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Prisoners of War

 

Please take the time to enjoy a small selection of the artifacts that we have on display at the Museum of World War II. Every artifact in our collection has its own history, and ties to human lives. Each artifact has a small section of its story told here.

You can use this map to jump to any section of the Museum of World War 2 to view a selection of the artifacts displayed there.

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This section contains artifacts specifically about Prisoners of War. This section includes drawing by prisoners in Colditz facility, logs, artifacts and diaries from a variety of locations around the war.

Map of the Museum

 

German warning poster to Prisoners Of War, warning them not to attempt escape.

Prisoner of War Log Book, elaborately illustrated, detailing life in SAGAN, a German POW camp.

 

"This Log-book gives a wonderfully vivid picture of a Kriegie Camp--with its sordidness, its discomforts and its hardships.  Moreover, it portrays Kriegie life--that period of seemingly endless longing, which will always form a gap in the lives of those who experienced it.  But, more than either of these, this book has given expression to the Kriegies themselves--the men who are forced just to wait.  When not concerned with the immediate problems of food and heat, they dream of the past, of the future, and of what might have been.  And, had the war been different (and in war, it is all a matter of breaks), the extent of their service would have been more spectacular, but not I think less full.  What counts is that they freely chose to take the risks, and in spite of their apparent bitterness against those who took a safer, softer road, if they had their decision to make over again, their choice would still be the same."

 
 

COLDITZ

The Museum’s collection of the sketch books, artifacts and papers of Brigadier Anderson and Alan Campbell give a real life insight into the most famous “escape proof” prison for all the Allied considered high risks by the Germans.
Colditz watercolors and sketches by British prisoners at Colditz.
 
Colonel Schmidt Commandant Colditz Courtyard

Reinhold Eggers

 

Hand-crafted wooded chess board and pieces made by Danny Walmer and used by him and other prisoners of the Japanese.

Half of a checkerboard use by POWs.

 

Douglas Bader, RAF officer who flew a Spitfire despite the loss of both legs. Letter written Aug. 25, 1941, months after his capture after being shot down over France.

Polish Flyer's scrapbook with seven wing insignia on the front cover, each made from the metal material salvaged from toothpaste tubes.

 

American prisoner of war diary written on the back of cigarette package wrappers.  "On June 20, Sgt. Teague was shot in the back.  Charge--insulting a guard.  He died."

 

ILLUSTRATIONS FROM POW JOURNALS

"Hey, Mom! Where's My Medals?"

 

"Keep Your Chin Up!"

"Who said, 'There's never smoke without fire'?"
 
Entries from POW diaries

Map drawn by a POW showing how he was moved around by the Germans.

 

Ledger book from the concentration camp at Innsbruck, where Hitler had directed Heinrich Himmler to consolidate the upper-echelon of the political prisoners from other camps.  This book and other related documents were signed by a number of them at the time of their liberation, including King Leopold III of Belgium; President of the Reichsbank Hjalmar Schlacht; Raoul Wallenberg's colleague Karl Edquist; German General Franz Halder; Winston Churchill's nephew, Captain Peter Churchill; the family of Von Stauffenberg, who had planted the bomb to kill Hitler on July 20, 1944; Leon Blum, Prime Minister of France; and Kurt von Schuschnigg, Prime Minister of Austria.

 


An early report to Lord Mountbatten, the Supreme Allied Commander of the South East Asia Command, regarding atrocities committed by the Japanese towards Allied POW's in Burma and Siam.

Entitled Summary of Atrocities Revealed by Prisoners Ex Rangoon Jail and Three British PW EX SIAM. June 23rd, 1945.

  1. Deliberate Torture.
    1. PW was forced to drink a bucket of water, he was then strung up and hit across the belly until the water gushed forth from his mouth, nose and ear.
      (Result of attempted escape from one of the BURMA/SIAM Railway camps).
    2. PW forced by continual bayonet prods to stand hatless, arms raised, staring at the sun.  After collapse was savagely kicked and finally bayoneted to death 8 hrs later.
      (Result of knocking out Jap sentry who assaulted PW for taking a present from a Siamese.  BURMA/SIAM Railway camp.)
    3. Bamboo splinters were forced under the nails of an RAF officer during interrogation.
      (MAGWE BURMA Dec 1942)
    4. Naked victims hands tied behind his back then roped through hands clear of the floor.  Lighted candle then applied to testicles.
      (Frequent form of torture RANGOON Jail)
    5. Staked down, beaten on the muscles and eyes gauged.
      (RAF pilot under interrogation RANGOON ? Feb ’42.)
  2. Brutal neglect.
    1. Four USAAF survivors were badly burnt when captured.  Two soon died.  The other two were neglected to such an extent that their faces, ears and hands were covered with maggots.  They both died in agony sometime later.
      (RANGOON Jail. Nov. 1943.)
    2. “Saw X go mad, put into solitary confinement and died.”
      (Statement by PW ex RANGOON Jail.)
    3. Badly wounded RAF navigator beaten up after capture.  In great agony from being kicked in his already wounded stomach.  Received no attention until 5th day when cotton wool was stuffed into his wound.
      (RANGOON ? Nov. 1944.)
    4. When a prisoner was burning with fever or shivering with chills, Japs would frequently pour a bucket of cold water over them and then laugh at the results.
      (WHATMORE.  Place and date unspecified.)
    5. Reprisals following an escape resulted in death of 20 PW.  5 sick PW died in one day due to starvation and lack of water.
  3. General.
    The general picture revealed confirms previous reports.  Total absence of medical care.  Undernourishment to near starvation.  No clothing supplied, PW often nothing but a loin cloth and bare foot.  Diseases due to malnutrition and dysentery prevalent.  (213 out of 500 Dutch PW died in RANGOON Jail between Oct. ’42 and Feb ’43 mostly from Dysentry.)  All who can stand are made to work.  Work included bomb disposal, AA sites, docks.
    Conditions in the BURMA/SIAM Railway camps were very much worse than in RANGOON. 
 

Manuscript record of a trial of an American POW by fellow prisoners for drawing an extra ration of soup which he then exchanged for bread. March 7, 1943.

 
 

Typewritten copy of the Barth Bugle, published in Stalag Luft I, that belonged to Colonel Greening, who flew with Doolittle on the raid against Tokyo and was later shot down in Italy and captured by the Germans.

 
 

Cooking Stove made out of discarded Red Cross foot cans used in Stalag Luft I or III.

Diary kept at Stalag Luft I.

 

A fabric covered shield with nine insignia made from lead collected from the vacuum seals on Red Cross corned beef cans. Made in Stalag Luft I by an American POW.