The camp for prisoners of war, non-commissioned officers and soldiers was established at the beginning of September 1939 and closed on 8 May 1945. It was the first prisoner of war camp in the military district VIII Breslau and was placed in the Eastern part of Görlitz – Moys (today: Zgorzelec-Ujazd).
Beginnings and Dulag
At first it was a transit camp (Durchgangslager – Dulag) which was located on an 18-hectare field alongside ulica Lubańska. The prisoners lived in tents with space for 300-500 people per tent. It was mainly soldiers of the Polish army, Belarusians, Lithuanians, Ukrainians and Jews who were prisoners of the camp. On 23 September it was renamed StaLag VIIIa. At the end of December 1939 the prisoners were transferred to the main camp in Görlitz-Moys which was located near the military training area on the right side of the road from Görlitz to Reichenau (today: Bogatynia). The camp covered 30 ha.
Numbers of prisoners and nationalities in the camp
In September 1939 8,000 Poles were in the camp, in October 1939 10,082 prisoners were registered with 9,238 of them assigned to the labour batalion, in the middle of the year 1940 there were only 1,400 Poles left. In the summer of 1940 20,000 Belgians and Frenchmen arrived at the camp. Among them were 120 clerics and students of theology. On 28 February 1941 23,582 prisoners altogether were registered in Stalag VIII A, among them 17,395 Frenchmen, 6,107 Belgians and 80 Poles. In July 1941 a transport with 2.364 Yugoslav prisoners arrived. As of mid-1942 transports with Soviet prisoners arrived. In the autumn of 1943 the arrival of the Britons added a new nationality. Among them residents from the British Isles, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. In October 1943 23 American airmen were temporary prisoners of the camp. After Benito Mussolini was overthrown, more than 6,000 Italian prisoners arrived at the camp in December 1943.
In January 1944 44,669 prisoners were registered. Most of them Frenchmen (15.581), followed by the Russians (12,999), the Italians (7,303), the Belgians (4,374), the Britons (3,188) and the Yugoslavs (1,222). With a total of 47,328, the highest number of prisoners in Stalag VIII A was registered in September 1944. At the end of 1944 the arrival of 1,500 Slovaks added a new nationality and for the first time after three years 37 Polish prisoners, who were participants of the Warsaw Uprising, arrived at the camp.