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IV-B(or Stalag IV B) was one of the largest prisoner of war
camps in Germany during World War II. Stalag
meens the German noun "Stammlager". The main camp was located 8km
NE of the town Mühlberg in Brandenburg, just east
of the Elbe river and about 30
miles (50 km) north of Dresden. A branch camp, sometimes identified as
Stalag-IVB/Z, was located at Zeithain, 10 km to the south in Saxony.
This camp covering about 30ha (75 acres) was built in September
- The first inmates arrived in September 1939. They were about
17,000 Polish soldiers
captured in the German September 1939 offensive. For the first two
months they dwelt under the open sky or in tents. Most of them were
transferred further to other camps.
- May 1940 the first French soldiers arrived, taken prisoner in
the Battle of
- In 1941 British, Australian and South African soldiers arrived after the
fall of Tobruk, then the Soviets.
- In October 1944 several thousand Poles arrived in October 1944
from the Warsaw
Uprising, including several hundred women soldiers.
- November 1944 the Polish women were transferred to other camps,
mainly Stalag IV-E
(Altenburg) and Oflag
- At the end of December 1944 about 7,500 Americans arrived from
the Battle of the Bulge. At least 3,000
of them were transferred to other camps, mostly to Stalag VIII-A.
- 23 April 1945 the Red
Army liberated the camp. Altogether soldiers from 33 nations
passed through this camp.
P.O.W. dogtag from Stalag IVB
The British prisoners published two periodicals: the wall newspapers
"The New Times" and a richly illustrated "Flywheel".
The publication "Flywheel" was founded by Tom Swallow, and
comprised pages from school exercise-books that carried
hand-written articles with colour illustrations from whatever inks
the editorial team could produce from stolen materials, like
quinine from the medical room; these were stuck into place with
fermented millet soup, kept from the meagre camp rations. One copy
per issue was produced, to be circulated among members throughout
the camp. When extracts were published in hardback format in 1987,
the book ran to two reprints.
An additional periodical, "The Observer" was published between
December 1943 and May 1944.
The Camp's Welsh soldiers also created their own periodical
called 'Cymro' (Welshman), edited by prisoner William John Pitt
from Treharris (1920-1988).The magazines were produced between July
1943 and December 1944. 8 issues of the magazines were created, and
out of these one was lost in the camp. Although most of the issues
are in English, 2 pages are in Welsh. The manuscript was bought by
The National Library of Wales at Sotheby’s in 1987. 
When the Soviet Army arrived at the camp in April 1945, there
were about 30 000 crowded into the facilities, of these 7,250 were
British. About 3,000 died, mainly from tuberculosis and typhus.
They were buried in the cemetery in neighboring Neuburxdorf, 8km NE
of Mühlberg. Today a memorial and a museum commemorate them.
It is not widely known, but the Soviet liberators were in no
hurry to repatriate the British and American prisoners to their
homelands. In fact they were held in the camp for over a month.
Individual soldiers "escaped" from the camp and made their way on
foot to the American lines.
This branch camp, originally named Stalag-304, was built in
April 1941 next to the military depot, training ground and
Jacobsthal railway station, to accommodate Soviet prisoners.
- In July about 11,000 Soviet soldiers, and some officers,
- By April 1942 only 3,279 remained. The rest had died from
malnutrition and a typhus
epidemic caused by the deplorable sanitary conditions. The bodies
were buried in mass graves.
- After April 1942 more Soviet prisoners arrived and died just as
rapidly. At the end of 1942 10,000 reasonably healthy Soviet
prisoners were transferred to Belgium to work in the coal mines.
- In February 1943 Zeithain was transformed into a hospital camp
designated Stalag IV-B/H. The main part still housed Soviet
prisoners suffering from tuberculosis, who continued to die at the
rate 10-20 per day (according to German sources).
- The section closer to the rail-station was now used to house
sick prisoners of other nationalities. These included several
hundred Poles and Yugoslavs brought from other camps.
- In September 1943. a section was set aside for sick Italian soldiers imprisoned after
Badoglio surrendered to the Allies. About 900 died but, in
contrast to the Soviet prisoners, they were buried in individual
graves in a military cemetery in Jacobsthal: for merit of the job
of the militar chaplain Luca Ajroldi.
- In October 1944, The most amazing transformation occurred.
About 25 huts of the Italian section were separated into a special
enclosure to house about 1100 wounded survivors, men and women, of
the Polish Home Army that had fought in the Warsaw Uprising
for 63 days; as well as the medical personnel - 55 doctors and 168
nurses - to care for them.
- A train also brought hospital equipment and supplies salvaged
from the ruins of Warsaw and the families of the doctors. The Camp
Commandant, Colonel Doctor Stachel observed the families with
children, and even pets, descending from the train, and walked away
in disgust. German
sources quote that "..the nurses and other staff went to work with
great dedication, and achieved a standard of hygiene that had never
been seen before in Zeithain." This was probably the only P.O.W.
camp in the world housing both men and women, and in which 11
babies were born and assigned P.O.W. registration numbers!
- April 23, 1945 the Red
Army liberated the camp.
The local community has built a memorial to the victims of
Stalag IV-B Zeithain in a Memorial Grove (Gedenkstätte
Ehrenhain Zeithain) near the station, with a museum.
Came the Cossacks
"Thirteen is My Lucky Number", ISBN 1-57087-204-X. by B.C.Biega -
Coordinates: 51°26′59″N 13°16′55″E / 51.44972°N