Stalag IVB covering about 30 hectares (74 acres), was opened in September 1939. The first inmates were about 17,000 Polish soldiers captured in the German September 1939 offensive. For the first two months they dwelt under the open sky or in tents. Most of them were transferred further to other camps. In May 1940 the first French soldiers arrived, taken prisoner in the Battle of France. In 1941 British, and Australian soldiers arrived after the fall of Greece, and later in the year Russian POWs from the invasion of the Soviet Union. In September 1943, further numbers of British, ANZAC, and South African soldiers, previously captive in Italy, arrived after the Italian capitulation. In October 1944 several thousand Poles arrived, members of the Armia Krajowa ("Home Army") captured after the Warsaw Uprising, including several hundred women soldiers. In November 1944 the Polish women were transferred to other camps, mainly Stalag IVE (Altenburg) and Oflag IXC (Molsdorf). At the end of December 1944 about 7,500 Americans arrived from the Battle of the Bulge. At least 3,000 of them were transferred to other camps, mostly to Stalag VIIIA. On 23 April 1945 the Red Army liberated the camp. Altogether soldiers from 33 nations passed through the camp.
The British prisoners published two periodicals: the wall newspapers The New Times and a richly illustrated Flywheel.
The Flywheel was founded by Tom Swallow, and comprised pages from school exercise-books that carried hand-written articles with colour illustrations from whatever inks the editorial team could produce from stolen materials, like quinine from the medical room; these were stuck into place with fermented millet soup, kept from the meagre camp rations. One copy per issue was produced, to be circulated among members throughout the camp. When extracts were published in hardback format in 1987, the book ran to two reprints.
An additional periodical, The Observer was published between December 1943 and May 1944.
The camp's Welsh soldiers also created their own periodical called Cymro ("Welshman"), edited by prisoner William John Pitt. The magazines were produced between July 1943 and December 1944. Eight issues of the magazines were created, and out of these one was lost in the camp. Although most of the issues are in English, two pages are in Welsh. The manuscript was bought by The National Library of Wales at Sotheby’s in 1987.
From March 1944 to December 1944 the Scottish prisoners were served with their own papers, The Scotsman and The Scotsman Special Sports Supplement, edited, printed and illustrated in both colour and black and white by RAF pilot Warrant Officer Matthew MacSwan Robertson. The articles were written by the editor and other prisoners and concentrated primarily on Scottish matters, camp social life and the various sports events held in the camp. The Scotsman had seven issues and the Sports had twelve issues. Only one copy of each issue was produced and the papers were taken from hut to hut between publications for all to read.
When the Soviet Army arrived at the camp in April 1945, there were about 30,000 crowded into the facilities, of these 7,250 were British. About 3,000 had died, mainly from tuberculosis and typhus. They were buried in the cemetery in neighbouring Neuburxdorf, Bad Liebenwerda. Today a memorial and a museum commemorate them.
The Soviet liberators held the British and American prisoners in the camp for over a month. Individual soldiers "escaped" from the camp and made their way on foot to the American lines.
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