Ringmer twinning visit sparks search for POW’s friends

In September, Ringmer Town Twinning Association were visiting their twin village, Geschwenda in Thuringen, Germany when they were told about a prisoner of war (POW) based in their area during WWII.

Wednesday, 30th October 2019, 11:37 am
Ringmer Town Twinning Association on a 2019 visit to a village in their twin town; Geschwenda in Thuringen, Germany.

They were hosted by the Burgermaster (mayor) who told them of Siegfried Umbreit, a German POW based near Ringmer during World War II.

Siegfried lives in a care home in Erfurt and recently celebrated his 105th birthday. He told the Geschwenda group of his happy memories of Ringmer.

By the end of the war, 7,000 prisoners like Siegfried were based at Halland.

Siegfried Umbreit, 105, who was a German POW based near Ringmer during WWII

Siegfried was a driver during his time as a POW and befriended an English couple who showed him local sights.

They introduced Siegfried to Glyndebourne where he watched the premier performance of Benjamin Britten’s opera, Albert Herring, in June 1947.

The area surrounding Geschwenda was initially liberated by American soldiers during WWII. Thuringen was then taken over by Russian forces before becoming part of the German Democratic Republic (East Germany).

Siegfried may have experienced more freedom as a POW in England, especially after the war ended in Europe, than he did as a citizen returning home.

The group are looking for anybody whose family may have befriended Siegfried or his fellow POWs. They believe that some of those who met Siegfried may have had connections to Glyndebourne.

Do you know anything about Siegfried? Get in contact with us and contact Maureen at [email protected] if you do.