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24

JOSEPH " JOS " STEICHEN

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1924:     born in Weimerskirch (L)

Aug. 1942:    participation in the strike against compulsory military service, betrayed

Sept. 1942:    arrest by the Gestapo and court-martial sentence; transportation to Ruwer (D) for re-education

Oct. 1942:    Reich Labour Service (RAD) in Gotenhafen (PL)

Jan. 1943:    basic training in the Wehrmacht, later frontline service

Aug. 1943:    defects to the Russians and is sent to prisoner-of-war camp 188 near Tambov (R)

Sept. 1945:    released with 530 other Luxembourgers

Nov. 1945:    arrival at Luxembourg City train station
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Eine Woche lang, 200 km weit, barfuß mit einem Kilo Trockenbrot und einer Konservendose Verpflegung für die sieben Tage. Aber die Russen hatten selbst nichts zum Essen und unsere Wache ging neben uns. [...] Unterwegs haben wir Wasser aus dem Graben getrunken. Wasser, wo die Russen vorher mit Panzer darüber gefahren waren, wo die Toten lagen, das haben wir getrunken. [...] Am 25. August 1943 kam ich dann in Tambow an.
Joseph Steichen, contemporary witness account, 10 July 2013

Work

Entrance gate to prisoner-of-war camp 188 near Tambov, Russia, artist: Josy Zeimet

In June 1943 Joseph Steichen was sent to the Eastern Front in Russia. After fighting around Belgorod, Steichen and another Luxembourger defected to the Russians in August 1943. They were arrested. With their boots and socks confiscated, they had to walk 200 km barefoot to Stary Oskol, from where they were then transported in cattle cars to Tambov-Rada prisoner-of-war camp 188. Joseph Steichen was assigned to hauling wood. In September 1943, he seriously injured his back and was sent to the Tambov military hospital. Thanks to help from a doctor, Joseph Steichen was allowed to work in the hospital and nurse the sick, among them several Luxembourgers. Later he had to do other work, including burying the dead. In April 1944, as a result of a false report, Joseph Steichen was returned to camp 188, where he was employed as a paramedic and interpreter until his release. At the end of September 1945 he was sent home together with 530 Luxembourgers. He arrived in Luxembourg City at the beginning of November 1945.

Luxembourgish prisoners of war in the “Holzkommando” hauling logs to the Tambov camp, Russia; artist: Josy Zeimet

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Deejéinegen, dee mat schaffe geet, dee kritt méi z’iessen, ne. Dunn hunn ech mech du gemellt fir mat schaffen ze goen an, dunn hunn ech mäin Holzkommando konnt [...] du si mer Holz siche gaang fir de Wanter [...]
Joseph Steichen, contemporary witness account, 10 July 2013

Prisoners in Tambov were forbidden any contact with their relatives in Luxembourg. Joseph Steichen had a message smuggled out of the camp to tell his family that he was still alive, Tambov, 1 Aug. 1945

Ech hunn net méi geduecht, dass ech op Lëtzebuerg zeréckkomme géing. Mee ech hunn d’Hoffnung ni opginn ze iwwerliewen.

Vik Steichen, Zitat einer Aussage von Joseph Steichen, 7.6.2021. 

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