This article deals with the history of the largest Polish POW camp for NCOs and privates in the part of Germany that was occupied after the end of the war by the American 3rd Army. The camp was set up in the spring of 1945 and its population peaked at c. 5,000 Polish servicemen. Initially the Polish side hoped that the men gathered there would beef up the Polish Armed Forces in the West. However, due to Britain's opposition to those plans no more than c. 800 former POWs made it to the Polish 2nd Corps in Italy. The rest were faced with an alternative - returning to Poland or staying on and finding work in Germany. While only c. 20% of the camp residents chose to go back to Poland, the great majority (c. 3,000) joined the US Labor Service to work as guards at American military installations or German POW camps. After the recruitment phase came to an end, the Americans closed the Langwasser base and sent off the remaining Polish residents to various civilian DP centres in Germany. This article is based on reports and memos written by the HQ of the Polish Military Centre at Langwasser and the Polish Military Mission in Germany as well as assorted information published by the Langwasser camp weekly 'Pismo Zolnierza'. The author consulted also the unpublished memoir of Józef Weisbach, educational officer at Langwasser. All those sources are available at the Polish Institute and Sikorski Museum in London and the Polish Library in London. This article, which deals with an attempted expansion of the Polish Armed Forces to the French Zone of Occupation in the aftermath of Germany's surrender in 1945, is based on data gathered from various sources in the collections of the Polish Institute and General Wladyslaw Sikorski Museum in London. Brief references to the idea of forming Polish military units in the south-western parts of Germany under French can be found primarily in reports and memos written by liaison officers of the Polish Military Mission in Germany.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.