The Site of National Remembrance

The Old POW Cemetery

The Cemetery was set up as an object of the military character in the second half of the 19th century. It was situated over 2 km away from the buildings sited on the outskirts of the village of Lamsdorf (since 1945 known as Łambinowice), within the area of the Prussian military range, the so-called Camp II (Lager II). This is the only cemetery in Łambinowice, where nearly each of the deceased lies in a separate grave with his name and surname marked on the tombstone.

The oldest part of the Cemetery comes from the Franco-Prussian War (1870-1871). There were several dozen French soldiers buried here. They died in the POW camp organized in Lamsdorf by the Prussian military authorities. In the subsequent years, there were also graves of German soldiers placed here. They and some few civilians died while staying in the military range (among others, women-paramedics from the camp hospital and a chief forester).

The time of World War 1 was a period of intensive development of the Cemetery. As a matter of fact, there was built the second cemetery at that time. Beside in the already existing one, dead POWs – soldiers of the Entente, who were detained in the nearby German camp – started to be buried in the other cemetery which was surrounded with a separate fence. Burials of the POWs were continued until 1919, when the camp complex was liquidated. There appeared about 7 thousand new graves in total then, as well as several monuments dedicated to the dead were set up in the place.

In the 20 years of the Interwar period the appearance of the necropolis underwent successive changes. Apart from the POWs’ graves, there were also several scores of German immigrants (including children) buried here. They had come from the territories incorporated into Poland and were staying in Lamsdorf, basically in connection with the functioning of the camp here in the years 1921-1924 – one designed for immigrants. Some few Germans also found their repose in this place: they participated in trainings (first – sports practice and then – military exercises) which were organized by German authorities in the area of the military range and continued to be so still during World War 2. In the mid-1920s, partial exhumation was carried out and the corpses of the POWs were transported to the western states engaged in the military operations during World War 1 (the British, the French, most of the Italians and supposedly Belgians). Within the next decade, the two cemeteries were made into one.

During World War 2, the about 4.5-hectare cemetery again saw POWs being buried in it – this time they were soldiers of the anti-Nazi coalition. They died in the German POW camps which had again been organized in Lamsdorf. Their exact number is not known. The exhumation works conducted at the turn of 1945 and 1946 revealed that about 4 thousand Soviet POWs had been buried in mass graves outside the cemetery, behind the fence on its western and north-eastern sides. Traces of the graves of soldiers of the other armies have not been preserved. The pits remaining after the exhumation of British POWs’ corpses are the exception here. The exhumed remains were transported to the respective POWs’ mother countries or to the central cemeteries (e.g., to Krakow). Burials in this cemetery were stopped in 1945.

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