POWs in Germany

The Germans were hardly the genial hosts, whether you were a POW during World War I or World War II. There was severe punishment for escape attempts, there were meager rations and drafty bunkhouses, and there were irregular deliveries of packages from the Red Cross. Much of the ill treatment was based on deprivation; as World War II dragged on, it became clear to every POW that the Third Reich’s resources were being stretched thin, its attentions increasingly diverted from taking care of its prisoners. War’s end brought a curious reversal: Nazi prison guards begging to be taken in by their former captives, in fear of advancing and vengeful Russian troops.

Featured Story: Milton M. Stern

"Things I Must Do on Return Home. I. Get Married & Start Family. II. Try to get in touch with other members of my crew."

Milton Stern’s memoir of life in a German POW camp begins with a series of lists (Foods I Want to Eat, Books I Wish to Acquire), continues with vivid descriptions of his year in captivity, and concludes with poems he composed in the stalag. Here and in his video interview, he details his fears of being set apart from the other prisoners as a Jew, but by the time he was captured, the Germans appeared too distracted by the advancing Allies and Russians to worry about him.