Don Kremper 94BG


The third week in February we arrived at Luft VI and were unloaded from cramped boxcars. It was another bleak wintery afternoon and the cold winds blew in off the Baltic to whip the snow around us. We waited our turn to be called inside, two at a time. Each POW had to undergo a strip search, have his picture taken, get finger printed and issued a Kriegesgefangenen tag with his number. Mine was # 1394 and I was assigned to Lager E, barracks F, room 6 (the top bunk). These were brick buildings on a concrete slab and each room eventually held sixty men, on triple bunks.


It wasn't long before I fell into the daily routine. Dawn would bring the guards, and the doors and windows would be unlocked. Not long after, they'd blow whistles for us to fall out for a head count. This was performed twice a day, regardless of the weather. Often we'd wait in the bitter cold while the ferrets searched our barracks for hidden radios, tunnels, and the like. After this annoying routine ( the count was never correct the first time!), we went to the wash house- latrine and got ready for breakfast. Each room assigned a food coordinator to go to the kitchen twice a day and draw rations for his room. His most nerve wracking job was slicing the bread for the sixty of us. Breakfast consisted of ersatz coffee made from barley kernels or acorns and saw-dust filled blackbread with "primo" oleo or jam on it.


Two men were assigned on a rotation basis, to empty the "honey bucket" from the night before. You'd straighten out the lumps in the two blankets we were issued, then get ready for your particular kriegie routine. The walk around the perimeter of the Lager was a daily thing, regardless of the weather. There was a library, fellows visited, played cards or told combat stories. There was always someone to feel sorry for... who'd been on his twenty-fifth and final mission!


The end of the day would bring roll call around again and then supper. The kitchen furnished us with hot water to make our powdered coffee, some kind of watered down soup with strange things floating in it and a couple of potatoes. We supplemented this with items from our Red Cross parcels, which were shared among four men. A "reader" might come in with the nightly BBC newsbroadcast from the camp's secret receiver. When the guards came for lock-up, it was lights out and sack time.