Stalag 13: Is It Still There?

Whatever happened to the former Stalag 13, or "Stammlager XIII C" as it was officially known?

The camp, Lager Hammelburg, is still there, down the road from the town of Hammelburg, and is now the home of the German Infantry School (Deutsche Infanterieschule) for the modern German army, or Bundeswehr.

Building behind fence at Lager Hammelburg, former Stalag 13Lager Hammelburg Today

Most of the camp is now a restricted military area, but the main road south of Hammelburg goes through the eastern edge of the camp and many buildings can be seen from the areas accessible to the public.

The woods around "Stalag 13" naturally look nothing like the Southern California vegetation with fake snow you see Hogan and his men running around in!

Fenced-off area at Lager Hammelburg, formerly Stalag 13Restricted Areas at the Camp

The wooden barracks that housed the enlisted men of Stalag 13 C have been torn down, but some of the permanent buildings from the officers' camp, Oflag 13 B, are still standing.

Building at Lager HammelburgLager Hammelburg
Building at Lager HammelburgLager Hammelburg

Finding the Original Barracks

The tank has just broken through the fence surrounding the barracks holding the men of Oflag 13B, the officer part of the camp. The enlisted men were in Stalag 13C in the same camp.

Tank liberates the POW camp at Lager Hammelburg, Stalag 13Liberation of the Camp

The two officers' barracks in the photo above are still there. 

They're in the restricted area, but easily viewed from a parking area next to the main gate.

On the map below, I've marked the locations of the first building and the tank, as well the main gate of the camp and a good spot for viewing the remaining buildings. (Thanks to Geoff Walden of thirdreichruins.com in identifying it.)

For more info, see the History of Stalag 13.



Map showing location of surviving barracks from Stalag 13 POW camp

Map data (c) OpenStreetMap and contributors, CC-BY-SA

Below you can see the two buildings that were nearest the tank in the camp liberation photo.

There was a lot of construction going on in front of the old camp barracks buildings when I took the picture.

View of two remaining barracks from Stalag 13 POW campTwo remaining barracks buildings from Oflag 13.

The Camp Entrance

The main gate and entrance to the Deutsche Infanterieschule looks just about the same as it did years ago, except it has been spruced-up quite a bit.

Entrance to the German Infantry School in Hammelburg in 1938

Current entrance to the German Infantry School in HammelburgCurrent Entry Gate

Bonnland

Even the little village of Bonnland, taken over by the army during an expansion in 1938, is intact. 

The residents were moved out and the deserted town is now used for urban warfare training. (See training video below)

View of houses at Bonnland infantry training areaBonnland

(Image thanks to Denny Sander, CC-by-SA license.)


The POW Cemeteries

Prisoners of war from both WWI and WW2 were held at Lager Hammelburg.

These graveyards still contain the remains of some of the soldiers who died during captivity in both world wars. 

Finding the POW Graveyard. Continuing along the main road (Rommelstrasse) will bring you into the camp, and turning right on Bonnlanderstrasse will take you past two well-maintained cemeteries. See map below.

When you turn right on Bonnlanderstrasse, you are leaving the public area of Lager Hammelburg and entering the training camp itself.

Turn off for POW graveyard at Lager Hammelburg, Stalag 13Bonnlanderstrasse on right, heading into the camp

There's a sign at the intersection directing people to the POW graveyard, but no warning that it's a restricted area, which it is.

Sign for POW graveyard at Lager HammelburgSign for POW Cemetery

You may be stopped and asked to sign in at the camp office (just past the graveyard area) before exploring further.

They are understandably concerned with security, plus the safety of visitors, since the soldiers are training in the area.

The shooting ranges are just past the cemetery.


In the Cemetery

Memorial for the dead of WW2 at Lager HammelburgStalag 13C POW Cemetery

Graveyard in Lager Hammelburg with Russian headstones and crosses in a field.Russian Graves, Stalag 13C

All of the American, British, Commonwealth, French and Italian men who were buried there were returned to their homelands after the war.

One cemetery holds the bodies of 2,987 Russian soldiers and the other graveyard has 35 Poles, 73 Yugoslavs and 50 Russians.

Memorial marker for Russian POW's who died at Lager Hammelburg

Marker in remembrance of the Soviet soldiers buried there.

Memorial for British POW's who died in WWI at Lager HammelburgBritish POW grave marker, WWI
POW grave with cross and photo, Lager HammelburgPOW Grave
Memorial for French POWs from WWI, Lager HammelburgFrench POW Memorial
Russian gravestone at Lager HammelburgRussian Grave
Russian gravestone at Lager HammelburgRussian Grave

Russian gravestone at Lager HammelburgRussian Grave
Russian gravestone at Lager HammelburgRussian Grave

Cemetery Notice About the Russian Graves

The above notice was posted at the POW Cemetery, in German and Russian. The English translation is roughly:

"This piece of earth became the final earthly home of 3031 Russians. They died as prisoners of war: 44 in the First World War and 2987 in the Second World War."

"In the early 60's, the German War Graves Welfare Organization recovered 427 dead from temporary quarters in 76 Bavarian municipalities and placed them here for a lasting rest."

"In 1974, the organization gave this gravesite its lasting form. Reverence and sympathy watch over the peace of the dead."


A Peek Into the Camp

There are a variety of training areas and firing ranges inside the camp. This is the main training area for the German Infantry.

View of training area in Lager HammelburgLager Hammelburg Training Area

Rusting panzer at Lager HammelburgLager Hammelburg, Wrecked Panzer

Shooting range at Lager HammelburgLager Hammelburg Firing Range

(Three images above thanks to Scheurebe2000, CC-by-SA license.)


Soldiers Training

Curious about what's happening in the former Stalag 13 nowadays?

Here's a YouTube clip of German soldiers training at Lager Hammelburg. Horseplay and urban warfare tactics in the ghost town of Bonnland, inside the camp.





The Bundeswehr in Hammelburg

True to Hammelburg's history as a garrison town, it is swarming with German soldiers...not surprising, being the home of the German Infantry School. I saw dozens of young soldiers coming and going from the Hammelburg Bahnhof and driving in and out of the town.

Service in the military is mandatory in Germany, although exemptions for conscientious objectors are readily given.

There are still residents living in Hammelburg who remember the POW's arriving at the train station. The building hasn't changed at all, except for a swastika scraped off one side.

The Bahnhof is just a short walk from the town center.

German soldiers outside Hammelburg BahnhofGerman Soldiers at the Bahnhof

Visiting the Camp

Lager Hammelburg is only about 2 and 1/2 miles (4 km) south of Hammelburg along the main highway.

Bus stop sign showing stop for Lager Hammelburg

It can be reached easily by bus if you're without a car.

Bus #8164 from the bus station (Busbahnhof) on Weihertor Platz in Hammelburg travels out to the camp many times a day.

You can get the schedule from the Tourist Office on the Markt.

There are three stops in the camp; if you get off at the first stop, "Lager, Saaleck Kaserne", you can walk the length of the camp from there.

Follow the road Rommelstrasse in the same direction and it will take you through the eastern edge of camp, past the main gate and many buildings.

Turn right on Bonnlanderstrasse as the fence turns and you will reach the cemeteries and the firing range.


Map of Lager Hammelburg

Map showing location of POW graves in Lager Hammelburg, formerly Stalag 13

Map data (c) OpenStreetMap and contributors, CC-BY-SA


Map of Hammelburg and Camp




The "Real" Stalag 13

Was there a commandant with a monocle? To find out what the camp was really like, check out the history of Stalag 13, and get the scoop on the town of Hammelburg nearby.

See how the POW camp in Hogan's Heroes compared with the real thing.


Another Stalag 13...

There were four Stalag 13's in Germany. Near the town of Weiden, near Nuremberg, there was a POW camp called Stalag XIII B. Take a look at Stalag 13 B to read an interesting account of one of the Polish POW's there.


Another Famous POW Camp

During WW2, Colditz Castle was a notorious POW camp that held mostly British and Commonwealth POW's. They were the "bad boys" who had escaped from other camps, and their exploits have become the subject of many books, movies and TV shows.

See what Colditz was all about, and how to visit it.


More to explore...


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