Prisoner-of-war camp. Stalag XVII B
In the area of the airfield Gneixendorf a prisoner-of-war camp was located in World War II. It was part of a large complex which comprised a military camp, a prisoner camp, a military hospital, a camp cemetery and a water reservoir. The ruins of this complex still can be seen east of Gneixendorf at the Rohrendorfer Feld.
End of June in 1939 the construction of the military camp was started southwest of the current airfield on an area of 20 ha. At that stage the war plans against Poland and the Soviet Union were fully in progress. The location of the camp was selected strategically. It was situated close to a railway line, however far enough from it, so that the concentration of troops and war material did not attract too much attention.
On September 1st 1939 the war started against Poland and the troops were ordered suddenly to march. A few days later the first prisoners of war arrived at Gneixendorf. Initially they were accommodated in large tents. On September 29th 1939 work began on the prison camp on an area of approximately 50ha. Totally 12 x 4 barracks were erected, which were surrounded by several rows of barbed wire and watchtowers. Each barrack was considered for 240 men, however frequently up to 400 men were accommodated inside it. The simultaneous allocation of the camp amounted to 10.000 men and comprised of Poles, Belgians, French, Serbs, Russians and as of 1943 also soldiers from the US-Airforce, mostly shot down bomber crews.
A lot of outposts belonged to the prison camp which totally comprised of 66.000 men including Gneixendorf. The provision with food especially for the Russians was very poor so that about 2000 men died. They were buried in the cemetery of the camp, called “Russenwaldl”. South of the camp a military hospital was erected on an area of 6 ha. After the end of the war in May 1945 the camp was demolished completely, however ruins of the foundations and canal constructions still can be seen at various places.
Translated by Georg Wellischowitsch