Stolen Years: Australian prisoners of war
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.