In the period pre-dating the establishment of a registered charity, Philip Baker organised a number of seminars, conferences and tours
The activities that have been organised in the past are Lamsdorf tours and POW Days. The 75th anniversary event unfortunately had to be cancelled because of the Covid pandemic, which was very disappointing, but perhaps something similar could be organised for the 80th anniversary.
The tours began in September 2005, the first being organised in response to Charles Saunders’ query as to whether it was possible to visit the site of Stalag VIIIB (344) Lamsdorf. In those days I was a tour operator and I was fully equipped to organise tours that complied with the The EU Package Travel Directive. After my retirement from the travel business I could no longer do this, but it was possible (and still is as far as I am aware) to arrange a tour in which the participants organise and pay for their own flights and accommodation and meals. It becomes a ‘package tour’, and thus subject to the regulations, if what the organiser offers and the participants pay for, are more that two services. In my case, from 2011 onwards, the participants paid me for the coach travel in Poland and for my own services (ie my flights and accommodation) as tour leader. Everything else they paid for directly themselves.
The main component of the tours was the day spent at Łambinowice, but the tours always started at Krakow with a visit to the Commonwealth cemetery there, and with the optional opportunity to visit Auschwitz. En route from Krakow to Opole (the base from which to visit Łambinowice) we usually visited a working party site, the location depending on the requests of group members, and the small museum at the former Blechhammer. On several occasions after the main tour, at the request in advance of some group members, an extension tour was arranged following a route of the Long March.
The last two tours were in 2018.
At the moment the Łambinowice museum is closed, possibly for two years, for renovations, though I am sure that visits to the site are still possible. Should further tours be considered, I would certainly be willing to give advice on organising them if that would be helpful. There are tour operators in the UK who will organise bespoke group or individual tours, including battlefield tours companies (though it doesn’t necessarily have to be one of those). These tours would be far more expensive than those I organised in the past though. After I retired from the travel business I sought quotations from some of these companies. As part of their packages they always offered ‘expert guides’ but in fact it seemed that they did not really have any guides with any special knowledge about prisoners of war and the camps. We are undoubtedly the only experts in this field.
The Online Memorial and Museum of Prisoners of War is not only about Lamsdorf of course, and there are other POW camp locations that it is possible to visit. I once prepared an itinerary for Canadian Battlefield Tours for a Stalag Luft III & Colditz tour, though in fact this never took place. Facebook groups dedicated to other POW camps often discuss visits or tours to those places, and if we build a friendly relationship with the operators of these groups it might well be possible to establish a section of our new website dedicated to visiting the sites of POW camps.
There have been four of these:
2015 x 2 Weston-super-Mare (near Bristol) – 40 participants on each occasion
2016 London – 70 participants
2017 Manchester -150 participants
In each case Anna Wickiewicz from the Lamsdorf museum participated.
In Weston-super-Mare the accommodation was provided free of charge by the Royal Air Forces Association in their club, and they also provided catering.
In London the venue was The Rising Sun pub, near Victoria Station, which was also free.
The pub closed for the day on our behalf and they provided catering.
In Manchester the venue was The People’s History Museum, for which the hire cost £960, plus catering charges.
The agendas for these events was generally to have a presentation about Lamsdorf camp by Anna Wickiewicz, with a video and a question and answer session. After that an important part of the day was for the participants to share information with each other and to show documents, photos etc that they had brought with them. At the POW Days in Weston-super-Mare there was also an exhibition about Stalag VIIIB (344).