Posts Tagged ‘Germany’

A German submarine built in 1916 had trouble only a week after it was launched, mysterious events occurred and an unusually high number of fatalities occurred on board. The first of the events came when a steel beam swung out of position and the chains broke, it crashed to the ground and a worker there died immediately, a second died only two hours later from the injuries he had sustained.

When testing the vessel ready to be declared seaworthy they had further troubles, one of the crew members ended up swept overboard whilst inspecting the hatches. He was never seen again, presumed to have died in the accident.

Whilst loading torpedoes the Second Officer, Lieutenant Richter, was killed when one dropped and exploded. In the engine room a malfunction set off fumes that killed three men because no one reached them in time. During a storm a crewman went overboard, but onlookers said it looked more like he’d been pushed. On one occasion UB65 was preparing to dive and a crewman saw someone standing on deck. The figure turned his way and the lookout recognised him as the Second Officer that had been killed, his terrified yell meant the captain also saw it before it disappeared.

There were enough sightings around the sub it had the reputation of being haunted. It made it harder to get crewmen to work on her. A torpedo gunner witnessed something that disturbed him so much he jumped overboard, he had said that the ghost would torment him at night, his body was never recovered. In the end the German Naval Command felt forced to investigate and asked a priest to perform an exorcism.

July 10th 1918 it had all been quiet but that day a crewman claimed to have had a run in with the Second Officer. Later that day an American sub spotted the UB65 and prepared to attack; suddenly as they were making checks the UB65 sub exploded without warning and when the smoke cleared all they could see was debris and no survivors.

The results of the investigation showed that the UB65 had attempted to fire her torpedoes but there had been a malfunction and they exploded inside the submarine. In all accounts with the Second Officer it seems he had been trying to communicate with the crew, suggesting that he was trying to act as a death omen. Certainly it seems that for a two year life of a submarine she claimed quite a few lives.

In 1946 there were more than 400,000 POW’s from Germany and there was some controversy about the Geneva convention, as many were not returned until well after the end of the war. Nearly a fifth of the farm work on British Soil was being carried out by POW’s and there was a ban on fraternisation between POW and the general populous. The ban was lifted in Christmas 1946 and so many men experienced a more friendly Christmas with local families for the first time in many years. Around 250,00 German POW’s went home but around 24,000 decided to stay in Britain.

Records from the time give some insight into the camp life, many of the documents don’t reveal the camp locations as they were not allowed to write their address on the letters they sent home. However many have been identified, some are better known than others and a list of them (ongoing) has been compiled to preserve the records even if the buildings themselves are gone.

It was part of the Redmires, and nearby is a large golf course, the old Lodge Moor Hospital’s remaining buildings are part of a residential complex, a plane crashed into the hospital killing one and injuring seven back in 1955.

The nearby land originally was planned for an airfield and racecourse, due to the elevated position the land was marshy and not suitable so the costly layouts went to waste. The overlapping land was used by the Sheffield Battalion for training grounds to dig trenches and practise for warfare. Sadly many of those that were training up on the high and uncompromising land would be lost in the Battle of the Somme.

There was a prisoner of war camp situated at Lodge Moor in the First World War, from 1917-1919 and was used to house German captives. An archaeological website details that the capacity of the camp was greatly extended bu the use of tented accommodation. It says that it was guarded by double wire perimeter fences with watchtowers. From 1917-1918 (for about six weeks approximately) it housed U-Boat captain Karl Dönitz, whom Hitler picked for his successor as Führer, he failed this in the last days of the Second World War. He returned to Germany in 1920, after being sent to Wynthenshaw Hospital after displaying odd behaviour, it is not unreasonable to assume he would have acted this way to ensure that he was taken from the camp in the first place.

The site was then used as a Smallpox hospital as an extension to the establishment at Lodge Moor but this was demolished and another POW camp set up for the Second World War. This time it housed Italian and German prisoners, this time it was slightly more to the right and opened out in front of the Three Merry Lads, this area is now demolished and opened up for planted woodland and traveller enclosure.

A local oral story says that the local Redmires army gave the Italian prisoners free cinema tickets and food to help them leave the area once Italy surrendered. Many in fact decided not to go back to Italy due to the way they were treated and remained in Sheffield. This seems quite reminiscent of the Dad’s Army episode, but the episode I believe is based more on Island Camp Farm than Sheffield’s. Locals also recall that the Italian POW’s would wave and try to talk to people because they missed their own family and so seeing some sense of normality they would want to interact.

Recently, armed with the iPhone as the camera batteries died when I got on to the site, we headed out to see the remains of the Lodge Moor Prisoner of War Camp. Lodge Moor lies on very open country side, in an elevated position, we found it by parking at the Sportsman Inn and then following the public footpath. It was icy there and snow lay on the ground, from Nottingham however there had been no such conditions with it being a lower ground.

A 1923 Survey map shows the layout of the buildings and is marked as the “Redmires Special School” and there is now a pub called the Three Merry Lads which was unmarked on there at the time. Originally when we pulled up we thought it was that car park we needed but the Sportsman’s Inn proved to be the better for accessibility.

The site itself is out in the peaks and is behind a large unmarked wall, protected from the roads and it is overgrown. The old cement outlines can be seen amongst the vegetation and trees, and we had a little of the frozen ground to protect us from the mulch thanks to the rain and the pretty much flooded basement levels.

It’s quite hard to imagine now, but prisoners would arrive at the camp and be interrogated by the Prisoner-of-War Interrogation Section, it categorised their strength of belief in National Socialism. Those who were fervent believers were labelled “black”, those non-believers were “white” and those in the middle – “grey”. At Lodge Moor some of the “black” POW’s joined in others to help plot and escape to help sabotage the war effort. Some had already begun tunnelling there and did much of it whilst the guards thought that they were asleep.

Whilst the prospect of being a POW is grim they fared better in the English camps than those in Germany, they were reasonably fed and cared for. They were educated outside of the Nazi propaganda, the POW’s were allowed to be used dor labour as long as it did not benefit the British War Effort and they could not be allowed to go into factories, as they were likely to be bombed.

Sleeping conditions were also rough, and this was not hard to be imagined when standing up on a frosty, snow covered hill in the middle of nowhere. Many prisoners would be sleeping rough and by 1944 the lodge was full so people were sleeping in the tents, many slept on bare mud in wet conditions.

This incident refers to the strange death of Günther Stoll, an unemployed food engineer from Anzhausen, Germany who was suffering from a mild case of paranoia and prior to his death had mentioned ‘them’ on occasion to his wife. He was sure that these unknown people were out to harm him.

On 25th October 1984 Stoll once again mentioned ‘them’ around 11pm that night, he suddenly shouted out “Now I’ve got it” (jetzt geht mir ein licht auf!) and wrote down either YOGTZE or YO6TZE but then crossed it out. Not long after this he headed off to his favourite pub in Wilnsdorf, where he ordered a beer and then fell on the ground injuring his face. Those around him did not feel that he was drunk and said it looked like he had suddenly passed out. When he woke up he drove off again and his whereabouts for two hours after that are unknown.

Stoll then turned up around 1am on the 26th October, in Haigerseelbach where he had grown up. He was talking to a women he knew about a ‘horrible accident’ but it was really late and she told him he should go home. Then around 3am his car was found in a trench by two people, both of them saw an injured man in a white coat near the car, they contacted the police and Stoll was found naked in his car severely injured.

Stoll mentioned four men who were with him, he said they had ‘beat him loose’ and he denied that they were friends. Stoll then died on the way to the hospital.

Police found that he had been injured before the crash, he was run down whilst naked and was in the passenger seat where he was driven to the final location and repositioned. The police were unable to find any further leads and they could not understand what the message meant he had written down and then erased.

This is a myth prevalent with Northern, Western and Central Europe. I best know it from Peterborough where I used to live. Wherever the local legend is heard it is the same, a phantasmal steed with a group of huntsmen who madly pursue something either along the ground or just above it.

Seeing the Wild Hunt was through to be a precursor to a catastrophe such as war or a plague, or at best (yeah lovely this) it meant the death of the witness. Mortals getting in the way of the hunt might well find themselves kidnapped and taken into the land of the dead.

The Norse god Odin came to be associated with the Wild Hunt, the passage of this hunt was known as Odin’s Hunt and those who saw it and mocked it were cursed, those that
joined in sincerely would be rewarded with gold. In the passing storm identified with the hunt a large black dog would be seen afterwards. To remove it the dog would have to be
tricked out but if not they would need to keep the hound and tend to it for a year.

In England this associated with St Guthlac who reported that Hereward the Wake participated in a Wild Hunt. In the Peterborough Chronicle there is a record of the hunt appearing at night, beginning with the appointment of an Abbot, Henry d’Angeley in 1127 that proved disastrous.

…many men both saw and heard a great number of huntsmen hunting. The
huntsmen were black, huge, and hideous, and rode on black horses and on black
he-goats, and their hounds were jet black, with eyes like saucers, and
horrible. This was seen in the very deer park of the town of Peterborough, and
in all the woods that stretch from that same town to Stamford, and in the
night the monks heard them sounding and winding their horns

In Wistman’s Wood, Devon, England as an example it is said that the hunt is comprised of hell-hounds that chase sinners or the unbaptised. In Devon tey are know as Yeth or
Wisht Hounds. Spain – Count Arnau is a legendary nobleman from Ripollès who was known for his cruelty and lechery is condemned to ride followed by the hounds as his flesh is devoured by flames.

The ring wraith’s from Lord of the Rings seem to have been inspired by a similar idea with the large black horses and their unknown faces. They are also a particularly awe inspiring sight on the big screen!