Winter marches

On the morning of 17th February the prisoners parade in the compound, in a heavy snowstorm. Most have confined their possessions to a pack and wear the maximum of clothing. On the march the perspiration drips from our over-heated bodies and at the halts it freezes.
Gunner James Brill, 2/3 rd Anti-Tank Regiment
(captured April 1941; liberated May 1945)

As Soviet forces advanced into Germany the Germans forced prisoners to move westward. During the winter of 1944–45 columns of cold and hungry prisoners left their camps and trekked away.

Many died on these marches. Ill-fed men became sick and men froze sleeping outdoors. A few were shot by guards; many more were killed when Allied aircraft strafed columns of what they thought were German soldiers.

AWM ART34781.27
A. H. Comber
Second World War enlisted Royal Australian Air Force
The shapeless ghosts leave camp: Stalag Luft III
pen and brush and ink on paper
drawn in London in 1945
acquired in 1945
ART34781.027

AWM ART34781.29
A. H. Comber
Second World War enlisted Royal Australian Air Force
Roadside rest: winter march from Sagan
pen and brush and ink over pencil on paper
drawn in London in 1945
acquired in 1945
ART34781.029

AWm ART25519
Alan Moore
Second World War enlisted Royal Australian Air Force, official war artist
Australian POWs on the march through Germany
watercolour with pen and ink heightened with white on paper
drawn in Germany in 1945
acquired under official war art scheme in 1946
ART25519