Stalag Luft III

Part XII – Going Home

 

The reality of liberation was a very emotional experience for the tens of thousands of men in POW camps throughout Germany. Many had had a dreadful experience in the last four months of the war as they were marched or transported as far as possible from advancing Allied forces. In the case of the thousands of former POWs at Moosburg, liberation also brought frustration and disappointment. Initially all support of the camp stopped.

The Germans who ran the camp had all been taken off to prison camp and there was a serious delay before a U.S. Army support battalion was pulled out of the line to provide all necessary support for the camp. Next, the hundreds of French prisoners packed up and were flown out. General Charles de Gaulle had obtained first priority for their return from General Dwight Eisenhower. The Americans waited and, against the orders of their keepers, many quietly departed and hitched a ride to Paris. Eventually all American former POWs were moved out to nearby German airfields and transported by C-47 aircraft to the vast but now empty Combat Personnel Replacement Depots on the French Channel Coast.

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