World War II prisoner of war camp - Stalag Luft I

The Newspaper


World War II - Prisoners of War - Stalag Luft I 

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Pow Wow was the largest circulating daily underground newspaper in Germany during World War II.  Its headquarters were at Stalag Luft I. It grew from a small penciled newssheet read by hundreds into a neatly printed 2,000 word daily, eagerly perused by thousands. At its most successful period, it boasted editions in three languages and a circulation that reached seven prison camps.  Pow Wow stood for Prisoners Of War - Waiting On Winning and it claimed to be the only truthful newspaper in Germany.

The Germans knew about Pow Wow and they made strenuous efforts to eliminate it, but from March 1944 to May 1945 not one edition was missed because of enemy interference.  It served a continuous and vital kriegie need: the urgent necessity to be kept informed on what was happening outside their barbed wire isolation.


News was obtained from four main sources:  from German newspapers and magazines brought into the camp, from loudspeakers which broadcast the Nazi war communiqués and from newly arrived prisoners who brought fresh news from home.  The fourth source was  a secret radio hidden in the South/West Compound.


The best source of news was from the hidden radio  which was strong enough to pick up the BBC news. The radio had been constructed by two RAF (Royal Air Force) men, mainly from smuggled parts late in 1943.  It first operated on the camp electrical system, but it was later converted to run on batteries in order to listen to the BBC nightly broadcast when the camp electricity supply had been cut off.  The receiver was concealed within a wall panel located behind a bed in the barrack room, some of the fixing nails acting as terminals to which an aerial wire and earphone cables could be attached.  Only two almost invisible points on the wall disclosed where the radio was erected.  When these points were joined by a short length of wire, the set was automatically switched on to the correct wave-length and the chimes of London's Big Ben preceding the nightly news.

There were designated listeners who transcribed the news onto pieces of toilet paper. Lou Trouve, and American POW  and Alec Small an RCAF POW were the primary transcribers. This paper was then  hidden in a tin of dried milk that had been fitted with a false bottom.

After roll call the next morning, the notes were dictated to a typist who made a copy on a small very thin sheet of paper.  This paper was then folded and hidden in a hollow wristwatch.  The wristwatch was  worn by W/O R.R. Drummond (RAF) the official liaison officer between the  West Compound and the North  Compound during his daily trips between them. Although he was often searched, this paper was never discovered.

The actual compilation and publication of the paper occurred in Barracks 9 of the North I Compound.  Pow Wow consisted of  two columns on each side of a legal-size piece of tissue paper.  It was printed and duplicated by carbon paper on a typewriter and circulated each evening throughout the camp. When supplies of carbon paper were exhausted, new stocks were made by smoking sheets of paper over oil based lamps and sizing them with smuggled kerosene.  The "staff" generally worked until mid-afternoon until the evening paper was ready for distribution to the compounds. One copy was distributed to each barracks.  Ray Parker was the editor of POW WOW


At one time a daily Russian edition was published from the original and the thirty five Soviet fliers who were also interned in the camp had a means of communicating their news to other Russian compounds in the vicinity. And for a short time, a French version also appeared regularly.

During the summer of 1944, they also produced, a weekly Sunday supplement that contained eight pages of news summaries, features, contributions, editorials and analysis.  The paper frequently contained cartoons, hand drawn on each copy. Fighter Ace, Capt. Donald Ross supplied a weekly page of comics entitled "Klim Kriegies" which parodied the more amusing aspects of camp life. Another feature was a weekly poll, in which representatives canvassed the  camp for opinions on timely subjects. A poll in the middle of July 1944 showed that the majority of the prisoners thought the war would be over by September 1944.

Pow Wow scored some spectacular news scoops despite the handicaps under which it operated.  These scoops came from the German radio, and from German guards secretly listening to the Oslo or Copenhagen radio and tipping off the POWs. The crew got out an "extra" on the invasion of Normandy which preceded American news flashes by twenty minutes. And their issue announcing the fall of Paris was out two hours before any New York newspaper had it.

Because Pow Wow was almost always destroyed after it was read, few actual copies are known to exist.  The copies below are the only ones we know of in existence.  We hope to find more and would like to hear from anyone who might have any other issues. Please contact us at if you have any copies of POW WOW not listed below.


Click on all pictures to view full size and/or print.

June 6, 1944  POW WOW front

June 6, 1944 POW WOW back

D-Day - June 6, 1944 - Front D-Day - June 6, 1944 - Back

August 24, 1944  POW WOW edition

August 24, 1944  POW WOW edition back

August 24, 1944 Issue - Front August 24, 1944 Issue - Back

September 12, 1944 POW WOW

September 12, 1944 POW WOW back

September 12, 1944 Issue - Front September 12, 1944 Issue - Back

POW WOW issue 9/16/44  Front

POW WOW issue 9/16/44 Back

September 16, 1944 Issue - Front September 16, 1944 Issue - Back


April 14, 1945 Issue - Front
(from Chuck Steinforth's collection)
April 14, 1945 Issue - Back
(from Chuck Steinforth's collection)



POW WOW - May 8, 1945 Issue - Front 

"The momentous news which thrilled the outside world  (VE Day) was taken in stride by Stalag Luft I, for Nazism's death throes were almost anti-climatic to the frenzied excitement of our liberation by our Russian Brothers-in-Arms."

POW WOW - May 8, 1945 Issue Back
( From Dr. Kuptsow's collection )

"We came to Europe and learned to appreciate America.  We fought and learned why we were fighting.  In retrospect we are proud of our share in bringing about this glorious occasion.   Our planes brought the War home to the enemy.  We were the Vanguard of Victory".


   Bow Wow newspaper  May 26, 1944 - parody of POW WOW

BOW WOW - A parody of the POW WOW published by North 1, Barracks 8, Room 2 POWs - dated May 26, 1944.  Brags that it contains, "Only Unreliable News".


BOW-WOW comic - parody of POW WOW

BOW-WOW is one of the comic reliefs of the camp.  It's editorials are wild impossible dreams on the part of the editor.  It prints all the dirt it can find on fellow Kriegies, picking on POW-WOW as 'being a rag'.    By  Lt. Col. McCollom:


pow wow parody from wartime log

From a YMCA wartime log


Barth Hard Times

Volume 1- No. 1- Last 1           Saturday May 5 ,1945

This was a special one time edition, printed after the liberation by the Russians. Note it is Volume 1 Number 1 and Last 1!!    The price is 1 "D" bar which was a chocolate candy bar.

Barth Hard Times issue 5/5/45

Life and Death of a German town

Update from Ray Parker - editor of the POW WOW -   I was a prisoner for 14 months. When I went back to civilian life, I became a reporter and feature writer for the Los Angeles Examiner and then the L.A. Times. Moving on to television, I was Art Linkletter's head writer for a dozen years on his "Art Linkletter's House Party." I worked for several other network shows as well, including the Bob Hope Specials. I was on Bob's staff for three years.  I did several books for him, and a couple for Dick Van Dyke.

The Secret Radio
Courtesy of Roy Kilminster
Drawing of secret radio hiding place

Drawing of secret radio hiding place

The radio was hid in Roy Kilminster's bunk at Stalag Luft I - illustrated here.





  another photo of radio hiding place

Secret radio hiding place

The radio was constructed by one of Roy's room-mates, W/O Leslie Hurrell. Although the major components would have been acquired in the usual way by bribing or blackmailing guards, building a working radio under the conditions in a POW camp  required considerable improvisation and ingenuity. Finding our radio ultimately became one of the prime objectives of abwehr searches. As the radio was relatively bulky, hiding it securely whilst still being able to use it easily, had presented some major problems.  The radio was never found by the Germans.

  Actual photo of secret radio hiding place

Actual photo of secret radio hiding place.

The wallboard with the radio on the back has been put in place, pictures and maps from German newspapers have been pasted over the joins of the wallboards, Roy's bunk-bed has been pushed back into position against the wall and a book-shelf fixed over the critical position. To make contact with the radio, wires were pushed through holes in the wall boards. Those holes were positioned as inconspicuously as possible and normally filled with plugs made to match the rest of the wall. This photograph shows the radio ready to be used. The batteries to operate the radio are on top of the books on the bookshelf, the earphones are resting on the blanket of Roy's bunk-bed.


screwdrivers used to tune radio

Screwdrivers used to tune radio

To tune-in the radio stations it was necessary to adjust the two variable capacitors in the radio by means of screwdrivers also pushed through holes in the wallboard. Unavoidably, those holes were in a more-exposed position and, to camouflage them, the holes were bored through one of the newspaper maps that had been suitably positioned on the wall.

Plugs for those holes were then disguised to look like the towns that were genuinely part of the map. Those plugs could be removed with a pin when the radio was to be used. For security, we chose a map of a remote geographical area.  On the left of this map of Burma, screwdrivers can be seen inserted through our two fictitious town. Even the most observant guards were unlikely to have noticed anything strange about our alteration to the topography of such a remote and little-known area



secret radio revealed

Secret radio revealed

This is the actual radio that was used to record the news published in the secret newspaper - POW WOW.  This illustration shows a board pried from the inner wall of the hut with the radio fixed to the back of the board. As can be seen from the photo­graph the radio was a two valve job.





Klim Kriegie cartoon by Donald Ross

Klim Kriegie by Donald Ross in Fred Bronson's wartime log.




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