AMERICANS AT STALAG IVA

Since Stalag IVA housed Army personnel it did not receive United States Army Airforce aircrew shot down and captured. As a result, captured United States Army personnel are unlikely to have started arriving in the Stalag’s area until after D Day, 6 June 1944.
The first mention of POWs from the USA is in a Protecting Power report of 11 September 1944. This says that 50 POWs had arrived on 8 September, having been transferred to Dresden from Stalag IVB (Mühlberg an der Elbe), which acted as the transit/dispersal camp for the Wehrkreise. They had been captured in France and were housed in a camp at Noethnitzerstrasse, which is in the Plauen district of the city. They were housed in concrete barracks and on 11 September were starting work on building more such barracks for the increase in their numbers which was expected from the fighting in the West.
The report names Private Alejandre E. Braun as their Man of Confidence, the Protecting Power representative having addressed them all on the 1929 Geneva Convention. Without any representative at the main camp, the Chief British Man of Confidence, Sergeant Raymond Smith, acted for them, beginning with ordering American Red Cross parcels to be forwarded to the work camp.
A Protecting Power report of 22 January 1945 says that there were 367 American POWs in the Stalag IVA area. 299 of these were in 7 work camps, 5 were in at the castle at Hohnstein and 63 were in hospitals in Konigswartha, Smorkau and Elsterhorst.
So far as work camps are concerned, in the Dresden Links (left bank) area of the city there was 1 work camp holding 51 Americans. This was K1308, the camp in Noethnitzerstrasse where the POWs were building concrete barracks. Their Man of Confidence was Private Caressimo.
The Freital area of the city had 2 camps. One was K1311, based in the Schillerschule, an old school. There were 99 POWs here, with Private Jess Collins as the Man of Confidence. They were employed in road maintenance and pipe laying.
The second camp was K1320, housed in the gymnastic hall of the same school. The 49 POWs here worked on machines in the Buehler factory. Their Man of Confidence was Private C. R. Neff.
The remaining 100 American POWs were in unidentified camps in the Grossenhain area, 30 kilometres to the north of Dresden.
The final Protecting Power report, of 22 February 1945, makes clear that the number of American POWs allocated to Stalag IVA had significantly increased, there being 2226 in total. This can be put down to evacuations of camps further east and the influx of new POWs from the fighting in the west, notably in the Ardennes. The main camp was now overcrowded and the Americans had to be given British Red Cross parcels in the absence of supplies of their own, communications now being very difficult. By now the Americans had their own Chief Man of Confidence, W. F. Schack, who had arrived at the main camp from K1311 on 7 February. It is clear that many of the Americans were in a poor condition, having suffered on their way to the area from poor clothing in severe winter weather and inadequate nutrition. Cases of pneumonia had already caused a few deaths and there was concern about the condition of others.
By now, however, a significant preoccupation of both Chief Men of Confidence was the arrangements for the evacuation of the camp. How that occurred, or whether they were liberated by the Red Army, is not clear.

Created: August 2013.

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