Report of the International Committee of the Red Cross
Visit of Oct. 5 & 6, 1944 by Mr. Biner
Stalag Luft IV

Camp Leaders:

Sgt. Richard M. Chapman (American)
Sgt. Victor R. Clarke (British)
Camp Leader elected but not recognized by the Commandant: Sgt. Francis Paules (American)


7089 Americans:

2146 in camp A
1959 in camp B
1913 in camp C
1071 in camp D

886 British:
606 British Isles
147 Canadians
37 Australians
22 New Zealanders
8 South Africans
1 Norwegian
2 French
58 Poles
5 Czechs

General remarks:

The first 64 arrivals entered Stalag Luft IV on May 14, 1944. Two weeks later, Stalag Luft IV was officially opened. Since then the strength has continually increased by arrivals of small groups of about a hundred men, until July 18th and 19th; on which date the strength was doubled by the arrival of 2400 Americans and 800 British from Stalag Luft VI. The strength reached the present figure by groups coming from Wetzlar and, each week from Budapest... Except for the medical personnel, the chaplains and 9 privates of the British Army, the prisoners are all American and British NCOs.


Stalag Luft IV is situated about 20 Kilometers to the south of (Belgard) and is placed in (the center of a) clearing…


The camp is divided into five distinct parts separated by barbed wire fences. Camps (compounds) A, B and C contain Americans only. Camp D contains American and British. The main camp (vorlagar) includes the infirmary, food and clothing storerooms. Today, Stalag Luft IV has twice too many inmates. The men are housed in forty wooden huts, each hut containing 200 men. The huts are only partially finished; new arrivals are expected and more huts are being erected. The dormitories have been prepared for 16 men in two tiered beds. But there are not sufficient beds for some rooms contain up to 24 men each. At camps A and B , a third tier of beds has been installed, whereas beds have been removed from camp D. There is not a single bed in camp C and 1900 men sleep on the floor. 600 of them have no mattress, only a few shavings to lie on. Some have to lie right on the floor. Each prisoner has two German blankets.

None of the huts can be properly heated. The delegate only saw five small iron stoves in the whole camp. Some of the huts in camp D have no chimneys.

Each camp has two open air latrines and the huts have a night latrine with two seats, The latrines are not sufficient as they are not emptied often, the only lorry for this work being used elsewhere.

The prisoners have no means of washing; there are no shower baths as there is only one coal heated geyser in the camp of 100 liters for 1000 men. Fleas and lice are in abundance; no cleansing has been done.


The German food is no worse than at other camps. The first day of the delegates visit, the men had received bad meat, which was however, taken back again and the next day the meat was quite fresh. On the other hand, prisoners cannot check the distribution of rations, the official weekly menus not having been posted in the camp.

Each camp has a kitchen for preparing German rations, except the main camp (Vorlagar). Each camp has five or six cooking utensils, holding 3000 liters; these utensils are sufficient for cooking German rations, but there are no means of cooking food from collective consignments, which it is forbidden to prepare outside the kitchens.

Collective consignments – Food:

Since Stalag Luft IV has been opened, camp leaders have never been in a position to make proper check on the arrival and distribution of collective consignments, which was still possible recently in other camps in Germany. The camp Commandant has taken no account of the camp leaders complaints regarding this matter and the latter are not allowed to be present when the consignments arrive at the station. The distribution is entirely dealt with by the camp authorities, who distribute supplies or stop them on their own initiative. The same applies to the invalid food parcels, part of which are stored with the other Red Cross Parcels; doctors have no access to Invalid Parcel stocks. The ten last consignments form Geneva were handled without any checking by the camp leader who, when the corresponding receipts were presented to him for signature on Aug. 28, refused to sign them….

Five wagons of American food parcels arrived in the camp at the beginning of August. On September 17th, the contents of the wagons were shown to the camp leaders and they were informed that the trucks had been opened and that the total number of parcels had not arrived.

As already mentioned, Stalag Luft VI was evacuated on July 14-15. The collective consignments on July 12th was 52,000 parcels. Prisoners received 12,000 parcels to take with them to the new camp and the 40,000 remaining parcels were to have been equally divided between the two new camps, when evacuation had finished. Up to this day, the 20,000 parcels due for Stalag Luft IV have never arrived. It is not possible to state if Stalag 357 (to where most of the British were evacuated) received the parcels, which should have been sent there. It is feared that those 40,00 parcels will never reach their proper destination.

It must also be said that a great number of the 6000 parcels, which the prisoners brought with them from Stalag Luft VI, must have been lost (in view of the very bad conditions in which the journey took place, when the new prisoners were obliged to abandon a great number or had them taken away). On account of this shortage, the American prisoners at Stalag Luft IV have had to go on half rations since their arrival, except for a period of two weeks. The Americans still have 10,00 parcels, making a week and a half reserves. On the other hand, the British have about 7000 parcels which would cover their needs over four and a half months with the new system of rationing.

British prisoners had to abandon over a million cigarettes and 150 kilos of tobacco during the transfer from one camp to another. Up to present, only a quarter of these cigarettes has been issued to prisoners (British and American).


Clothing consignments, which should have arrived at Stalag Luft IV, have also not been spared. On leaving Stalag Luft VI, each prisoner had a proper outfit. There remained in camp about 2500 pairs of boots, 3000 tunics, 2500 trousers, 3000 shirts, and many other articles. Up to the present nothing has been rendered to prisoners of Stalag Luft IV except 155 pairs of boots, although they are in great need of clothing. They also had to abandon a great deal of their clothing on the way or it was taken from them upon their arrival; up to now, only a part of the clothing has been given back. The same applies to the Red Cross bags, which are indispensable for storing clothing. Prisoners coming from Wetzlar had the same experience. A great many prisoners from Luft VI have not been able to change their clothes for over a month and have been deprived of their toilet requisites.

The camp leaders have no control over clothing stocks at Stalag Luft IV. They could not therefor discuss this matter with the delegates; they have never been shown notices of arrival of such consignments from Geneva. Distribution is entirely in the hands of the camp authorities and the needs of each camp are not taken into account. When distribution takes place, the camp leaders are not asked to state the quantities required. There is urgent need for the distribution of great coats and warm clothing for the prisoner’s comfort in the cold season, which has just started, especially in view of the lack of heating.

Generally speaking, the prisoners clothing is in bad condition; they are very short of underclothing, due in some instances the fact that shirts from the British Red Cross consignments have not been distributed… In this connection it must be mentioned that in many cases, and especially in camp A, German workmen were met, who wore American effects. On Sept. 23rd a lorry and three trailers left (the Vorlagar) with new American clothing sent by the Red Cross.

Medical Attention:

Senior American Medical Officer - Capt. Henry Wynsen M.C.
Senior British medical Officer - Capt. Robert Pollock

Besides the two doctors mentioned, there are an American Doctor, a British Doctor and British Dentist working in the infirmary, also 14 medical personnel.

The infirmary has 132 beds, which figure represents 1 ¼ % of the camp strength. This figure should be at least 3% for 8000 prisoners, i.e. 240 beds. The infirmary is full up and slight cases have to be left in the huts. Such slight operations as opening of abscesses, local anesthetics, intravenous piqures and so forth are carried out in a small operating ward. More serious cases are sent to Stargard or Belgard hospitals. The general state of health is not bad. The doctors complain of the frequency of skin trouble, which cannot be avoided with the present deficient sanitary arrangements. There are not sufficient medical supplies and the doctors would be grateful if a large quantity of medical supplies and instruments could be sent…

There are not sufficient medical personnel, but it’s not recommended to ask for personnel from other camps. There are enough qualified medical assistants among the airmen, who would be quite prepared to help, if authorized by the camp authorities.

Next to the infirmary are two huts, one of which is used principally by the medical personnel. The doctors are shut into their rooms at 6pm and cannot come out until the next morning. Medical attention to patients in the second hut is difficult on account of this ruling…

An American doctor, Capt. Wilber McKee who assisted in the infirmary, is on bad terms with the Camp Commandant. He is forbidden to practice.

 Recreation, intellectual and spiritual needs:

Classes were started on September 18, 1944 at Stalag Luft IV. Groups were organized and specialists teach all branches. There are classes in English literature, French conversation, Italian for beginners, physiology, practical science, aviation, navigation, etc. It must be pointed out that on account of the distance between the four different camps, this organization can only benefit a part of the camp. The above details apply to camp D for British and Americans. Up to now 318 students have entered for classes. No classroom being available, classes are held in laundries and huts for two hours in the morning and afternoon; 43 students from various Universities are preparing for examinations. There are 246 students in camp D.. They are short of writing materials and have to use cigarettes and wrapping paper.. The YMCA recently sent them a small parcel of pencils, but they are still greatly in need. The camp has a technical library of 1900 books brought from the general library at Stalag Luft IV.


As in other camps, the student’s request past examinations papers especially those of London University. The Royal Society of Arts… etc.

No sport is possible for the few sport requisites, which the prisoners were able to bring with them from the former camp, can no longer be used.

There are several excellent musicians (at) these camps, but they have unfortunately no instruments. A jazz band at the camp B, which included first class musicians, only possesses a chromatic accordion, a double bass and a guitar.

Three chaplains are attached to the camp:

Capt. Rev. T.J. B. Lynch - Catholic chaplain
Civilian Internee Rev. A. Jackson - Protestant clergyman
Capt. Rev. G.R. Morgan - Church of England

Religious services are held in a room called the Red Cross Room which serves for various other purposes (storing books, clothes etc). The room is unfortunately not large enough to hold many prisoners wishing to attend. The Catholic chaplain urgently requests the return of certain church furnishings, which were taken away during the transfer from one camp to another. He is particularly anxious concerning his consecrated altar, and his personal copy of the New Testament. The chaplains also report that a great many prisoners were deprived of their religious tokens on arriving at Stalag Luft IV and that these tokens have not been given back. They further complain that they cannot journey from the different camps to accomplish their ministry. Their activity is greatly hampered by the fact that they may only go from one part of the camp to another accompanied by sentries. They also experience difficulties once on the way. The Protestant chaplain also complains of the confiscation of Bibles, religious books and church furnishings. He also has great difficulty in carrying out his ministry. The Protestant Chaplain Jackson, civilian internee, has been deprived of his black cassock, which has not been returned in spite of repeated requests. He is obliged to wear a grey coat and carries out his ministry, when the camp authorities give him the possibilities of doing so.


As in other camps, the mail service is affected by actual circumstances. The prisoners however, are inclined to consider that no steps are being taken to help matters. Mail leaves the camp once a week. The camp leaders complain that they are not allowed to wire to Geneva.


Stalag Luft IV is a bad camp although the situation, the accommodation and the food do not differ from those in other camps…

Final interview with Camp Leaders:

Before leaving camp the delegate was allowed to again see American camp leader Chapman and the British Camp leader Clarke and inform them of the result of his recent interview with German officers…

The American Chapman came to camp in May with the first arrivals. He was officially in charge until the large number of prisoners from Luft VI necessitated the election of an American Camp leader Paules (who had previously acted as Camp Leader at Luft VI and who was elected to do so with a 90% majority). The camp Commandant never sanctioned the vote and would not change his attitude… Mr. Chapman declared in a letter written during the delegates visit addressed to the Commandant that he never considered himself to be American Camp Leader, consequently he could not be recognized by Geneva. He therefore resigned his temporary duties in favor of his comrade Paules, whom he greatly esteems and whose qualities he appreciates. The delegate asked him to remain in office, in the American prisoner’s interests, and requested Mr. Chapman to bear his heavy burden in cooperation with his comrades.

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