Library Reference Number: 004
An Enemy With Principles
We arrived at Luckenwalde Stalag 111A, some 20 miles south of Berlin, in February 1945. We were fifteen hundred weary POWs after our winter three week march from StalagLuft 7, Bankau. We were in a sorry state and we found conditions at Luckenwalde in an equally sorry state. The barracks we were consigned to were already occupied by about thirty Irish Guardsmen, most of whom had been captured at Dunkirk.
They introduced us to 'McGinty' (we never knew his real name), an English-speaking German guard who spoke English with a perfect Cockney accent and it was obvious he had spent a great deal of his life in London. He certainly did not conform to Hitler's image of the 'Master Race' being of slim build, with rather weedy appearance and wire-rimmed spectacles. The Irish C.S.M. informed us they had a good relationship with McGinty. He would smuggle bread and other verbotten articles into the camp for them and, unlike other German guards who had to be bribed, McGinty would do these favours for us freely and without recompense.
In April 1945, the Russian Army was about to over-run Luckenwalde on its way to Berlin. The battle had started and the Germans were observed leaving the camp. The C.S.M. consulted his men and they decided to offer McGinty a British battledress and take him back with them, at least to Allied-occupied Germany away from the Russians. He was visibly moved by this gesture, gave a wry smile and said, "I appreciate your offer, but I chose my ship at the beginning of the war, and if the ship is sinking, I will go down with it!"
McGinty disappeared into the maelstrom of the Battle of Berlin and I admired his brave decision. He could so easily have escaped from the Russians and I have often wondered if he survived.