POW camp 18 additional information
Quoted from Pegasus archive
Camp 18", bordering the South Tyne
river and stretching across a mile of Featherstone Park, was constructed in 1944 to accommodate US personnel
prior to their departure to Normandy for the Invasion of France. Emptied of Americans, the camp was for several
months used to hold Italian prisoners of war, but in 1945 it was converted to hold "Black Nazis"; the most
fervent believers in Hitler's Germany, who would only be repatriated after a thorough course of denazification.
It was not particular to any one section of the Reich; Wehrmacht officers, captured U-Boatmen, Luftwaffe pilots,
bureaucrats, diplomats and ambassadors were all represented. The most senior resident was General Ferdinand
Heim, a veteran of Stalingrad and chief of staff to the Sixth Army, captured in 1944 when his garrison defending
Boulogne surrendered. Consisting of some 200 huts in four compounds, Camp 18 was one of the largest officer POW
camps in Britain, at one time housing 4,000 officers and 600 orderlies.
Despite the obvious challenge of
making the most hardline Nazis into good citizens fit for the new Germany, the operation was an enormous
success, so much so that in 1947 the barbed wire fencing around the camp was removed. It was said that the
Featherstone more resembled a university campus than a POW camp; prisoners would be sent out to work on local
farms during the day, but at night they would study, and received lectures from Durham, Newcastle, even some
Oxford academics. It was a system that quickly prepared these men for flourishing careers in the new Germany,
some even went on to play a political role in its foundation.
The camp had its own chapel, theatre, library, medical centre,
even a bakery and sewerage system. It had a newspaper; Die Zeit am
Tyne, printed in Hexham, and, making use of the great pool of talent in the
camp, it boasted three orchestras and its own puppet theate, which entertained various audiences across Northern