SHORT HISTORY 1941


The evidence suggests that from June 1940 onwards the Elsterhorst site also held officers in Oflag IVE, mainly for French prisoners, but also others including some British. Moreover, it appears that the designation of Stalag IVA at that site ceased in February 1941, transferring then to the castle at Hohnstein.  A report in September 1941 by a Swiss Protecting Power representative confirms that Hohnstein Castle's designation had indeed by then changed to Stalag IVA, which it was to retain until the end of the war. The report describes the main camp (i.e. the castle) as housing 21 Belgians and 400 Frenchmen, but no British troops. It may be that the Swiss representatives were concerned only with the new arrivals, because from other information it appears that there were also still a substantial number of Polish POWs in the camp, possibly housed elsewhere on the site.
At this stage, Stalag IVA's Kommandant was Major Moritz and the Belgians had a Man of Confidence (Ybert Genevrois), reflecting the fact that, in the small network of arbeitskommandos (work camps) run from the castle, there were 2,155 Belgian prisoners. Of the Stalag's 286 British POWs none were in the castle. Sixty were in the Reserve Lazarett (POW military hospital) at Konigswartha, with 226 working in the kommando at Grube Erika, a lignite (brown-coal) mine in the north east of the District.This camp had a British Man of Confidence, Sergeant Ernest Miller.
The number of POWs under the conrol of  Stalag IVA rapidly increased, so that by the end of 1941 there were 22,553 prisoners, not including a substantial number of Russians. These prisoners were working in 712 kommandos. Three of these kommandos, the lignite mines of Grube Erika, Grube Brigitta and Grube Ostfeld, held 250 British prisoners, of whom 236 were English, 8 Australian and 6 New Zealanders.
The main camp, at the Stalag, served as the administrative centre for the large number of work camps under its control. It does not appear to have held any British prisoners and the man described as the British camp leader, Rowntree, was kept at the Postal Sorting Office at nearby Prossen, at which railway station the Red Cross parcels for the Stalag and its camps arrived. But it also appears that a significant number of Polish POWs were still held there, though the Swiss and ICRC reports make no mention of them, probably because their staff wrote separate reports for each nationality and those for the British prisoners are the ones to which access has been possible so far.
It is not yet clear  whether the castle at Hohnstein was also home to Oflag IVA as well as Stalag IVA, i.e. whether there were 2 separate but adjacent camps for officers and for men. Evidence for the existence of such an Oflag is hard to come by, though there are a couple of references to it, and it may be that it retained its role as a camp for Polish officers who had been there since the autumn of 1939. Either way, it is likely that the castle continued to hold several hundred men from a variety of nations.
Revised: January 2014

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