Stalag Luft VI
History and museums
Stalag Luft VI was a German prisoner-of-war camp during World War II located near the town of Heydekrug, Memelland (now Šilutė in Lithuania). It was the northernmost POW camp within the confines of the German Reich.
The camp was built in 1939 and designated Stalag I-C. At first it held Polish POWs, then from 1940 also French and Belgians, and from 1941 Russians. In June 1943 it was renamed Stalag Luft VI and used to hold British and Canadian Air Force NCOs, and from February 1944, also Americans.
By July 1944 it housed 9,000 Allied airmen. When the Russian front approached, orders were given to move the prisoners to other camps further west. Most of the men were moved by train to Stalag XX-A in West Prussia, but some 900 were taken to the port of Memel, where they were put aboard the merchant ship Insterburg for a 60-hour journey to Swinemünde. After another train journey the men were force marched from Kiefheide, with many men being bayoneted or shot before they reached Stalag Luft IV in Gross Tychow. This march was one of the "Long Marches".
After the camp came under Russian control it was renamed Gulag 3, and used to house German POWs and Lithuanian partisans and dissidents, remaining in use until 1948. Until 1952 it served as a civilian prison, before being demolished. In 1995 a museum was opened on the former camp grounds.
Ernest Booth, Flight Engineer, AR-R of 460 Squadron, Binbrook