Stalag 13 is the fictional location for the "toughest prisoner of war camp in Germany", under the command of Colonel Wilhelm Klink. There has never been a successful escape from the camp. But in reality, the camp, which is located near the town of Hammelburg, hid an anti-Nazi organization that is made up of captured Allied flyers. The unit, led by Colonel Robert Hogan, specialized in sabotage, rescuing Allied pilots, passing along intelligence to London and helping other POWs escape back to England, and doing it all right under the Germans' noses.
The Real Stalag 13 Edit
Stalag XIII-C is a POW camp for non-commissioned officers and enlisted personnel. It contains three compounds, one for British and Commonwealth soldiers, one for American soldiers and the third for Soviet soldiers.
Oflag XIII-B has two compounds. One is for American officers, while the other is for Serbian officers.
In late March, 1945, after the crossing of the Rhine River, an armored task force, Task Force Baum, under orders from General George S. Patton, Jr., is sent to Oflag XIII-B to liberate the prisoners who are being held there. There is some controversy over the reason for the raid which is now known to history as "The Hammelburg Raid". Patton claims that he has sent the task force to the camp to rescue the prisoners so that they would not be executed by the retreating Germans, while others believe that the raid has been conducted in order to liberate Patton's son-in-law, Lieutenant Colonel John K. Waters, who has been found to be at the camp.
The task force, made up mainly of units from the 4th US Armored Division, reaches the camp on March 27, after making a 60 miles deep penetration through the Germans' front lines. The task force liberates the camp, and finds Waters. They soon learn from one of the other prisoners, who is a doctor, that he has been wounded during an earlier escape attempt and is therefore unable to be moved from the camp because of those injuries. The troopers then leave the camp, taking with them all those who want to get back to friendly lines. This turns out to be 1200 men.
Unfortunately, the task force, miles from the camp, is attacked on three sides by German troops the following day, and is soon fighting for its very life. The task force is soon destroyed, with most of the force (those who aren't dead) captured, including a large number of the recently liberated prisoners. About a week to ten days after the failed raid, the camp is again liberated by American troops, but by then, most of the more able-bodied prisoners have been sent elsewhere.
Patton is later reprimanded for the raid by both General Eisenhower and General Bradley, for both the aborted attempt and the destruction of the task force. He tells war correspondents a short time after the reprimand that he had no idea that his son-in-law was actually in the camp until after the troops have reached Hammelburg. But, he later admits that not sending a Combat Command to Hammelburg instead of the task force is the only mistake that he has made during the campaign.
- Baron, Richard and Abe Baum. (2000) Raid!: The Untold Story of Patton's Secret Mission. Dell Publishing (Reprint). ISBN 0440236096.
- Whiting, Charles. (1970) 48 Hours to Hammelburg: The True, Long Suppressed Story of One of Patton's Boldest and Bloodiest Missions. Berkley Publishing Group. ISBN 0345020669.