May 4th marks the remeberance of the liberation of The Netherlands. This liberation is celebrated on May 5th. The night before the festivities start, the ones who died during the Second World War and on combat missions after the war are remembered. This year it is 72 years ago that The Netherlands was liberated. It inspired Harm Jagerman to write a poem about this. From a point of view of one of the officers, that was captured and send to a prisoners of war camp in Poland. This is the poem Letters from the prisoners camp.
About the poem
This poem is inspired by true events. The words in this poem are based on letters send from the camps and Camp Neubrandenburg and Grüne bei Lissa during the time my wife’s grandfather was held there. He wrote about the fact that he would look forward seeing his loved ones again and had to write only positive things. That he was treated good and there was enough food and leasure time. Even though he did not speak much about this time, it contradicts with the few words he shared with his family after the war.
The prisoners of war camp Neubrandenburg, Oflag 67, was established in 1939. It was located in Fünchfeichen. This was a former estate within the city limits of Neubrandenburg in the north of Germany. Originally it was build as Stalag II-A Neubrandenburg. In 1940 this camp was extended with Oflag II-E (later renamed to Oflag-67 in 1944). This camp was also used after the war by the Soviet troops and later by the NKVD (the Russian intelligence organisation, that was later formed to the KGB).
Grüne bei Lissa
The prisoners camp Grüne bei Lissa is mostly remembered for the Norwegian officers that were held there. The official name for this camp was Oflag XXI-C/Z and it was located near Warthegeau. This camp was a sub camp of Oflag XXI-C. Originally the camp was located near Schokken, north of the city of Poznán. It was the follow up for the camp Oflag XXI-A, that opened after the invasion of Poland. Polish officers where detained there.
In March 1943 the camp was moved to the south of Ostrów. On this location a camp for wounded an sick British officers was established. The Polish inhabitants that used to live here, were removed by order of the Germans. It was actually a town, this Oflag XXI-C. There was need for another camp in 1943, therefore Grune bei Lissa was build. This camp would remain in use till the end of the war. The camp was liberated in April 1945. By that time, the Germans ordered an evacuation. The inhabitents of the camp were ordered to move to the west by foot. Most of them were detained in Oflag III-A in the south of Berlin.
Letters from the prisoners camp
Dear mother, I am doing fine
In time we shall be reunited
Don’t fear, our reuniting will be genuine
The moments here are unrequited
I did not choose this place to be,
yet this is where they brought me.
The name Grüne bei Lissa, it sounds like
some place nice, but this Offizierslager, is part of the Reich
This state controlled by one party, is preventing me to walk freely.
I cannot write this, they want to me write about the good things here
and about my wish to have you near
About the ability to eat together
They wanted me to write; read all day
and if it is to hot, I may – according to them –
dive into the cool water
Am I not the luckiest globetrotter?
Except, there is this fence,
that seperates me from commonsense.
Write not too much and be clear
When my mail arrives here,
it’s always opened,
all my letters from Holland
Maybe it’s a trust issue
or maybe my misconstrue
We will meet again some good day
and when we do, please don’t ask me
about the things happened here
This would only bring disarray
and, you see,
would make me think only of the fear
of this place, so far from you
where they make me clean latrines,
they really do
with a toothbrush, as part of their routines.
As The Netherlands was officially liberated on May 5th, there are rememberance ceremonies in the country on May 4th. At eight o’Clock in the evening of May 4th, people pay their respect with a two minutes silence. These ceremonies are held on locations that played an important role during the war.
The reason that there was agreed upon a seperate agreement to surrender by the Germans has to do with the fact that in this country a lot of military troops were stationed. There was a need to draft a seperate agreement for the surrender of these troops. This agreement was signed in Hotel De Wereld in the city of Wageningen.