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
TO BE READ SILENTLY, QUICKLY AND IN GROUPS OF THREE
Pow Wowwas the largest
circulating daily underground newspaper in Germany during World War II. Its
headquarters were at Stalag Luft I. It grew from a small penciled
newssheet read by hundreds into a neatly printed 2,000 word daily,
eagerly perused by thousands. At its most successful period,
it boasted editions in three languages and a circulation that reached
seven prison camps. Pow Wow stood for
Prisoners Of War - Waiting On Winning
and it claimed to be the only truthful newspaper in Germany.
The Germans knew about Pow Wow and they made strenuous efforts to
eliminate it, but from March 1944 to May 1945 not one edition was missed
because of enemy interference. It served a continuous and vital
kriegie need: the urgent necessity to be kept informed on what was
happening outside their barbed wire isolation.
News was obtained from four main sources: from German newspapers
and magazines brought into the camp, from loudspeakers which broadcast
the Nazi war communiqués and from newly arrived prisoners who brought
fresh news from home. The fourth source was a secret radio
hidden in the South/West Compound. THE SECRET RADIO
The best source of news was from the hidden radio which was strong
enough to pick up the BBC news. The radio had been constructed by two
RAF (Royal Air Force) men, mainly from smuggled parts late in 1943.
It first operated on the camp electrical system, but it was later
converted to run on batteries in order to listen to the BBC nightly
broadcast when the camp electricity supply had been cut off. The
receiver was concealed within a wall panel located behind a bed in the
barrack room, some of the fixing nails acting as terminals to which an
aerial wire and earphone cables could be attached. Only two almost
invisible points on the wall disclosed where the radio was erected.
When these points were joined by a short length of wire, the set was
automatically switched on to the correct wave-length and the chimes of
London's Big Ben preceding the nightly news.
designated listeners who transcribed the news onto pieces of toilet
paper. Lou Trouve, and American POW and Alec Small an RCAF POW
were the primary transcribers. This paper was then hidden in a tin of dried milk that
had been fitted with a false bottom.
After roll call the next morning, the notes were dictated to a
typist who made a copy on a small very thin sheet of paper.
This paper was then folded and hidden in a hollow wristwatch.
The wristwatch was worn by W/O R.R. Drummond (RAF) the official liaison officer
between the West Compound and the North Compound during
his daily trips between them. Although he was often searched, this
paper was never discovered.
The actual compilation and publication of the paper occurred in Barracks
9 of the North I Compound. Pow Wow consisted of two columns on each
side of a legal-size piece of tissue paper. It was printed and
duplicated by carbon paper on a typewriter and circulated each evening
throughout the camp. When supplies of carbon paper were exhausted, new
stocks were made by smoking sheets of paper over oil based lamps and
sizing them with smuggled kerosene. The "staff" generally worked
until mid-afternoon until the evening paper was ready for distribution
to the compounds. One copy was distributed to each barracks.
was the editor of POW WOW
At one time a daily Russian edition was published from the original and the thirty five Soviet fliers
who were also interned in the camp had a means of communicating their news
to other Russian compounds in the vicinity. And for a short time, a French
version also appeared regularly.
THE SUNDAY PAPER
During the summer of 1944, they also produced, a weekly Sunday supplement that
contained eight pages of news summaries, features, contributions,
editorials and analysis. The paper frequently contained cartoons,
hand drawn on each copy. Fighter Ace, Capt. Donald Ross supplied a
weekly page of comics entitled "Klim Kriegies" which parodied the more
amusing aspects of camp life. Another feature was a weekly poll, in
which representatives canvassed the camp for opinions on timely
subjects. A poll in the middle of July 1944 showed that the majority of
the prisoners thought the war would be over by September 1944.
SCOOPS Pow Wow scored some spectacular news scoops despite the handicaps
under which it operated. These scoops came from the German radio,
and from German guards secretly listening to the Oslo or Copenhagen
radio and tipping off the POWs. The crew got out an "extra" on the invasion of Normandy
which preceded American news flashes by twenty minutes. And their issue
announcing the fall of Paris was out two hours before any New York
newspaper had it.
OTHER ISSUES Because Pow Wow was almost always destroyed after it was read, few
actual copies are known to exist. The copies below are the only
ones we know of in existence. We hope to find more and would like
to hear from anyone who might have any other issues. Please contact us
if you have any copies of POW WOW not listed below.
on all pictures to view full size and/or print.
D-Day - June 6, 1944 - Front
D-Day - June 6, 1944 - Back
August 24, 1944 Issue - Front
August 24, 1944 Issue - Back
12, 1944 Issue - Front
12, 1944 Issue - Back
16, 1944 Issue - Front
16, 1944 Issue - Back
April 14, 1945 Issue - Front
(from Chuck Steinforth's collection)
April 14, 1945 Issue - Back
(from Chuck Steinforth's collection)
POW WOW - May 8, 1945 Issue - Front
"The momentous news which thrilled the outside
world (VE Day) was taken in stride by Stalag Luft I, for Nazism's
death throes were almost anti-climatic to the frenzied excitement of our
liberation by our Russian Brothers-in-Arms."
POW WOW - May
8, 1945 Issue Back
( From Dr. Kuptsow's collection )
"We came to Europe and learned to appreciate
America. We fought and learned why we were fighting. In
retrospect we are proud of our share in bringing about this glorious
occasion. Our planes brought the War home to the
enemy. We were the Vanguard of Victory".
BOW WOW - A parody of the POW WOW
published by North 1, Barracks 8, Room 2 POWs - dated May 26, 1944.
Brags that it contains, "Only Unreliable News".
BOW-WOW is one of the comic reliefs of the camp. It's editorials are
wild impossible dreams on the part of the editor. It prints all the
dirt it can find on fellow Kriegies, picking on POW-WOW as 'being a rag'.
By Lt. Col. McCollom:
From a YMCA wartime log
Barth Hard Times
Volume 1- No. 1- Last 1
Saturday May 5 ,1945
This was a special one time edition, printed after the
liberation by the Russians. Note it is Volume 1 Number 1 and Last 1!!
is 1 "D" bar which was a chocolate candy bar.
Ray Parker -
editor of the POW WOW - I was a prisoner for 14 months. When I
went back to civilian life, I became a reporter and feature
writer for the Los Angeles Examiner and then the L.A. Times. Moving on to
television, I was Art Linkletter's head writer for a dozen years on his "Art
Linkletter's House Party." I worked for several other network shows as well,
including the Bob Hope Specials. I was on Bob's staff for three years.
I did several books for him, and a couple for Dick Van Dyke.
The Secret Radio
Courtesy of Roy Kilminster
Drawing of secret radio hiding place
The radio was hid in Roy Kilminster's bunk at
Stalag Luft I - illustrated here.
Secret radio hiding place
radio was constructed by one of Roy's room-mates, W/OLeslie Hurrell.
Although the major components would have been acquired in the usual way by
bribing or blackmailing guards, building a working radio under the
conditions in a POW camp required considerable improvisation and
ingenuity. Finding our radio ultimately became one of the prime objectives
of abwehr searches. As the radio was relatively bulky, hiding it securely
whilst still being able to use it easily, had presented some major problems.
The radio was never found by the Germans.
Actual photo of secret radio hiding place.
The wallboard with the radio on the back has been put in place,
pictures and maps from German newspapers have been pasted over
the joins of the wallboards, Roy's bunk-bed has been pushed back
into position against the wall and a book-shelf fixed over the
critical position. To make contact with the radio, wires were
pushed through holes in the wall boards. Those holes were
positioned as inconspicuously as possible and normally filled
with plugs made to match the rest of the wall. This photograph
shows the radio ready to be used. The batteries to operate the
radio are on top of the books on the bookshelf, the earphones
are resting on the blanket of Roy's bunk-bed.
Screwdrivers used to tune radio
To tune-in the radio stations it was necessary to adjust the two
variable capacitors in the radio by means of screwdrivers also
pushed through holes in the wallboard. Unavoidably, those holes
were in a more-exposed position and, to camouflage them, the
holes were bored through one of the newspaper maps that had been
suitably positioned on the wall.
Plugs for those holes were then disguised to look like the towns
that were genuinely part of the map. Those plugs could be
removed with a pin when the
was to be used. For security, we chose a map of a remote
area. On the left of this map of Burma, screwdrivers can be
seen inserted through our two fictitious town. Even the most
observant guards were unlikely to have noticed anything strange
about our alteration to the topography of such a remote and
Secret radio revealed
This is the actual radio that was used to record the news
published in the secret newspaper - POW WOW.
This illustration shows a board
from the inner wall of the hut with the radio fixed to the back of the
board. As can be seen from the photograph the radio was a two valve job.
Klim Kriegie by Donald Ross in Fred
Bronson's wartime log.