April 1945

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..

The war is nearly over when in April 1945, an unusual and dangerous order is issued to the 2nd Battalion – 114th Regiment, U.S. 44th Infantry Division. Break through the German lines and drive north over 60 kilometers through enemy held territory to Bad Orb and liberate the POWs interned at the infamous prison camp Stalag IX-B. In short order a mechanized task force is organized, reinforced with light tanks and armored cars from the 106th Calvary Group and Company 'C’ with the lethal “Slugger” tank destroyers from the respected 776th Tank Destroyer Battalion. The daring mission is launched on April 2, 1945.
Speed of advance was critical. Task force orders were avoid contact if possible, fight through opposition if necessary and if cut off, they were on their own. The attack started well and the relief task force advanced quickly through the rolling German countryside on a clear and bright early spring day. The 10th Cavalry recon element advanced ahead of the main task force to Bad Orb. Meeting only sporadic resistance, usually inaccurate small arms fire, the main task force rolled to Bad Orb, rejoined the Cavalry and then liberated the death camp. What they 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.

That's my Dad - second to the left. (for further reading see my post tao1776.blogspot.com/2006/12/between-december...)


Mike Golch said…
Man,I just hate seeing the inhumanity that the german military forced the Pows to live in,but that again the pows that the Japanese held were treated no better.
I beleve that the pows that we held were treated much better,that our guys were treated.I guess we believed in civility.
Wow what a powerful connection that you have to such a historic and horrific event. Thank-you for sharing this with us brother.

Man really is capable of the worst and best that this planet has seen.