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Camp 165 Watten





If you are interested in World War 2, you might have heard of some of the prisoner of war (PoW) camps set up in various countries to hold captured enemy soldiers. But did you know that one of the most secret and intriguing PoW camps was in a small village in the Scottish Highlands?

Camp 165 was situated in Watten, Caithness, about eight miles northwest of Wick on the road to Thurso. It was originally an army barracks, but in 1943 it was converted into a PoW camp that operated until 1948.

However, this was not an ordinary PoW camp. Instead, it had a dual purpose: to house regular PoWs who were considered low-risk and allowed to work on local farms and to detain and interrogate some of the most notorious and dangerous Nazis captured during the war.

The camp was divided into two sections: Area A and Area B. Area A was for the low-risk PoWs, who wore uniforms with a highly visible diamond pattern on the back. They had access to facilities such as a church, a barbershop, a theatre, and workshops within the camp. They also formed friendly relations with some locals and even helped with farming and other tasks. Some even fell in love with local women, and there are stories of babies being born as a result.

Area B, on the other hand, was for the high-risk PoWs, who were known as Black PoWs. These were some of the most infamous members of Hitler’s Third Reich, such as U-boat captain Otto Kretschmer, Hitler’s personal aide Max Wunsche, and Paul Werner Hoppe, the commandant of Stutthof concentration camp where 85,000 people were murdered. These men were kept under strict surveillance and security, with armed guards on watchtowers and a double line of fencing around their compound. In addition, they were subjected to a de-Nazification programme, which showed them films of Nazi atrocities and newsreels of their defeat by the Allies. They aimed to break their support for Nazi ideology and make them repent for their crimes.

Some of them did show signs of remorse and were eventually released for repatriation to West Germany. Others remained unrepentant and were transferred elsewhere for further interrogation or trial. Some of them even resumed their careers after the war, such as Kretschmer, who became a NATO commander, and Wunsche, who ran an industrial plant.

It is quite amazing that as you drive through the Route, there are many hidden and, at times, virtually forgotten Stories..








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