German POW Perspective

German POW Perspective

German POW Perspective

About 8,600 Australians became prisoners of the Germans during World War Two. German POW camps were generally known as "Kriegies" by the POWs, but were also divided into Stalags, Oflags, and Stalag Lufts. Oflags held officers, Stalags held men of other rank, and Stalag lufts held airmen. There were also camps known as Marlags, which were for captured naval servicemen. Prisoners were held in over 40 major camps all over Germany, from Lithuania to the Rhine. Individual camp layouts varied from camp to camp, but all were enclosed with barbed wire and contained guard towers, manned by armed German soldiers ready to shoot any escapees.

The German POW experience is often overshadowed by the terrible suffering in the Asian camps, but although the Germans generally obeyed the rules of the Geneva Convention, their prisoners did not escape suffering, disease and malnutrition. In 1945 many undernourished prisoners were forced to march in winter to evade liberation by Soviet forces. They were eventually freed by the advancing Allies.

Vicent Michael Egan

No.: NX23717
Name: Vincent Michael Egan
Rank: Corporal
Unit: 2/5 A.G.M
Date & Place of Birth: 25/08/1916, Sydney, NSW
Date & Place of Enlistment: 31/05/1940 Paddington, NSW
Places of Captivity: Salonika,Greece, StalagXXA Torun, Poland

Vince Egan enlisted in August of 1940 in the 2/5 Australian General Hospital, and left Sydney bound for the Middle East less than 2 months later, on the 19th October 1940. He served as a Medical Orderly in the Middle East and Greece before being taken prisoner by the Germans at Ekali, Greece on the 27 of April 1941. Despite being captured the hospital was still able to treat allied troops, in keeping with the Geneva Convention, and the tent hospital was moved to a new location, a building chosen by their captors, at Kokinia.

He was later moved via a cargo ship to Salonika, spending only a few days in the POW camp there before they began the long journey to Poland by cattle truck and goods train. They arrived in Torun at Stalag XXA, a non-workers camp, on the 31st of December 1941, where Vince spent the remainder of his captivity. In September of 1943 he was moved to different forts within Stalag XXA, continuing his medical duties throughout his imprisonment. He was eventually transferred to Britain, in the repatriation move, in mid-April of 1945.

The Cat and the Canary program postcard front postcard back prisoner identification tag photo

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Content owner: Museum Last updated: 07 Nov 2019 1:40pm

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