APPENDIX - STALAG VII-A
ORIGINS AND OPENING OF THE CAMP
On September 22, 1939, Col. Nepf and a couple of doctors visited the site north of the town of Moosburg where a stalag (stammlager or "central camp") was planned. They were not impressed by either the ground or the situation. The site was determined to be a very poor choice because of a marshy, flat valley downier, a chemical manure plant in the direction of the town, a dairy, a private dwelling, and a few shacks.
The group's negative report was to no avail. Reasons for that specific site were apparently known in Munich and the decision to build became this order: "A camp had to be prepared here within 14 days; a camp for 10,000 POWs."
The first section to be constructed was a temporary delousing station in the chemical manure plant shed. In fact, the station was presented as a kind of demonstration object at a conference of camp doctors held in Berlin in 1940. The station did not, however, meet the demands of either the camp commander or the camp's hospital doctor.
Twenty-five tents were then put up for the prisoners, the first trainload of which arrived on October 19th. However, processing was delayed because of pouring rain and these 200 Poles and 900 Ukrainians spent the night aboard the train. The next day, it took fifteen hours to delouse these prisoners...two-thirds of whom were forced to stand in the rain, as the train had departed, and the shed only held 500 people.
Slowly, but surely, the camp became organized. The huts became occupied and two areas, far too small to be effective, were reserved for hospital treatment. On March 14th, 1940, a new delousing station was put into operation.
The camp administration had its hands full. The camp, initially intended for 10,000 prisoners with a German staff of 107 officers, civil servants and others, was soon bursting at the seams. The Allies' defeats in Flanders and France meant 1000 to 2500 new prisoners every night for quite some time. Soon, more than 98,000 had gone through the huts and tents.
Col. Nepf made a colorful list of the prisoners' nationalities in July and August of 1940. The internees had come from all parts of the world: the Mediterranean, Africa, all parts of Soviet Russia, all the countries of Europe, and Australia. All in all, Nepf counted 72 nations represented in forty huts and many more tents. Among them were 2000 medics - doctors and stretcher-bearers - and 170 military chaplains. Every day the prisoners were given 17,500 pounds of bread, 4400 pounds of meat, 66,000 pounds of potatoes, 660 pounds of salt and sugar, and 10,000 pounds of other assorted food stuffs (soup additives, cabbage, and other vegetables).
The main camp was spread over an area of 865 acres (1.35 square miles) and was separated from the outer camp where prisoners were processed and registered.
The prisoners were examined, registered on filing cards, given a registration number, and passed on to be deloused. Only then were they allowed to enter the huts. There were three sick-bays where 300 - 600 POWs went every day. Four French and two Polish doctors, along with ten French and six Polish medical assistants, and fifty French and Polish assistants, most of whom spoke German, cared for the sick under the supervision of German doctors.
A major problem initially was the state of the clothing of the newly-arrived prisoners. However, workshops were soon established, and the French and Poles in them were very busy repairing and sewing clothes and shoes. There was also a carpenter's shop, a smithy, a watchmaker, a repair shop for bicycles and electrical apparatus, and others.
The prisoners also worked outside the camp. They were paid in Reichsmarks by the paymaster's office in the camp, and were allowed to spend it in certain authorized shops in Moosburg.
Letters and parcels sent to and from the prisoners were inspected by fifty Germans, assisted by 180 French and Polish helpers. The translators were overworked due to the fact that 140,000 letters arrived weekly, while 70,000 were sent weekly by the POWs. All 210,000 had to be read by the translators. Also, 15,000 parcels arrived each week...with Christmas of 1940 taking the prize: 26 boxcars with 150,000 private parcels and 12 boxcars of Red Cross parcels arrived between December 10th and 19th.