Arrested by the Nazis for “undermining morale”

Reichsführer SS Himmler addresses a meeting of the newly formed Volkssturm in October 1944.

So much for the window. On the walls, the inevitable obscenities and calculations of time still to be served — in weeks, days, hours, and minutes, even. Then, a veritable flood of Soviet stars, which gave the idea that the entire Red Army had been imprisoned here. And lastly, scratched into the concrete with a key, perhaps, the words, so very applicable to me: ‘My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?’ I read this, and darkness envelops me.




US 82nd Airborne seizes prisoners for intelligence

The 82nd had arrived in Holland as part of Operation Market Garden. Men and supplies drop from transport 'planes above Nijmegen.

I didn’t think my German was that bad, so other more persuasive means had to be used to make him talk. This was not a time for German arrogance. In the heat of battle I was locked in mortal combat and in a struggle for my life. I would just as soon have slit his throat except for the fact that I needed information, and division wanted him for the same purpose. I knocked him to the ground and, lying next to him, began choking him. Then I repeated my question. I got the same response.




Evacuation of the surviving troops from Arnhem

A group of survivors from the Arnhem Operation arriving at Nijmegen after the evacuation and having their first drink. One of them, Captain Jan Linzel (second from left) is a member of the Dutch Royal Navy attached to No 10 Commando.

As I looked around I saw tired faces everywhere, grimy, proud, undefeated faces and I wanted to cry. I didn’t recognise anybody and I had no idea how many others had made it. We had all been through so much together. Everywhere I looked I saw the eyes of men who had seen too much, given too much. Everywhere I looked I saw a hero. But for every man that had escaped many more had died, been wounded or captured and they had no one to tell their story.




Red Army reaches the Russian border

Some of the 57,000 German  POWs marched through the streets of Moscow to demonstrate the success of the Red Army.

For just a few minutes, people became completely different – unfettered, they straightened their backs and stood taller; pride appeared on their faces, and their eyes sparkled. If only for a short while, the terrible memories of the days of retreat and death slipped away, the years we endured together, the tears over those who passed away — all vanished in this moment of common triumph and joy! How splendid that we had lived to see this hour! That we were among the first of the first to cross this fixed geographical boundary, which was so precious to us all, and toward which we had all been striving so long! It seemed to all of us that the end of the war was now just a stone’s throw away.




Why the other nations fought for Hitler

US Army troops marched German prisoners of war through Cherbourg, 28 Jun 1944

That was the outward scene in the prisoners’ cage, and it made no sense at all. A dozen different nationalities. All of them reacting in different ways, pulling in different directions, speaking different languages. And yet an hour or two since they had all been fighting with a suicidal ferocity. Pillboxes were being held long after their eventual destruction was a certainty. The Russians had been firing right up to the last few yards before they threw up their hands.




Avoiding Japanese ‘doctors’ in Shinagawa Camp, Tokyo

Shinagawa POW camp. An aerial shot taken towards the end of the war.

If they got worse, they were operated on at night while he was out of camp. This was done in the face of his direct orders forbidding any surgery being done other than by Dr. Tokuda. Black with anger the next morning, he cussed and howled when he found out that a victim – had escaped his tender ministration. We told him blandly that it was an emergency and we were unable to reach him.




OSS troops executed at dawn on Dostler’s orders

German General Anton Dostler is tied to a stake before his execution by a firing squad in the Aversa stockade. The General was convicted and sentenced to death by an American military tribunal. Aversa, Italy., 
US Army photograph colourized by Mads Madsen.

During the night from Saturday 25th to Sunday, 26th March, two attempts were made by officers of the 135th Fortress Brigade and by the Naval Officers to bring about a change in the decision by telephoning to the accused Dostler. All these attempts having been unsuccessful, the 15 Americans were executed on the 26th March, early in the morning. They were neither tried, nor given any hearing.




The ‘Great Escape’ from Stalag Luft III

The entrance to 'Harry',

There were about 200 of us spread evenly in the rooms throughout the hut. I can’t honestly remember if we had been allocated rooms according to our escape numbers, but that was probably the case. Everyone was nervous, checking constantly papers, escape rations, appearance — all the small details your life might depend upon later.




U-boat murder leads to last mass execution in U.S.

Werner Drechsler, recovering from a bullet wound to his right knee, disembarks USS Osmond Ingram assisted by Hermann Polowzyk

The investigation in that case indicated that Drechsler had been used as an informant by G-2 or ONI to assist in the interrogation and processing of prisoners at Meade or some other installation in this vicinity. After his usefulness had been exhausted Drechsler was shipped to Papago Park for imprisonment. He was a submarine man, and Papago Park detains numerous Navy prisoners. Drechsler was recognized as a traitor to Germany and was murdered. This result could or should have been foreseen, to put it mildly.




Leo Rawlings – War artist on the death railway

Dysentery: a naked and emaciated prisoner-of-war sits on the edge of a bamboo bed with a metal bowl covered with a rectangular lid by his feet.


Men still working in the jungle camps and the railway sidings were drafted out to operate on the track laying gangs. Up to eighteen hours per day, and in some cases even more, was expected and demanded of these unfortunates, the sick along with the half-fit — for now no fit men remained. All were either physically or mentally sick.