VloethemveldCamps and populations
In 1944, the British commenced running a number of POW camps in the Vloethemveld military territory within Zedelgem. Vloethemveld is now a heritage site comprising a protected nature preserve and habitat.
Camp 2226 held German POWs, among them Helmut Schmidt, later to become German Chancellor. Camp 2227 was generally used for Baltic soldiers: 11,800 Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians. After the war they were to be repatriated to their countries, now all under Soviet occupation. Considered traitors by the Soviet authorities, many if not most refused repatriation—some even maiming themselves to prevent their transfer. Other Zedelgem camps held other nationalities or segregated POWs by military rank.
Accommodations varied from camp to camp. Camps 2226 and 2227 consisted of buildings and barracks, Camp 2229 of wooden barracks, Camp 2375 of round tepee-like tents.
In 1946, the POWs were reclassified and most released.
Following is page from an inventory of POW camps which includes Zedelgem—the POW population across all camps totalled 63,459, including more than 16,000 in Camp 2227. Estimates are that a 100,000 POWs in total passed through the Zedelgem camps.
21 Army Group was under Field Marshall Montgomery commanding.