Stalag VIIIB (344) was a large, German prisoner of war camp, which was renumbered Stalag 344 at the end of 1943. It was located near the small town of Lamsdorf (now called Lambinowice, in Poland) in what was then known as Upper Silesia. Today on the site of the camp is the Polish Central Prisoner of War Museum. The camp initially comprised barracks built to house British and French prisoners in the First World War but there had also been a prison camp there during the Franco Prussian War of 1870-71. Watch a slide show of the history.
In 1939 the camp housed Polish prisoners from the German September 1939 offensive. Later, more than 100,000 prisoners from Australia, Belgium, Britain, Canada, France, Greece, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Poland, South Africa, the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia and the United States passed through this camp. In 1941 a separate camp, Stalag VIIIF was set up close by to house the Soviet and Polish prisoners.
In November 1943, the Lamsdorf camp was split up, and many of the prisoners and Working Parties/Arbeitskommandos were transferred to two new base camps: Stalag VIIIC Sagan, and Stalag VIIID Teschen which became VIIIB. The camps at Lamsdorf, VIIIB and VIIIF were re-numbered Stalag 344.
The Soviet Army reached the camp on the 17th March 1945.
The Soviet army used the camp to house Germans prisoners of war and civilians. Polish army personnel being repatriated from POW camps were also processed through Lamsdorf and sometimes held there as prisoners for several months. Some were later released, others sent to Gulags in Siberia.
Changes in the numbering of Stalag VIIIB and Stalag 344
(largely from the work by Frantisek Mainus)
The history of the numbering of Stalag VIIIB can cause confusion for anyone seeking information on Second World War prisoners held in Stalag VIIIB. The camp at Lamsdorf was numbered Stalag VIIIB from early in the war. In 1941 a separate camp, Stalag VIIIF was set up close by to house the Soviet and Polish prisoners. In May 1941 a camp numbered Stalag VIIID was set up at Teschen (Cesky Tesin), on the Polish/Czech border. On this site there were old buildings which were used in the first World War as a hospital. The Czechoslovak army later used the buildings and in 1938 the Polish army used them. In September 1939 the German army occupied Cesky Tesin and used the site as garages for military vehicles. This Stalag, together with its Working Parties (Arbeitskommandos), was responsible for housing about 7,000 prisoners, mainly French, but also Belgian and Yuogslavian with a few British.
The camp at Teschen was joined to Stalag VIIIB (Lamsdorf) in September 1942 as a kind of “branch” camp and was then called VIIIB Zweilager Teschen. By 1943 this enlarged Stalag VIIIB (i.e. at Lamsdorf and Teschen) handled some 120,000 prisoners in the two camps and their many associated Working Parties.
The camps at Teschen and Lamsdorf were “separated” from 8th November 1943 and the number Stalag VIIIB was applied just to the Teschen camp. The camps at Lamsdorf, that is, the former VIIIB and VIIIF, became Stalag 344. In that month more than 10,000 POWs were transferred from the very overcrowded camp at Lamsdorf to Teschen. The Teschen camp was where many of the prisoners from the invasion of Normandy and later captures were sent. It is important to bear in mind that many early prisoners, e.g. men from Dunkirk, North Africa etc. were sent to Lamsdorf when it was VIIIB.
Post 1943 references to Stalag VIIIB may relate to Teschen. Unfortunately, not everyone realised that there had been a change, or, if they did, they didn’t worry too much about it and continued to refer to Lamsdorf as VIIIB. In your search for information it is easy to be confused if you get information about the “wrong” VIIIB. In practice, many prisoners of these camps were not physically at the Lamsdorf or Teschen camps at all but were in working parties administered by these camps. These working parties were numbered, usually with a letter as a prefix (e.g. E902, which was a coal mine at Hindenburg (now Zabrze) in Poland administered from VIIIB Teschen). Most of the working parties administered from VIIIB Teschen were in the industrial areas of Silesia, Poland and near Teschen, as well as Katowice, Bytom and other industrial areas of Poland.
Timetable of name changes:
- Early in The War: Stalag VIIIB is established at Lamsdorf, near Opole.
- 1941: Stalag VIIIF is established at Lamsdorf and Stalag VIIID is established at Teschen.
- 1942, September Stalag VIIIB and Stalag VIIID combined; VIIID is called Stalag VIIIB Zweilager (camp 2) Teschen and Lamsdorf remained VIIIB.
- 1943, December: Stalag VIIIB Lamsdorf and VIIIB Zweilager Teschen are separated. The Stalag at Teschen becomes Stalag VIIIB, and VIIIB & VIIIF at Lamsdorf becomes Stalag 344.
- 1945, January: both camps and associated Arbeitskommandos are evacuated on the ‘Long March’ to the west, ahead of the Russian advance.
Found 9420 POWs