World War II prisoner of war camp - Stalag Luft I

The Interrogators


World War II - Prisoners of War - Stalag Luft I 

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The Luftwaffe Interrogators at Dulag Luft - Oberursel

Dulag Luft solitary cell water color  by Paul Canin
Solitary confinement cell at Dulag Luft


"Durchgangslager der Luftwaffe" or "Transit Camp of the Luftwaffe" was called Dulag Luft by the POWs.  It was located at Oberursel (13 km north-west of Frankfurt-am-Main with a population of about 20,000) and was recognized as the greatest interrogation center in all of Europe.  Nearly all captured Allied airmen were sent there to be interrogated before being assigned to a permanent prison camp.   While at Dulag Luft - Oberursel  the prisoners were kept in solitary confinement.  The average stay in solitary was one or two weeks.  According to the Geneva convention a prisoner could not be kept in solitary confinement for interrogation purposes for more than 28 days.  Of my Dad's crew, Dr. Kuptsow,  Randy Anderson and Dad  were all kept in excess of 25 days!!  With the large Bomber crews they would typically pick a few of the crew to hold longer and press for information and rapidly process the other crew members through and on to a permanent camp.  This is one of the few things we remember our Dad commenting on concerning his POW days. We can still see him shaking his head and saying how horrible solitary confinement was.  He was locked all alone in a dark cell with nothing to do, see, read or listen to for 24 hours a day, day after day !!  

  Excerpts from the book "Kriegie" by Kenneth  W. Simmons, published 1960.

 "At Dulag Luft each prisoner was studied by several psychologists in order to learn his likes, dislikes, habits and powers of resistance.  The method of procedure was then determined, and the machinery was set into operation to destroy his mental resistance in the shortest possible time.  If the prisoner showed signs of fright or appeared nervous, he was threatened with all kinds of torture, some of which were carried out, and he was handled in a rough manner.  Others were bribed by luxuries.  They were traded clean clothes, good living quarters, food and cigarettes for answers to certain questions.  Those who could neither be swayed nor bribed were treated with respect and handled with care in the interrogator's office, but were made to suffer long miserable hours of solitary confinement in the prison cells.

Nothing was overlooked by the German interrogators.  They studied the results  of each interview, and devised new methods to gain the desired information.  Allied Air Corps Intelligence started a counter attack against Dulag Luft by training every flier  in its command on how to act as a prisoner of war.  Every method used to gain information from prisoners was illustrated with films and lectures. (see our Documents page for examples)   Interviews between prisoners and their interrogators were clearly demonstrated to bring out the tactics of  the German interrogators.  Name, rank and serial number became the byword of the counterattack.  Men were drilled and trained by Intelligence until they knew exactly what to expect and what to do.  Patriotism and loyalty were stressed, and American airmen were shown the results of information the Germans had secured from prisoners at Dulag.

The camp was built on level ground.  There were large white rocks that covered the length of the front lawn forming the words "Prisoner of War Camp".  The same identification was painted in white letters across the roof of nearly every building.  Dulag Luft was of great importance to the Germans and they knew the Allies would never bomb it as long as it could be identified from the air.  The camp was estimated to cover about 500 acres,   The boundaries of the camp were formed by two parallel fences ten feet apart and they stood 12 feet tall, with trenches and barbed wire entangled between them. Watch towers were spaced around the camp at one hundred yard intervals.  Trained dogs prowled the outer boundaries and heavily armed pill boxes were scattered beyond the barbed wire."

Miscellaneous facts about Dulag Luft:
Official German name was "Auswertestelle West" which means Evaluation Center, West.

Number of Interrogators :
1943  -   35 - 40
1944  -   60 - 65

Number of prisoners passing through the camp:
1942  -   3,000
1943  -   8,000
1944  -  29,000


Hanns Scharff - Master Interrogator at Dulag Luft

Hanns Scharff - Master Interrogator at Dulag Luft  Hanns Scharff was primarily an American 8th and 9th Air Force Fighter pilot interrogator.  He was considered the best of the interrogators at Dulag Luft. He gained the reputation of magically getting all the answers he needed from the prisoners of war, often with the prisoners never realizing that their words, small talk or otherwise, were important pieces of the mosaic.  It is said he always treated his prisoners with respect and dignity and by using psychic not physical techniques, he was able to make them drop their guard and converse with him even though they were conditioned to remain silent.    One POW commented that "Hanns could probably get a confession of infidelity from a nun."   Hanns personally stepped in to search for information that saved the lives of six US POWs when the SS wanted to execute them.  Many acts of kindness by Scharff to sick and dying American POWs are documented.  He would regularly visit some of the more seriously ill POWs and arrange to make their accommodations more humane.  At one time the Luftwaffe was investigating him.  After the war, he was invited by the USAF to make speeches about his methods to military audiences in the US and he eventually moved to the United States.  General Jimmy Doolittle was one of the first to extend the hand of friendship to Hanns after the war, inviting him to a luncheon where they compared notes.  Later he was invited to the home of Col. Hub Zemke who thereafter would send Hanns what he called a "Red Cross Parcel" every Christmas.  And 38 years after he was Hanns "guest" at Dulag Luft - Oberursel, Col. Francis "Gabby" Gabreski was a guest of honor at Hanns 75th birthday party.  In the United States Scharff worked as a mosaic artist.  His works are on display in Cinderella's castle at Disney World.

Of course we must remember that Hanns was the exception at Dulag Luft and there were other interrogators that were nothing at all like Hanns, whose treatment of the prisoners was more of a physical and threatening nature.

 There is an excellent book written about Hanns called "The Interrogator" by Raymond F. Toliver. 

Scharff with Allied POWs at Dulag LuftScharff with Col. Stark (the Senior Allied Officer at Dulag Luft - Wetzlar, the transit camp). Scharff was seldom required to wear a uniform.  Though only a corporal, Scharff was believed by many POWs to be a high ranking officer.

Photo from the book, "The Interrogator' by Raymond F. Toliver.


Tribute to Scharff attented by Air Force Aces and generals Banquet in October 1980, honoring Hanns Scharff attended by Gen. James H. Doolittle, General Curtis LeMay, aces James L. Brooks and Robert M. DeHaven

Photo from the book, "The Interrogator' by Raymond F. Toliver.


Comments about Hanns we received in our former guestbook:

Name: Hanns-Claudius Scharff
Sent: 7.59 PM - 8/16 2002

Two new items. One of the bomber interrogators was Professor Bert Nagel. He was a literature professor before the war and returned to that occupation following the war. He participated on an exchange program with UC San Diego where he lectured on Medieval literature for many years. He frequently would drive up to L.A. from San Diego to meet with my father. He had a great sense of humour and was a thoroughly nice person. I was contacted by the grandson of a bomber pilot who was interrogated by professor Nagel. The pilots name was Lt. Philip Moscherosch and he was a copilot on a B17. Lt. Moscherosch told his grandson that his interrogator informed him that he had the same surname as a famous 17th Century writer named Johann Moscherosch. When the Lieutenant asked how the interrogator told him that he had been a professor of literature before the war.

The second item I wanted to bring up is on June 23, 2002, The Los Angeles Sunday Time had a front page article on how the U.S. armed forces are gathering intelligence from members of the Taliban and El Qaida. The head of the unit said to the reporters that he "keeps his desk stocked with copies of a book, "The Interrogator," that is practically required reading for his team." The article goes on to say that the book "Is the story of Hanns Scharff, the master German interrogator who during World War II coaxed secrets from countless American pilots while barely raising his voice." The article is a page and a half long. Isn't it strange to think that the interrogation techniques use by my father would have an effect on our war against terror!

I also wanted to let you both know I love reading the comments in your guest book. Your site is doing a wondrous thing. Thank you again

Name: Hanns-Claudius Scharff
Hometown: Los Angeles
POW Camp: Oberursel
Sent: 4.51 PM - 1/12 2002

Just checking back to see how your site is progressing. I think the response you are getting is fabulous!!! Anyone who is interested to hear more about my father Hanns Scharff (one of the interrogators at Oberursel) is free to contact me. Hanns Claudius

Hometown: NORTH KINGSTOWN RI 02852-2854
Sent: 4.24 PM - 1/21 2002
To George Klare, George, look down on this guest book to Jan 12. Check with Hanns Shraff about Oberursel. His dad was the best interrogator there. He is the subject of a book titled "The Interrogator". Very interesting. By the way, no one who was interrogated by Hanns ever had a bad thing to say about him. Good luck .
 P.S.  I was in Oberursel Dec 21-24, 1944, from there to Dulag Luft at Wetzler, then to Stalag Luft I. North 2 block 207. Kriegie #7050.


Name: Hanns-Claudius Scharff
Sent: 7:00 PM - 7/31 2000
My father was Hanns Joachim Scharff. We have met many of his former prisoners under extremely cordial circumstances. In fact Gabby Gabreski and his son came from Long Island to attend my dads 75th birthday. His birthday gift was two rolls and a bottle of Cognac. During a speech, he told us he was returning the gift my dad gave him on his way to the Stalag. I think you have a great site. If I and my brother can be of any assistance to you please let me know.

From:   Brian Parkinson
Hometown:  Umpqua, Oregon, 97486 USA
Sent: 2:17PM   -  9/16 2000
I worked with Hanns Scharff's son in Marketing at McDonnell Douglas, Long Beach, for several years prior to my retirement in 1994. I heard several comments from various sources about his fathers humanity in his capacity as a Luftwaffe interrogator and his ability to "wheedle" information out of the captors, many times without them really realizing what they were giving away.




Ulrich Haussmann - Bomber Crew Interrogator at Dulag Luft 2nd Lt. Ulrich Haussmann  -  Bomber Crew Interrogator

My internet  friend, Ed Kamarainen (an ex-POW from Luft IV and survivor of "The Black March" who was shot down the same day as my Dad, while bombing the same target) sent me his Seattle ex-POW chapter book in which the POWs recount their stories.  In reading this I found this  fascinating story concerning  Lt. Haussmann written by Donald E. Hillman.

Lt. Col. Hillman was shot down in October 1944 and sent to Dulag Luft - Oberursel for interrogation.  Lt. Haussmann, although normally a bomber crew interrogator, was his interrogator.  Hillman spent the full 28 days there being interrogated once or twice a day by Lt. Haussmann. They became well acquainted, if not friendly during his stay.  Haussmann would take Hillman to the radio communications center occasionally so he could listen to the progress of the air battles in an effort to loosen him up and also to impress him with the extent of their intelligence.  Haussmann excitedly told Hillman,  "We got Zemke" when the famous fighter pilot Col. Hub Zemke (and Senior Allied Officer at Stalag Luft I),  was shot down and arrived at Oberursel. Hillman was later sent to Stalag Luft III in Sagan.  Hillman and a fellow POW managed to escape during the "forced march" the POWs were sent on to avoid the rapidly approaching Russian front.  After 5 days he and his companion who were disguised as French "displaced persons"  were caught while trying to get water from a farm well. They were taken to the nearest prison camp in a small village a short distance away.  As Hillman entered the interrogation, he was utterly dismayed to see Lt. Haussmann whom he had gotten to know so well in Dulag Luft - Oberursel.   Haussmann immediately recognized him and said, "What are you trying to pull, Hillman?"  Taking the offensive to try to recover, Hillman said, "Ulrich, you know that Germany is losing the war.  You'd better look ahead to what's coming when Germany surrenders and start making your plans."  Haussmann interrupted, shutting him off and shouted to the guard to throw them in solitary.

That night the cell door opened and Ulrich entered alone.  "Just what did you have in mind?"  Hillman replied that if he helped them make their way back to the front lines that he would help him out after the war.  Haussmann said he would give it some thought, but to keep it just between them.  The next day Haussmann came and took Hillman for a walk through the village so they could talk more freely.  While walking around Hillman noticed barricades being constructed all about the town blocking the possible entrances.  This gave Hillman the basis for an escape plan.  He explained to Haussmann that if the Allies spearhead tank columns encountered resistance they would back off and shell the area until the resistance was neutralized.  The Allies were not aware that US prisoners were being held there.  Hillman proposed that if he could get word to the Allied forces, it would be possible to save the village and the prisoners.  So Haussmann and Hillman took the idea to the prison commandant who bought it.   As a cover Haussmann was given orders transferring the 2 prisoners to another camp in the west.  Since there were 2 prisoners another guard, Sgt. Walt Hanneman (also a Luftwaffe interrogator), was assigned to help Haussmann.   As they made their way to the Allied front lines, Haussmann would obtain food and water for them from the local villagers they encountered.  When they reached the Allied front lines Haussmann and Hanneman  turned over their weapons to Hillman and his companion and voluntarily became their prisoners of war!!  Hillman wrote a report on the help Haussmann and Hanneman had given them. Then Haussmann and Hanneman were flown to England for interrogation.  Hillman and his companion  were processed back to the states and arrived back home safely.

In August 1946, Hillman received a TWX from an Air Force acquaintance who was running and Allied prison camp in Belgium, stating that one of his German prisoners had a wild story about helping Hillman escape from a German prison camp during the war.  Hillman immediately replied giving the pertinent facts regarding the part that Haussmann and Hanneman had played in his escape and recommending that they be immediately released.  In a few weeks Hillman received confirmation that the two had returned to their homes.   Hillman later established contact with Haussmann at his home in Innsbruck, Austria and began sending him monthly CARE packages that contained food and other essentials hard to get in that occupied country.  In the summer of 1949,  while he was in Europe on business, Hillman drove to Haussmann's home in Austria and knocked on the door.  Haussmann was quite flabbergasted when he recognized him and they spent several hours bringing each other up to date.  Hillman met Haussmann's wife and young son and daughter.   When the time came for Hillman to leave Haussmann insisted on driving as far as he could with Hillman and they spent the night at a hotel.  During this time, Haussmann made his case that Austria was a poor place to raise his children at that time.  He asked Hillman to explore the possibilities of emigrating to the United States.  Hillman promised to look into the situation.  Upon his return to the US, Hillman queried into the US State Department and a full investigation of Haussmann was done, including his assistance in Hillman's escape.  Hillman was then told if he "vouched" for Haussmann, that he would never go on welfare, then the Haussmann family could enter the U.S. and apply for citizenship.  Hillman agreed to do so and after several months of correspondence with Haussmann, he arrived in Seattle.  Haussmann was an intelligent and industrious man and  he soon made a career in the sportswear business.  Neither Haussmann nor Hillman have heard from Hanneman since 1945.

Click here to read some of Ulrich Hausmann's very interesting memories of Adolph Galland, Göring and his "home style" interrogation of 2 RAF pilots in his letters to Phil Wright, written in 1996.


Major Waldschmidt - Bomber Crew Interrogator at Dulag Luft

Major Waldschmidt - Bomber Crew Interrogator

   A professor of Indiology at Gottingen University before the war, he became one of the best Bomber Crew interrogators at Oberursel.


Canadian "Wild Bill" Englehardt - Fighter Pilot Interrogator

"Canadian Wild Bill" Englehardt - Fighter Pilot Interrogator

  "Wild Bill" was Hans Scharff's assistant interrogator.  He was very proud of his years in Canada before the WWII.  His Canadian accent  is well remembered by POWs whom he interrogated.




Professor Bert Nagel  - Bomber Interrogator

Was a literature professor before the war and returned to that occupation following the war. He participated on an exchange program with UC San Diego where he lectured on Medieval literature for many years. He frequently would drive up to L.A. from San Diego to meet with Hanns Scharff. He had a great sense of humor and was a thoroughly nice person. Hanns Scharff's son, Hanns-Claudius Scharff,  was contacted by the grandson of a bomber pilot who was interrogated by professor Nagel. The pilots name was Lt. Philip Moscherosch and he was a copilot on a B17. Lt. Moscherosch told his grandson that his interrogator informed him that he had the same surname as a famous 17th Century writer named Johann Moscherosch. When the Lieutenant asked how the interrogator told him that he had been a professor of literature before the war.




Major Otto Böhringer - Administration

Major Otto Böhringer was born in 1895. He joined the Nazi Party on 1 May 1933. From 1939 to 1940 he was a captain in a barrage balloon unit. In 1940 he returned to Mannheim to run his factory that manufactured hydrants and water and oil meters. Böhringer had met Killinger in Java, 1920-25. He visited Killinger at the interrogation center in November 1942 and Killinger asked him to join his staff. Böhringer agreed on the condition that he would be able to continue managing his factory two days per week. He arrived at the center on 12 January 1943 as a captain and was promoted to major on 1 July 1943. Following six weeks of orientation, he tried working as an interrogator, but proved unsuitable after just six interrogations. No interrogations after March 1943. His specialty was commercial intelligence, but the combination of his poor English and the nonexistence of commercial information among air crews made him unqualified for the job. He then became Killinger’s assistant in charge of camp administration and the officers’ mess. In fact, he was a sinecure with no command responsibilities. It was established that Böhringer never acted as the center commandant during either Killinger’s or Junge’s absence because either Killinger or Junge was always present. They were never away from the center at the same time. But he did on occasion fill-in for Junge one day each week starting in November 1943
In truth, there was no permanent replacement for Junge, and Herbert Böttner and Major Sandel rotated through the temporary position. Böhringer was 50 years old in 1945. Was held at the No. 4 Civilian Internment Camp, Recklinghausen prior to the trial.   He was acquitted of war crimes at the Dulag Luft Trial after the war. See "The Aftermath"  box below.

Dulag Luft accused at trial

The accused at the Dulag Luft trial.


Photos of Dulag Luft - Oberursel
From the book "The Interrogator" by Raymond F. Toliver
Dulag Luft portals at Oberursel interrogation center in Germany

Air crew arrival at Dulag Luft - Prisoner of War interrogation center

The cooler at Dulag Luft - POW interrogation center

The Cooler at Oberursel



Dulag Luft - Wetzlar 

After interrogation at Dulag Luft - Oberursel the POWs were sent to Dulag Luft - Wetzlar which was a transit camp located approximately 30 miles away.  From there they were put on trains in groups and transferred to a permanent (stalag) camp.  The stay at Wetzlar averaged about one week.

The following 4 photos of Dulag Luft - Wetzlar are compliments of Judy Kaester, daughter of Cpl. Walter S. Seleski who served in the 80th Chemical Smoke Generating Company and were taken on April 4, 1945. 

Dulag Luft - Wetzlar - April 4, 1945

Wetzlar photo # 2

Wetzlar photo # 3

Wetzlar photo #4

The following photos are of Dulag Luft Wetzlar and are from Claudio Michael Becker.

Main gate Dulag Luft - Wetzlar

New POWs arriving at Wetzlar

View of the main gate at the camp, when it was still in use by the German Luftwaffe.  The sign says in English "List about buildings in the administrative District of the Luftgaukommando XII"  from 1943 indicates, that there was a barrack area and a area for FLAK barracks. In these barrack areas of the later camp, German Luftwaffe soldiers were trained on searchlights.

The arrival of new POW´s in August or September 1944.



Dulag Luft - Wetzlar from the air March 1945

Dulag Luft at Wetzlar - Transit Camp

Aerial view of Dulag Luft - Wetzlar.
This photo was made in March 1945 by a P-38 of 7th (US) Group

Dulag Luft at Wetzlar
From the book "The Interrogator" by Raymond F. Toliver


The following photos are from an "After The Battle"  ( ) magazine feature article on Dulag Luft published in England -  November 1999.

Dulag Luft cell
A drawing of a solitary confinement room at Dulag Luft - Oberursel
Red Cross Form
One of the variations of the famous Red Cross Form presented to arriving POWs to complete 
Oberursel Station
The train station at Oberursel
POWs at train
POWs leaving train station for Frankfurt
Blue print of Dulag Luft Camp Diagram of cells at Dulag Luft
Diagram of cells in solitary confinement
Hohemark hospital
Dulag Luft - Hohemark Hospital
After the Battle - Kommandant's house

The Dulag Luft Kommandant's House as it looks today

Aerial photo of Dulag Luft - March 1945
Dulag Luft Aerial photo March 13, 1945
Administration Block housing Interrogation Room
The administration block. It was built in winter of 42-43.  It housed the Interrogation Room,  the records section, the Map Room and the Situation Rooms. 
Main corridor and interrogation room
The Main Corridor and Room 47 where prisoners were interrogated
Other Photos and Drawings
Blueprint of Dulag Luft Randy Anderson Dulag Luft ID card from World War II    Back side of Dulag Luft POW ID card 

 Blueprint drawing of Dulag Luft - Oberursel

Dulag Luft Identification Card 


Comments we have received on experiences at Dulag Luft during WWII:

I was interrogated at Dulag during the last few days of November, 1944.  I had two interrogators, the first was an Oberloitenant.  I believe he had been a navigator on the Russian front, injured in some way and then given the job of interrogation of POW's.  I was then interrogated by a German "civilian", which I assumed was an officer in civilian clothes.  I just listened as he talked about his life and was trying to get me to talk.  He bragged about living in Canada and raising wheat 200 miles farther north than any one had done before.

Lee Lamar - Stalag Luft I POW


We would love to hear your story of you visit with the Interrogators.  Please write to us and tell us about it.  
 Click here to email your experience at Dulag Luft to us.


American Prisoners of War in Germany - Dulag Luft
Prepared by Military Intelligence Service,  War Department  15 July, 1944

This document gives a detail description of the strength, treatment, food, clothing, health, religious activities,  German personnel, mail, recreation, etc. at the camp.


dulag luft camp                

dulag luft camp pg 2 dulag luft camp  pg 3


Dulag Luft Trial - The Aftermath of Dulag Luft:

After the war ended the British convened a war crimes trial. The Trial was knows as the "Dulag Luft Trial". It was held in Wuppertal, Germany, beginning on November 26, 1945. The hearing was convened due to the allegations of ill treatment of British Prisoners of War. Four officers were charged: Killenger, Junge, Eberhardt, and Bohehringer. Killenger and Junge were sentenced to five years confinement. Eberhardt received three years. Boehringer was acquitted.

There is a report on the war crimes trial of five command officers/ interrogators at Dulag Luft Oberursel, held by a British military tribunal 26 Nov-3 Dec 1945, at  (Prof. Steve Stein's "War Crimes and Criminals" website. The report, written for lawyers and students of international war crimes law, gives an account of the officers involved in the Oberursel war crimes charges, their duties, the charges they faced, and a synopsis of the legal issues of interest.


Can You Take It?

by Anonymous - this poem was found on the wall of a solitary confinement cell at Dulag Luft.

It's easy to be nice, boys
  When everything's O.K.
It's easy to be cheerful,
  When your having things your way.
But can you hold your head up
  And take it on the chin.
When your heart is breaking
  And you feel like giving in?

It was easy back in England,
  Among the friends and folks.
But now you miss the friendly hand,
  The joys, and songs, and jokes.
The road ahead is stormy.
  And unless you're strong in mind,
You'll find it isn't long before
  You're dragging far behind.

You've got to climb the hill, boys;
  It's no use turning back.
There's only one way home, boys,
  And it's off the beaten track.
Remember you're American,
  And when you reach the crest,
You'll see a valley cool and green,
  Our country at its best.

You know there is a saying
  That sunshine follows rain,
And sure enough you'll realize
  That joy will follow pain.
Let courage be your password,
  Make fortitude your guide;
And then instead of grousing,
  Just remember those who died.


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