collection of stories, photos, art and information on Stalag Luft I
If you are a former Prisoner of War or a next of
kin of a POW, we invite you to sign and leave your email address so others that
come may find you. Please mention camp, compound, barracks and room numbers if
The Luftwaffe Interrogators at Dulag Luft - Oberursel
Solitary confinement cell at Dulag Luft
"Durchgangslager der Luftwaffe" or "Transit Camp of the Luftwaffe" was called
Dulag Luft by the POWs. It was located at Oberursel (13 km north-west of
Frankfurt-am-Main with a population of about 20,000) and was recognized as the
greatest interrogation center in all of Europe. Nearly all captured Allied
airmen were sent there to be interrogated before being assigned to a permanent
prison camp. While at Dulag Luft - Oberursel the prisoners
were kept in solitary confinement. The average stay in solitary was one or
two weeks. According to the Geneva convention a prisoner could not be kept
in solitary confinement for interrogation purposes for more than 28 days.
Of my Dad's crew, Dr. Kuptsow, Randy Anderson and Dad were all kept
in excess of 25 days!! With the large Bomber crews they would typically
pick a few of the crew to hold longer and press for information and rapidly
process the other crew members through and on to a permanent camp. This is
one of the few things we remember our Dad commenting on concerning his POW
days. We can still see him shaking his head and saying how horrible solitary
confinement was. He was locked all alone in a dark cell with nothing to
do, see, read or listen to for 24 hours a day, day after day !!
Excerpts from the book "Kriegie" by Kenneth W.
Simmons, published 1960.
"At Dulag Luft each prisoner was studied by several psychologists in
order to learn his likes, dislikes, habits and powers of resistance. The
method of procedure was then determined, and the machinery was set into
operation to destroy his mental resistance in the shortest possible time.
If the prisoner showed signs of fright or appeared nervous, he was threatened
with all kinds of torture, some of which were carried out, and he was handled in
a rough manner. Others were bribed by luxuries. They were traded
clean clothes, good living quarters, food and cigarettes for answers to certain
questions. Those who could neither be swayed nor bribed were treated with
respect and handled with care in the interrogator's office, but were made to
suffer long miserable hours of solitary confinement in the prison cells.
Nothing was overlooked by the German interrogators. They studied the
results of each interview, and devised new methods to gain the desired
information. Allied Air Corps Intelligence started a counter attack
against Dulag Luft by training every flier in its command on how to act as
a prisoner of war. Every method used to gain information from prisoners
was illustrated with films and lectures. (see our Documents page for examples) Interviews between prisoners and
their interrogators were clearly demonstrated to bring out the tactics of
the German interrogators. Name, rank and serial number became the byword
of the counterattack. Men were drilled and trained by Intelligence until
they knew exactly what to expect and what to do. Patriotism and loyalty
were stressed, and American airmen were shown the results of information the
Germans had secured from prisoners at Dulag.
The camp was built on level ground. There were large white rocks that covered
the length of the front lawn forming the words "Prisoner of War
Camp". The same identification was painted in white letters across
the roof of nearly every building. Dulag Luft was of great importance to
the Germans and they knew the Allies would never bomb it as long as it could be
identified from the air. The camp was estimated to cover about 500
acres, The boundaries of the camp were formed by two parallel fences
ten feet apart and they stood 12 feet tall, with trenches and barbed wire entangled
between them. Watch towers were spaced around the camp at one hundred yard
intervals. Trained dogs prowled the outer boundaries and heavily armed
pill boxes were scattered beyond the barbed wire."
Miscellaneous facts about Dulag Luft: Official German name was "Auswertestelle West" which means Evaluation
Number of Interrogators :
1943 - 35 - 40 1944 - 60 - 65
Number of prisoners passing through the camp:
1942 - 3,000 1943 - 8,000 1944 - 29,000
Hanns Scharff - Master Interrogator at Dulag Luft
Scharff was primarily an American 8th and 9th Air Force Fighter pilot
interrogator. He was considered the best of the interrogators at Dulag
Luft. He gained the reputation of magically getting all the answers he needed
from the prisoners of war, often with the prisoners never realizing that their
words, small talk or otherwise, were important pieces of the mosaic. It is
said he always treated his prisoners with respect and dignity and by using
psychic not physical techniques, he was able to make them drop their guard and
converse with him even though they were conditioned to remain
silent. One POW commented that "Hanns could probably get a
confession of infidelity from a nun." Hanns personally stepped
in to search for information that saved the lives of six US POWs when the SS
wanted to execute them. Many acts of kindness by Scharff to sick and dying
American POWs are documented. He would regularly visit some of the more
seriously ill POWs and arrange to make their accommodations more
humane. At one time the Luftwaffe was investigating him. After the war, he
was invited by the USAF to make speeches about his methods to military audiences
in the US and he eventually moved to the United States. General Jimmy
Doolittle was one of the first to extend the hand of friendship to Hanns after
the war, inviting him to a luncheon where they compared notes. Later he
was invited to the home of Col. Hub Zemke who thereafter would send Hanns what he
called a "Red Cross Parcel" every Christmas. And 38 years after
he was Hanns "guest" at Dulag Luft - Oberursel, Col. Francis
"Gabby" Gabreski was a guest of honor at Hanns 75th birthday
party. In the United States Scharff worked as a mosaic artist. His
works are on display in Cinderella's castle at Disney World.
Of course we must remember that Hanns was the exception at Dulag Luft and there
were other interrogators that were nothing at all like Hanns, whose treatment of
the prisoners was more of a physical and threatening nature.
There is an excellent book written about Hanns called
"The Interrogator" by Raymond F. Toliver.
with Col. Stark (the Senior Allied Officer at Dulag Luft - Wetzlar, the transit
camp). Scharff was seldom required to wear a uniform. Though only a
corporal, Scharff was believed by many POWs to be a high ranking officer.
Photo from the book, "The Interrogator' by Raymond F.
Banquet in October 1980, honoring Hanns Scharff attended by Gen. James H.
Doolittle, General Curtis LeMay, aces James L. Brooks and Robert M. DeHaven
Photo from the book, "The Interrogator'
by Raymond F. Toliver.
Comments about Hanns we received in our former guestbook:
Two new items. One of the bomber interrogators was Professor Bert Nagel. He
was a literature professor before the war and returned to that occupation
following the war. He participated on an exchange program with UC San Diego
where he lectured on Medieval literature for many years. He frequently would
drive up to L.A. from San Diego to meet with my father. He had a great sense
of humour and was a thoroughly nice person. I was contacted by the grandson
of a bomber pilot who was interrogated by professor Nagel. The pilots name
was Lt. Philip Moscherosch and he was a copilot on a B17. Lt. Moscherosch
told his grandson that his interrogator informed him that he had the same
surname as a famous 17th Century writer named Johann Moscherosch. When the
Lieutenant asked how the interrogator told him that he had been a professor
of literature before the war.
The second item I wanted to bring up is on June 23, 2002, The Los Angeles
Sunday Time had a front page article on how the U.S. armed forces are
gathering intelligence from members of the Taliban and El Qaida. The head of
the unit said to the reporters that he "keeps his desk stocked with copies
of a book, "The Interrogator," that is practically required reading for his
team." The article goes on to say that the book "Is the story of Hanns
Scharff, the master German interrogator who during World War II coaxed
secrets from countless American pilots while barely raising his voice." The
article is a page and a half long. Isn't it strange to think that the
interrogation techniques use by my father would have an effect on our war
I also wanted to let you both know I love reading the comments in your guest
book. Your site is doing a wondrous thing. Thank you again
Just checking back to see how your site is progressing. I think the
response you are getting is fabulous!!! Anyone who is interested to hear
more about my father Hanns Scharff (one of the interrogators at
Oberursel) is free to contact me. Hanns Claudius
PAUL T. HAGGERTY Hometown: NORTH KINGSTOWN RI 02852-2854 POW Camp: STALAG LUFT 1 Sent: 4.24 PM - 1/21 2002 To George
Klare, George, look down on this guest book to Jan 12. Check with Hanns
Shraff about Oberursel. His dad was the best interrogator there. He is the
subject of a book titled "The Interrogator". Very interesting. By the way,
no one who was interrogated by Hanns ever had a bad thing to say about him.
Good luck .
P.S. I was in Oberursel Dec 21-24, 1944, from there to Dulag Luft at
Wetzler, then to Stalag Luft I. North 2 block 207. Kriegie #7050.
Name: Hanns-Claudius Scharff Sent: 7:00 PM - 7/31 2000 My father was Hanns Joachim Scharff. We have met many of his former
prisoners under extremely cordial circumstances. In fact Gabby Gabreski and
his son came from Long Island to attend my dads 75th birthday. His birthday
gift was two rolls and a bottle of Cognac. During a speech, he told us he
was returning the gift my dad gave him on his way to the Stalag. I think you
have a great site. If I and my brother can be of any assistance to you
please let me know.
From: Brian Parkinson E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org Hometown: Umpqua, Oregon, 97486 USA Sent: 2:17PM - 9/16 2000
I worked with Hanns Scharff's son in Marketing at McDonnell Douglas, Long
Beach, for several years prior to my retirement in 1994. I heard several
comments from various sources about his fathers humanity in his capacity as
a Luftwaffe interrogator and his ability to "wheedle" information out of the
captors, many times without them really realizing what they were giving
My internet friend, Ed Kamarainen (an ex-POW from
Luft IV and survivor of "The Black March" who was shot down the same
day as my Dad, while bombing the same target) sent me his Seattle ex-POW chapter
book in which the POWs recount their stories. In reading this I found
this fascinating story concerning Lt. Haussmann written by Donald E.
Lt. Col. Hillman was shot down in October 1944 and sent to Dulag Luft -
Oberursel for interrogation. Lt. Haussmann, although normally a bomber
crew interrogator, was his interrogator. Hillman spent the full 28 days
there being interrogated once or twice a day by Lt. Haussmann. They became well
acquainted, if not friendly during his stay. Haussmann would take Hillman
to the radio communications center occasionally so he could listen to the
progress of the air battles in an effort to loosen him up and also to impress
him with the extent of their intelligence. Haussmann excitedly told
Hillman, "We got Zemke" when the famous fighter pilot Col. Hub
Zemke (and Senior Allied Officer at Stalag Luft I), was shot down and
arrived at Oberursel. Hillman was later sent to Stalag Luft III in Sagan.
Hillman and a fellow POW managed to escape during the "forced march"
the POWs were sent on to avoid the rapidly approaching Russian front.
After 5 days he and his companion who were disguised as French "displaced
persons" were caught while trying to get water from a farm well. They
were taken to the nearest prison camp in a small village a short distance
away. As Hillman entered the interrogation, he was utterly dismayed to see
Lt. Haussmann whom he had gotten to know so well in Dulag Luft -
Oberursel. Haussmann immediately recognized him and said, "What
are you trying to pull, Hillman?" Taking the offensive to try to
recover, Hillman said, "Ulrich, you know that Germany is losing the
war. You'd better look ahead to what's coming when Germany surrenders and
start making your plans." Haussmann interrupted, shutting him off and
shouted to the guard to throw them in solitary.
That night the cell door opened and Ulrich entered alone. "Just
what did you have in mind?" Hillman replied that if he helped them
make their way back to the front lines that he would help him out after the
war. Haussmann said he would give it some thought, but to keep it just
between them. The next day Haussmann came and took Hillman for a walk
through the village so they could talk more freely. While walking around
Hillman noticed barricades being constructed all about the town blocking the
possible entrances. This gave Hillman the basis for an escape plan.
He explained to Haussmann that if the Allies spearhead tank columns encountered
resistance they would back off and shell the area until the resistance was
neutralized. The Allies were not aware that US prisoners were being held
there. Hillman proposed that if he could get word to the Allied forces, it
would be possible to save the village and the prisoners. So Haussmann and
Hillman took the idea to the prison commandant who bought it. As a
cover Haussmann was given orders transferring the 2 prisoners to another camp in
the west. Since there were 2 prisoners another guard, Sgt. Walt Hanneman
(also a Luftwaffe interrogator), was assigned to help Haussmann. As
they made their way to the Allied front lines, Haussmann would obtain food and
water for them from the local villagers they encountered. When they
reached the Allied front lines Haussmann and Hanneman turned over their
weapons to Hillman and his companion and voluntarily became their prisoners of
Hillman wrote a report on the help Haussmann and Hanneman had given them. Then
Haussmann and Hanneman were flown to England for interrogation. Hillman
and his companion were processed back to the states and arrived back home
In August 1946, Hillman received a TWX from an Air Force acquaintance who
was running and Allied prison camp in Belgium, stating that one of his German
prisoners had a wild story about helping Hillman escape from a German prison
camp during the war. Hillman immediately replied giving the pertinent
facts regarding the part that Haussmann and Hanneman had played in his escape
and recommending that they be immediately released. In a few weeks Hillman
received confirmation that the two had returned to their homes.
Hillman later established contact with Haussmann at his home in Innsbruck,
Austria and began sending him monthly CARE packages that contained food and
other essentials hard to get in that occupied country. In the summer of
1949, while he was in Europe on business, Hillman drove to Haussmann's
home in Austria and knocked on the door. Haussmann was quite flabbergasted
when he recognized him and they spent several hours bringing each other up to
date. Hillman met Haussmann's wife and young son and daughter.
When the time came for Hillman to leave Haussmann insisted on driving as far as
he could with Hillman and they spent the night at a hotel. During this
time, Haussmann made his case that Austria was a poor place to raise his
children at that time. He asked Hillman to explore the possibilities of
emigrating to the United States. Hillman promised to look into the
situation. Upon his return to the US, Hillman queried into the US State
Department and a full investigation of Haussmann was done, including his
assistance in Hillman's escape. Hillman was then told if he
"vouched" for Haussmann, that he would never go on welfare, then the
Haussmann family could enter the U.S. and apply for citizenship. Hillman
agreed to do so and after several months of correspondence with Haussmann, he
arrived in Seattle. Haussmann was an intelligent and industrious man
and he soon made a career in the sportswear business. Neither
Haussmann nor Hillman have heard from Hanneman since 1945.
Click here to read some
of Ulrich Hausmann's very interesting memories of Adolph Galland, Göring and his "home
style" interrogation of 2 RAF pilots in his letters to
Phil Wright, written in 1996.
Waldschmidt - Bomber Crew Interrogator
A professor of Indiology at Gottingen University
before the war, he became one of the best Bomber Crew
interrogators at Oberursel.
"Canadian Wild Bill"
Englehardt - Fighter Pilot Interrogator
"Wild Bill" was Hans Scharff's assistant
interrogator. He was very proud of his years in Canada
before the WWII. His Canadian accent is well remembered by POWs whom
Professor Bert Nagel - Bomber
Was a literature professor before the war
and returned to that occupation following the war. He participated on an
exchange program with UC San Diego where he lectured on Medieval literature for
many years. He frequently would drive up to L.A. from San Diego to meet with
Hanns Scharff. He had a great sense of humor and was a thoroughly nice person.
Hanns Scharff's son, Hanns-Claudius Scharff,
was contacted by the grandson of a bomber pilot who was interrogated by
professor Nagel. The pilots name was Lt. Philip Moscherosch and he was a copilot
on a B17. Lt. Moscherosch told his grandson that his interrogator informed him
that he had the same surname as a famous 17th Century writer named Johann
Moscherosch. When the Lieutenant asked how the interrogator told him that he had
been a professor of literature before the war.
Otto Böhringer - Administration
Major Otto Böhringer was
born in 1895. He joined the Nazi Party on 1 May 1933. From 1939 to 1940 he
was a captain in a barrage balloon unit. In 1940 he returned to Mannheim to
run his factory that manufactured hydrants and water and oil meters.
Böhringer had met Killinger in Java, 1920-25. He visited Killinger at the
interrogation center in November 1942 and Killinger asked him to join his
staff. Böhringer agreed on the condition that he would be able to continue
managing his factory two days per week. He arrived at the center on 12
January 1943 as a captain and was promoted to major on 1 July 1943.
Following six weeks of orientation, he tried working as an interrogator, but
proved unsuitable after just six interrogations. No interrogations after
March 1943. His specialty was commercial intelligence, but the combination
of his poor English and the nonexistence of commercial information among air
crews made him unqualified for the job. He then became Killinger’s assistant
in charge of camp administration and the officers’ mess. In fact, he was a
sinecure with no command responsibilities. It was established that Böhringer
never acted as the center commandant during either Killinger’s or Junge’s
absence because either Killinger or Junge was always present. They were never
away from the center at the same time. But he did on occasion fill-in for Junge one day each week starting in November 1943
In truth, there was no permanent replacement for Junge, and Herbert Böttner
and Major Sandel rotated through the temporary position. Böhringer was 50
years old in 1945. Was held at the No. 4 Civilian Internment Camp,
Recklinghausen prior to the trial. He was acquitted of war crimes at the
Dulag Luft Trial after the war. See "The Aftermath" box below.
The accused at the Dulag Luft trial.
Photos of Dulag Luft - Oberursel
From the book "The Interrogator"
by Raymond F. Toliver
The Cooler at Oberursel
Dulag Luft - Wetzlar
at Dulag Luft - Oberursel the POWs were sent to Dulag Luft - Wetzlar
which was a transit camp located approximately 30 miles away. From
there they were put on trains in groups and transferred to a permanent (stalag)
camp. The stay at Wetzlar averaged about one week.
4 photos of Dulag Luft - Wetzlar are compliments of Judy Kaester,
daughter of Cpl. Walter S. Seleski who served in the 80th Chemical Smoke
Generating Company and were taken on April 4, 1945.
The following photos are of Dulag Luft Wetzlar and are from Claudio
View of the main gate at the camp, when it was
still in use by the German Luftwaffe. The sign says
in English "List about
buildings in the administrative District of theLuftgaukommando XII"
from 1943 indicates, that there was a barrack area and a area for FLAK
barracks. In these barrack areas of the later camp, German Luftwaffe
soldiers were trained on searchlights.
The arrival of new POW´s in August or September
Aerial view of Dulag
Luft - Wetzlar.
This photo was
made in March 1945 by a P-38 of 7th (US) Group
Dulag Luft at Wetzlar
From the book "The Interrogator"
by Raymond F. Toliver
The following photos are from an "After The
www.afterthebattle.com ) magazine feature article on Dulag Luft published in
England - November 1999.
A drawing of a solitary confinement room at Dulag
Luft - Oberursel
One of the variations of the famous Red Cross Form
presented to arriving POWs to complete
The train station at Oberursel
POWs leaving train station for Frankfurt
Diagram of cells in solitary confinement
Dulag Luft - Hohemark Hospital
The Dulag Luft Kommandant's House as it looks today
Dulag Luft Aerial photo March 13, 1945
The administration block. It was built in winter
of 42-43. It housed the Interrogation Room, the records
section, the Map Room and the Situation Rooms.
The Main Corridor and Room 47 where prisoners were
Other Photos and Drawings
Blueprint drawing of Dulag Luft - Oberursel
Dulag Luft Identification Card
Comments we have received on experiences at Dulag Luft during WWII:
I was interrogated at Dulag during the last few days of November, 1944.
I had two interrogators, the first was an Oberloitenant. I believe he had
been a navigator on the Russian front, injured in some way and then given
the job of interrogation of POW's. I was then interrogated by a German
"civilian", which I assumed was an officer in civilian clothes. I just
listened as he talked about his life and was trying to get me to talk. He
bragged about living in Canada and raising wheat 200 miles farther north
than any one had done before.
Lee Lamar -
Stalag Luft I POW
We would love to hear your story of
you visit with the Interrogators. Please write to us and tell us about it. Click here
to email your experience at Dulag Luft to us.
American Prisoners of War in Germany - Dulag Luft
Prepared by Military Intelligence Service, War Department 15 July,
This document gives a detail description of the strength,
treatment, food, clothing, health, religious activities, German personnel,
mail, recreation, etc. at the camp.
Dulag Luft Trial -
The Aftermath of Dulag Luft:
After the war ended the British convened a
war crimes trial. The Trial was knows as the "Dulag Luft Trial". It was held
in Wuppertal, Germany, beginning on November 26, 1945. The hearing was
convened due to the allegations of ill treatment of British Prisoners of
War. Four officers were charged: Killenger, Junge, Eberhardt, and
Bohehringer. Killenger and Junge were sentenced to five years confinement.
Eberhardt received three years. Boehringer was acquitted.
There is a report on the war crimes trial of five command officers/
interrogators at Dulag Luft Oberursel, held by a British military tribunal
26 Nov-3 Dec 1945, at
http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/WCC/killinger.htm (Prof. Steve Stein's
"War Crimes and Criminals" website. The report, written for lawyers and
students of international war crimes law, gives an account of the officers
involved in the Oberursel war crimes charges, their duties, the charges they
faced, and a synopsis of the legal issues of interest.
Can You Take It?
by Anonymous - this poem was found on the wall
of a solitary confinement cell at Dulag Luft.
It's easy to be nice, boys When everything's O.K. It's easy to be cheerful, When your having things your way. But can you hold your head up And take it on the chin. When your heart is breaking And you feel like giving in?
It was easy back in England, Among the friends and folks. But now you miss the friendly hand, The joys, and songs, and jokes. The road ahead is stormy. And unless you're strong in mind, You'll find it isn't long before You're dragging far behind.
You've got to climb the hill, boys; It's no use turning back. There's only one way home, boys, And it's off the beaten track. Remember you're American, And when you reach the crest, You'll see a valley cool and green, Our country at its best.
You know there is a saying That sunshine follows rain, And sure enough you'll realize That joy will follow pain. Let courage be your password, Make fortitude your guide; And then instead of grousing, Just remember those who died.