Stalag Luft III
Part II – Capture
There were countless instances of men surviving the catastrophic destruction of their aircraft high in the sky. The accounts of explosion and fire which left men unconscious in the air only to have them land safely by parachute were so common that in Stalag Luft III such survivors had difficulty finding an audience for the story.
In the last year of the war the German leadership actually encouraged enraged civilians, who had captured Allied airmen who were destroying their cities and killing their women and children, to wreak their vengeance on them indiscriminately.
How many men died this way is known only to God.
Fortunately, and to their credit, German military personnel aggressively defended shot-down airmen from such outrages.
Dulag Luft, located near Frankfurt am Main, was the Luftwaffe Aircrew Interrogation Center to which all Allied airmen were delivered as soon as possible after their capture. There each new prisoner, while still trying to recover from the recent trauma of his shoot-down and capture, was skillfully interrogated for military information of value to the Germans.
The German interrogators claimed that they regularly obtained the names of unit commanders, information on new tactics and new weapons, and order of battle from naive or careless U.S. airmen, without resort to torture. New prisoners were kept in solitary confinement while under interrogation and then moved into a collecting camp. After a week or ten days, they were sent in groups to a permanent camp such as Stalag Luft III for officers or Stalag VIB for enlisted men. A nearby hospital employing captured doctors and medical corpsmen received and cared for wounded prisoners.