Between December 16, and December 19, 1944, my father was one of the many captured American prisoners during the famous "Battle of the Bulge." Wading through the two foot snow and below zero temperatures, they were crowded upon cattle cars and transported to Stalag 1X-B at Bad Orb, Germany.
As stated by another POW...December 17Th, Captured. - Walked all night
December 18Th walked all day- 1/3 Loaf bread cheese, marmalade
December 19Th in PW cage
December 20Th walked all day
December 21st walked all day
December 22nd walked all day
December 23rd Boarded train no food
December 24th on train no food no water
December 25th on train no food little waterDecember 26th 1/6 loaf, little meat 0100 on train
December 26th left train at 0900 Bad orb Stallager (IXB)
In April of 1945, the 44th Infantry Division pushed through German territory to liberate the POWs. This is what they had to say:
Stalag IX-B is usually regarded as the worst of the German camps that held American POWs. Incredible over crowding, deplorable facilities and starvation diets were responsible for broad scale death through starvation, disease and overexposure. Guards brutalized captives, mostly privates from the American Army. What they (the 44th Infantry) found there were appalling conditions even for these hardened veterans. Over 4,700 American POWs were far more than the camp could handle. The food was terrible and rationed in insufficient quantities. Many of the captives were too weak to greet their liberators. Many corpses remained exposed and unburied. For each 160-person barrack, only one cold water tap, and one hole in the ground for a toilet. The barracks were so overcrowded that the prisoners had to take turns sleeping, in bunks and on the floor in lice-infested straw.
Red Cross Report: April 19, 1945
Ref. C/x // COPY OF INCOMING CABLEGRAM:INTERNATIONAL COMMITTEE OF THE RED CROSS // DELEGATION IN THE UNITED STATES
Cable received from: Intercroixrouge // Geneva, SwitzerlandDate sent: April 17, 1945 // Date received: April 19, 1945Translation
1564 GENERAL VISIT WEHRKREIS IX FROM 6TH TO 2IST MARCH FOLLOWING CAMPS OFLAG IX/A/H/Z STALAGS IX/A IX/B IX/C LAZARETTS STADTRODA HILDBURGHAUSEN BADSODEN OBERMASSFELD MEININGEN SCHLEITZ TREYSA SITUATION CRITICAL FOR THOSE THERE SINCE BEGINNING AND PRISONERS EVACUATED UNDER VERY BAD CONDITIONS FROM CAMPS IN THE EAST CONSIDERABLE LOSS OF WEIGHT DYSENTERY DIARRHEA HEMORRHAGICA GENERALIZED PNEUMONIA HYGIENE NONEXISTANT VERMIN SWARMS DANGER TYPHUS CLOTHING IN SHREADS STOP BARRACKS AND TENTS OVERCROWDED PRISONERS SLEEP ON BARE FLOORS OR UNCLEAN STRAW STOP EXTREMELY SMALL PORTIONS OF FOOD STOP STALAG IX/B WITHOUT SALT FOR WEEKS STOP NO SHIPMENTS SINCE SEVERAL MONTHS SUPPLIES EXTREMELY URGENTLY NEEDED FOOD CLOTHING SHOES DRUGS IN PARTIOULAR SULFOGUANIDINE SOLFOPYRIDINE OPIATES DISINFECTANTS SUCH AS IODEMERFEN ("SWISS PREPARATION ZYMA MERCURY-BROMAT WITH IODINE") ANTIDYPTHERIA SERUM TYPHUS VACCIN PENICILLIN MATERIEL FOR DRESSINGS BLANKETS UTENSILS STOP GRAVE DANGER OF EPEDEMCS SANITARY INSTALLATIONS ALTOGETHER INSUFFICIENT SOAP TOILET PAPER COMPLETELY LACKING STOP GENERAL APATHY REPRESENTATIVES HARRASSED WITH QUESTIONS HIGH PERCENTAGE DEATHS STOP OFLAGS RELATIVELY BETTER NO NEW ARRIVALS OF PRISONERS FOOD CONDITIONS BETTER BUT NO SHIPMENTS OF FOOD RECEIVED NECESSITY CONSTITUTE RESERVES FOR FORESEEN ARRIVAL EVACUES STOP LAZARETTS NOT IN AS POOR CONDITION AS STALAGS BECAUSE PRISONER LESS NUMEROUS MEDICAL CARE STILL SUFFICIENT BUT SYMPTOMS OF DISEASE CAUSED BY UNDERNOURISHMENT
I miss you Dad....