Name changes of Stalag VIIIB (344)

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. Many thousands of prisoners passed through this camp. 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 (ie 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” 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 (most?) prisoners of these camps were not physically at the Lamsdorf or Teschen camps at all but were out on 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 established at Lamsdorf, near Opole.
1941: Stalag VIIIF was established at Lamsdorf and Stalag VIIID was established at Teschen.
September 1942: Stalag VIIIB and Stalag VIIID combined; VIIID was called Stalag VIIIB Zweilager (camp 2) Teschen and Lamsdorf remained VIIIB.
End December 1943: Stalag VIIIB Lamsdorf and VIIIB Zweilager Teschen separated. The stalag at Teschen became Stalag VIIIB, and VIIIB & VIIIF at Lamsdorf became Stalag 344.
January 1945: Camps evacuated on the ‘Long March’ to the west, through the winter of 1945, ahead of the Russian advance. (Both camps and their many associated Arbeitskommandos were evacuated).

With thanks to many sources, including Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Follow these links for more information about Stalag VIIIB Teschen:

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