Prisoners of War Temporary Enclosures in 1945

Prisoners camp "Goldene Meile" 1945 

Prisoners of War in the "Golden Mile"
Following the unexpected crossing of the river Rhine by American troops in Remagen on 7 March 1945 and the long prepared Rhine crossing near Wesel on 23 March 1945 the whole Ruhr area was surrounded including more than 300,000 German soldiers.  The number of German prisoners of war was increased tremendously by the advance of Allied Troops.

To the west of the Rhine, Prisoner of War Temporary Enclosures (PWTEs) housing 50,000 each were created near Rheinberg, Remagen and Bad Kreuznach.  After a short time, these proved to be too small.  More enclosures were created, 17 in all.

According to American reports at the end of April, more than 169,036 prisoners of war were in the PWTE Remagen.  Additionally the nearby enclosure was created at Sinzig.  On 8 May Sinzig housed 118,563 POWs and Remagen 134,029 POWs.
 

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Gemälde von Rudolf Unterschütz, Offenburg

Hunger, Sickness and Death
Terrible conditions prevailed the camps.  Drinking water and food rations were lacking.  Only few of the inmates had coats or shelter.  It was a damp, cold spring with lots of rain.  To protect themselves from the weather, prisoners dug holes in the ground.  Lack of hygiene caused the spread of deseases such as dysentery.
 

The 62nd US Field Hospital, 120 German military doctors, and 750 paramedics tried to fight diseases.

Until the departure of the American medical team on 10 July 1945 13,499 POWs had been received and treated as far as possible.  In the American hospitals, 532 patients died.  The dead were removed daily from the holding cells.  On 28 April a field near Bodendorf was turned into a cemetary, which was closed again on 15 July 1945.  By then 1,090 dead POWs were buried here.

On 20 June 1945 the PWTE A-2 Remagen was closed.  A large part of the prisoners had been previously moved to other camps, some were allowed to return home.  The convalescence sections were maintained until the beginning of August.  Camp A-5 Sinzig was handed over to the French Military on 10 July 1945.

The "Golden Mile" today, view from the "Erpeler Ley"