.

    This website is in remembrance of our Dad, James Richard (Dick) Williams, Jr., of Eufaula, Alabama. During World War II, as a young man, he flew with America's Mighty 8th Air Force.  He enlisted in the Army Air Corps and was sent for training as an aerial gunner to Drew Field in Tampa, Florida and Langley AFB in Virginia.  In July 1944 he was assigned to the 398th Bomb Group, 600th Bomb Squad stationed in Nuthampstead, England as a waist gunner on a B-17G.

Anti-aircraft fire during WWII by Paul Canin

    At this time the men were required to complete 30 missions before being allowed to return home.  But on November 26, 1944 ( his 29th mission ), his plans to return home in time for Christmas came literally to a crashing end.  While flying in the lead, radar equipped (mickey) plane on a mission to Misburg, Germany, shortly after "bombs away", the plane was hit by flak (anti-aircraft fire).

    The pilot left formation as he tried desperately to get the plane under control and make his way back to England. The crew began to jettison everything they could find to lighten the load, but it became apparent that they would not be back in their warm beds in England that night, but rather would be a "guest" of Adolf Hitler's in Germany.  The pilot soon gave the "Bail Out" order and all ten parachuted and landed quite close together near the town of Detmold, Germany.

    They were quickly rounded up by the local townspeople and incarcerated.  After a brief glimpse of each other in solitary confinement at Dulag Luft (the Luftwaffe interrogation center) a few days later, when the doors were opened for a second, Dad never saw or heard from them again.

Click here to read the German eyewitness accounts - received 57 years after the crash! 

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Arrival at Stalag Luft I by Paul Canin


Dad's World War II prisoner of war photo taken at Dulag Luft

Dad's POW photo

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Listed below is an overview of what you can find on each page of our site. 


The POW Stories  - This page contains a collection of true short stories  written by POWs detailing their experiences during World War II, before and after their being shot down and imprisoned.   Some will make you laugh and some will make you cry.  In reading these you are struck by the incredible and horrific experiences of so many in the war and the common exhibition of tremendous personal valor. They are the stories of brave young men who defeated their fear and then defeated the cause of their fear.

The Photos  -
This page has photos taken at Stalag Luft I during World War II and photos from Heinrich Haslob (aka "Henry the butcher"), a German guard's personal photo album. They include photos of the tunnels the prisoners of war dug in escape attempts, the guards at Stalag Luft I, prisoners arriving at the train station, etc.  Also the Wilcox photos, after liberation Ken Wilcox took over the photo lab at Stalag Luft I and shares the photos he found there plus the ones that were taken after liberation.  Stalag Luft I Group Photos - 60 group photo shots taken at Stalag Luft I. 

The POW Roommates - A listing of the Prisoners of War at Stalag Luft I by rooms in the camp.  Note this is not a complete listing and we depend on your information to help complete this page.  Please let us know which compound, barracks and room you were held in.  We would like the names of any roommates that you can remember or have recorded in your YMCA log book.  Please send to us at or inquire where to send by regular mail. Click for South or West Compound  -  North 1 Compound  -  North 2 Compound  -  North 3 Compound

The POW Art - Watercolor drawings, cartoons, sketches and carvings made by the prisoners of war at Stalag Luft I during World War II.

The Poetry -  The poems found in the YMCA Wartime Logs kept by the Stalag Luft I POWs.  Mostly original poetry but the author frequently unknown.  This page also contains a small comic book on Roger Wilco's adventure as a prisoner of war Stalag Luft I .

The POW Newspaper  - POW-WOW (Prisoners Of War - Waiting On Winning) was the secretly printed camp newspaper at Stalag Luft I.   A single page newspaper (front and back) was printed daily and smuggled between barracks in a hollow wristwatch.  It stated it was to be read "silently, quickly and in groups of three".  

The POW Interrogators  - Photos and information on the famous German interrogators at Dulag Luft in Oberursel (the German intelligence center) where captured Allied airmen were sent for interrogation, before being sent to the transit camp at Wetzlar and then on to a permanent (stalag) prison camp. 

The POW Guards - This page has photos and information on the German administration and guards at Stalag Luft I.  Also included is a letter written by the Camp Commandant to his wife in 1944.

The Russians -  The Russians liberated Stalag Luft I on May 1, 1945.  Vasily Bezugly was one of those Russians and this page contains some of his thoughts and remembrances of that period and a few photos of him and his comrades in the "Great Patriotic War" (World War II). Also we have a document from our National Archives describing the address by the Russian Red Army Commander to the people of Barth on May 9, 1945.

The POW Evacuation  - Video, photos and stories of the 8th Air Force's evacuation of the Prisoners of War at Stalag Luft I on May 13 & 14, 1945 .  The tensions were building between Russia and the Allies and the fate of the POWs was uncertain until the 8th Air Force flew into Barth and rescued the POWs in a massive airlift. 

The Return  - Reunion and Conference held in Barth on September 8, 2001.  Included is my report on the April 2000 return to Barth of the former Stalag Luft I POWs and Concentration Camp Barth survivors 55 years after their liberation.  Photos of the Memorial site in Barth.

Letters From Home  -
The letters and  V-mail received by our father from his parents while in England, prior to his MIA/POW status.  We feel these reflect the general anxiety felt by many parents facing similar situations with their loved ones flying missions over enemy territory.  

Documents - Various documents associated with being a prisoner of war in World War II Germany.  Scans of War Department/Military Intelligence documents detailing the conditions at Stalag Luft I during the war. We also have the instructions given to the airmen on what to do in the event they are captured.   A copy of the Prisoner of War Bulletin published by the American Red Cross  around Christmas 1944 for the families of the American prisoners of war.  An article citing the famous speech that Col. Spicer gave to his fellow POWs that earned him a death sentence (fortunately the camp was liberated one day before the scheduled sentence was to be imposed!), titled "A Speech Worth Dying For".  The June 21, 1945 daily Newsletter of the U.S.S. Admiral H.T. Mayo - one of the Liberty troopships carrying the POWs back to America. And other interesting items.

Books & Videos - Books written on Stalag Luft I and other World War II POW camps.  Also listed are several good videos on prisoners of war.

The Kriegies - This is what the POWs called themselves.  It is short for Kriegesgefangenen which is the German word for prisoner of war.  Here we have individual pages for some of the former POWs or "kriegies".  The information varies on each page.  You never know what you will find on these pages. Each one is a little gem - special and unique.   Some contain photos of themselves, their crew, their families, their crashed plane, or the Luftwaffe ace that shot them down.

Memorials - Memorials to World War II aircrews and former Prisoners of War in the USA and in Europe.

POW Benefits -  Important information for Ex-Prisoners of war and their next of kin about the Veterans Administration benefits for former POWs or their widows. Almost 2/3 of the surviving ex-POWs are unaware of and are not receiving these benefits.  Visit this page to learn how to obtain the services of an American Ex-POW National Service Officer to help you file for your benefits! The POW monthly amount is $2,527.00 (tax free) for someone rated 100%.  Mother (as the widow of an Ex-POW) is receiving a monthly tax-free check of $911.00, as well as other VA benefits.

POW Medal - America's Prisoner of War Medal approved by Congress in 1985.  Includes an application you can print from your computer.  This medal can be awarded posthumously.

Research  - Suggestions and tips for doing research on World War II prisoners of war. 

Allison's Thoughts  - A speech written by Stalag Luft I ex-POW Dick Williams, Jr.'s granddaughter, Allison,  to her generation about the grandfather she never knew and the gift he and his fellow POWs gave to us by losing their freedom in order to secure ours.  

Links & Rings - Links to the American and British Ex-POW sites, other Stalag Luft and POW sites, 8th Air Force sites, a link to help you in your search for your Dad or loved one's World War II history. 

Guestbook - Sign our guestbook or view our old Guestbook entries left by former POWs and their families. 

What's New -  A listing of the new items added to our website.  Hopefully it will help you locate changes and additions since your last visit.  

A request for financial assistance to fund an exhibit in Barth.

  Listing of the Prisoners of War at Stalag Luft I

This listing contains the names of 7,245 of the 8,939 POWs held at Stalag Luft I when it was liberated in May 1945. 

Click on the first letter of the last name

Attention - Veterans:
Please consider saving your oral history, memoirs, diary, and/or letters home.   By leaving your oral history you will have done your country another good deed.   You will serve future generations as they strive to understand their world.

Click here for some excellent advice on how to start preserving your history.

Note: Articles, Diaries, Pictures, Stories, Tables and other information have been placed on the Stalag Luft I Online web site to share history with a wider audience. You may view, download, print, copy and link to our content as you wish as long as the uses are personal or educational.

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This site created and maintained by Mary Smith and Barbara Freer, daughters of Dick Williams, Jr.