US Commandant of Horazdovice POW Camp

German Heer 1935-1945.

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dsetzer
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US Commandant of Horazdovice POW Camp

Post by dsetzer » Sat May 15, 2010 4:21 am

In the first days of the cease-fire in May of 1945 the Americans fenced in a large open field near the town of Horazdovice, Czechoslovakia to receive the thousands of German soldiers who were forced to surrender.

The camp was run by elements of an American armor division who happened to be in the area around Pilzen when the cease-fire went into effect.

I would like to know more about the commandant. My understanding is that this man served first as an officer in the German army (!) until 1934 when he was forced to flee. He joined the US Army and rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel by the end of the war.

Does anyone know this individual's name? What armored units were in the area? Or, any other information about the POW camp at Horazdovice?


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Dan Setzer
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John W. Howard
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Re: US Commandant of Horazdovice POW Camp

Post by John W. Howard » Sat May 15, 2010 2:18 pm

Hello Dan:
I am pretty sure it was an armored division from the US 3rd Army which entered this area. Let me look at a few things and see if I can find something more definite for you. Best wishes.
John W. Howard

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Re: US Commandant of Horazdovice POW Camp

Post by John W. Howard » Wed May 19, 2010 1:56 pm

Hello Dan:
From what I have found, it looks like every armored division in the 3rd Army claims to have liberated Horazdovice :shock: The question is which was the real liberator and which was responsible for setting up the temporary POW camp and exercised command over it. There was mention of CCB of the 4th AD being in the area; it was commanded by Col. Creighton Abrams at that time, but 9th AD and 16th AD are mentioned too. Let me keep looking and see if we can pin down the movements of the various AD's to discover which ended the war at Horazdovice and most likely set up the POW compound. Best wishes.
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Re: US Commandant of Horazdovice POW Camp

Post by John W. Howard » Wed May 19, 2010 2:24 pm

Hello Dan:
It looks like the US 16th Armored Division was the unit which was in Pilzen at the end of the war. If your info is correct then it was the division in charge of the Horazdovice POW Camp. I will keep looking. Best wishes.
John W. Howard

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PA. Dutchman
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Re: US Commandant of Horazdovice POW Camp

Post by PA. Dutchman » Wed May 19, 2010 2:38 pm

I don't believe this is directly related to your communications, but it does concern an American POW Camp for Germans. It is as I said before every military and government involved with World War Two commmitted some very wrong actions. This does NOT speak highly of an American POW camp which to me an American is troubling very troubling.

Several times I have read and I hear personally one German POW state how well and fairly that he was treated as a German POW in the United States. Sadly this was not the case in this POW camp.

http://members.iinet.net.au/~gduncan/ma ... _axis.html

STARVATION AT REMAGEN

After the capture of the Remagen Bridge, the US Army hastily erected around 19 Prisoner of War cages around the bridge-head to hold an estimated one million prisoners. The camps were simply open fields surrounded by concertina wire. Those at the Rhine Meadows were situated at Remagen, Bad Kreuznach, Andernach, Buderich, Rheinbach and Sinzig. The German prisoners were hopeful of good treatment from the GIs but in this they were sadly disappointed. Herded into the open spaces like cattle, some were beaten and mistreated. No tents or toilets were supplied. The camps became huge latrines, a sea of urine from one end to the other. They had to sleep in holes in the ground which they dug with their bare hands. In the Bad Kreuznach cage, 560,000 men were interned in an area that could only comfortably hold 45,000. Denied enough food and water, they were forced to eat the grass under their feet and the camps soon became a sea of mud. After the concentration camps were discovered, their treatment became worse as the GIs vented their rage on the hapless prisoners.

In the five camps around Bretzenheim, prisoners had to survive on 600-850 calories per day. With bloated bellies and teeth falling out, they died by the thousands. During the two and a half months (April-May, 1945) when the camps were under American control, a total of 18,100 prisoners died from malnutrition, disease and exposure. This extremely harsh treatment at the hands of the Americans resulted in the deaths of over 50,000 German prisoners-of-war in the Rhine Meadows camps alone in the months just before and after the war ended. It must however be borne in mind that with the best will in the world it proved almost impossible to care for such a huge number of prisoners under the strict terms of the Geneva Convention. The task of guarding these prisoners, numbering around 920,000, fell to the men of the US 106th Infantry Division. The Remagen cage was set up to accommodate 100,000 men but ended up with twice that number. On the first afternoon 35,000 prisoners were counted through the gate. About 10,000 of these required urgent medical attention which in most cases was completely absent. All roads leading to the camps were clogged with hundreds of trucks bringing in even more prisoners, sent to the rear by the advancing 9th US Army. By April 15, 1945, 1.3 million prisoners were in American hands. At war's end, 1,056,482 German prisoners were held in US camps in Europe, 692,895 were classified as Prisoners of War and 365,587 classified as DEF's (Disarmed Enemy Forces) In May, 1945, the number of prisoners held in Allied camps in northern Europe numbered 5,235,700.

Tourists, cruising down the Rhine today can pick out a small memorial and plaque built on the site of the former POW cage. In the Remagen cemetery there are 1,200 graves and at Bad Kreuznach, 1,000 graves.
Sincerely yours,
PA.Dutchman

dsetzer
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Re: US Commandant of Horazdovice POW Camp

Post by dsetzer » Thu May 20, 2010 2:41 am

Yes, of course, you are right, the Wiesenlager (Meadow Camps) were horrible.

I am doing a translation of a German soldier's memoirs who was interrned at Horazdovice. That camp was not nearly on the scale of the ones at Remagen and elsewhere inside the German boarder. His narrative is very explicit in describing the hardships suffered by the men inside the fence.

The US Army was totally overwhelmed by the task. I picture their inital attitude to be, „Our boys have fought hard to get this far, and we are not going to short them on rations and supplies to the benefit of our enemies.“

Couple that with the fact that the 'jailers' were combat troops who had no police or prison training or experience whatsoever and it was a clear recipe for a disaster. The German soldier's memoir mentions that the prisoners were being fed solely from captured Wehrmacht stores. For the most part they had to rely on captured medical personnel inside the fence for the meager medical care they could receive.

That being said, the commandant at Horazdovice was not indifferent to the plight of the POW's in his charge. When they noticed that the death rate among the youngest internees, the 12 – 14-year old child-solders and Volkssturm was greater than the older men, he took steps to get the children better food and care.

This German soldier also got very fair treatment when he was interrogated by three Jewish intelligence officers. Initially he was suspected of being a Super-Nazi.

Horazdovice was in what would become the Soviet sector. All of the POW's had fought against the Russians and according to the Allied agreement they were to be turned over to the Russians. Nevertheless, the American commandant faced down the Russians at the point of a gun barrel, then took it upon himself to evacuate as many of the German POW's as he could before finally being ordered to yield the camp to the Russians.

The German officers in the camp scornfully called the German-American commandant a traitor to his country, yet he ended up saving the lives of many of the men who called him that.

As for the Jewish intelligence officers see:

The Ritchie Boys at http://ritchieboys.com/

and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Eem4BJDfQ4 for the full 90-minute documentary.

.
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Dan Setzer
Baltimore, MD USA
Memoirs of a German Private in WWII:
http://www.DanSetzer.us/Mork

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John W. Howard
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Re: US Commandant of Horazdovice POW Camp

Post by John W. Howard » Thu May 20, 2010 1:35 pm

Hello Dan:
The After-Action Reports for the 16th AD should be very short; Pilzen was their first real action. The question is how they are organized; I suppose each battalion had its own, because battalions were flexibly assigned to Combat Commands. There should be some mention in the reports about the establishment of the initial POW enclosures, but after awhile AAR's usually end. I am not sure exactly which records you might want to consult; perhaps Operations. It would help if we could determine which sub-unit or units of 16AD had command of the enclosure. Besy wishes.
John W. Howard

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PA. Dutchman
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Re: US Commandant of Horazdovice POW Camp

Post by PA. Dutchman » Thu May 20, 2010 4:59 pm

dsetzer wrote:Yes, of course, you are right, the Wiesenlager (Meadow Camps) were horrible.

I am doing a translation of a German soldier's memoirs who was interrned at Horazdovice. That camp was not nearly on the scale of the ones at Remagen and elsewhere inside the German boarder. His narrative is very explicit in describing the hardships suffered by the men inside the fence.

The US Army was totally overwhelmed by the task. I picture their inital attitude to be, „Our boys have fought hard to get this far, and we are not going to short them on rations and supplies to the benefit of our enemies.“

Couple that with the fact that the 'jailers' were combat troops who had no police or prison training or experience whatsoever and it was a clear recipe for a disaster. The German soldier's memoir mentions that the prisoners were being fed solely from captured Wehrmacht stores. For the most part they had to rely on captured medical personnel inside the fence for the meager medical care they could receive.

That being said, the commandant at Horazdovice was not indifferent to the plight of the POW's in his charge. When they noticed that the death rate among the youngest internees, the 12 – 14-year old child-solders and Volkssturm was greater than the older men, he took steps to get the children better food and care.

This German soldier also got very fair treatment when he was interrogated by three Jewish intelligence officers. Initially he was suspected of being a Super-Nazi.

Horazdovice was in what would become the Soviet sector. All of the POW's had fought against the Russians and according to the Allied agreement they were to be turned over to the Russians. Nevertheless, the American commandant faced down the Russians at the point of a gun barrel, then took it upon himself to evacuate as many of the German POW's as he could before finally being ordered to yield the camp to the Russians.

The German officers in the camp scornfully called the German-American commandant a traitor to his country, yet he ended up saving the lives of many of the men who called him that.

As for the Jewish intelligence officers see:

The Ritchie Boys at http://ritchieboys.com/

and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Eem4BJDfQ4 for the full 90-minute documentary.

.
dsetzer,

THANK YOU FOR THIS INFORMATIVE AND IMPORTANT PIECE OF HISTORY OF THE WAR! This is the kind of thing one does not hear about and should. In the true story "As Far as My Feet Will Carry Me" when the German POW escapes from Siberia and a Russian Lead Mine several people helped him along the way.

One individual, who guessed who he was, and helped him greatly was a Jew who lost his family in the war. He told the German POW his family had died in the camps, but he said a person can only hate so much and for so long. If he could help this German POW to get back to his family he was going to help him and he did.
Sincerely yours,
PA.Dutchman

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Schultz
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Re: US Commandant of Horazdovice POW Camp

Post by Schultz » Mon May 24, 2010 3:51 pm

the 94th infantry division was in charge of this area at the time will see what else i can find.
"There ain't no sanity clause" The Damned

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Schultz
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Re: US Commandant of Horazdovice POW Camp

Post by Schultz » Mon May 24, 2010 7:30 pm

you might try here to:

Informacní centrum
Mestský úrad
Palackého námestí 2
268 01 Horovice
tel. 00420 311 513 482
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ChrisWinkelbauer
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Re: US Commandant of Horazdovice POW Camp

Post by ChrisWinkelbauer » Sat Jan 04, 2014 4:07 am

Hello
I see I come to this discussion very late, but thought I would add a footnote.

My father, and Austrian at the time, was held prisoner at Horazdovice in 1945. He and the remaining few lads that were with him at the time surrendered to the Americans and were treated quite well. My father was very young, and had no rank.

When the war ended, all prisoners should have been handed to the Russians. The Americans handed the officers to the Russians (their fate obvious), but the enlisted men and youngest were put onto a truck and driven to Passau, where they were quickly left to fend for themselves in the American zone. My father was able to beg a loaf of bread, and then walked many miles into Bavaria, where he knew some people on a farm. He survived and is today 87. He still lives in Maine.

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