BAU-UND ARBEITSBATALLION 21
Date of visit: May 11, 1942
Commander: Hauptmann Krueger-Junkers
British Man of Confidence: SM Rimington Davies, P.o.W. 6460
British Physician: Captain George Davidson RAMC
I.) GENERAL DESCRIPTION
This battalion which used to be in Wehrkreis XXI, about two months ago, transferred to new quarters in south-west Germany not far from a newly established industrial district. The battalion is lodged in a barrack camp in a wooden sandy district. The location is healthy and the camp is fairly well arranged. There is no danger of bombardments but air raid shelters have been dug in the earth.
II.) CAPACITY AND PRESENT PERSONNEL
The battalion consist of two companies with together 400 men. A third company with 200 men is expected here within the near future. The men are all in the main camp. 27 non-commissioned officers, who refuse to work any more, will be transferred to Stalag VIIIB within the next days. These non-commissioned officers have never signed any paper committing them to work.
The men are all employed in different kinds of construction work. They are working ten hours a day and have about half an hour walk to the working place. No night work is done. They are free Saturday afternoon and so far they have been free every Sunday, except for a party of 30 men who had to work three Sundays during the last month. A new order has, however, recently been given out by the Wehrkreis Commander to the effect that the men will have only one Sunday free out of three. They will be given no day off during the week instead of the Sundays. It was pointed out that the German civilians workers employed at the same work had the same conditions. This matter has been discussed with the Wehrkreis Commander and brought to the attention of the German High Command, but no reply has so far been received.
III.) INTERIOR ARRANGEMENTS
The barracks are of the standard type with rooms for 20 men. They are filled to capacity but there is no overcrowding. The beds are of double tier type with straw mattresses and with two blankets or a quilt each. The beds are free from vermins. There have been a few cases when lices have been found in the camp but these cases have been dealt with immediately. There is electric light and the rooms are well lighted. Heating has been sufficient and now that the winter is over, the men will be given wood to enable them to prepare the Red Cross food. There is good ventilation in the rooms.
IV.) BATHING AND WASHING FACILITIES
Bathing and washing facilities are very satisfactory. There is a sufficient number of spigots and showers and hot water is provided every day. In the wash-rooms barracks there is central heating.
V.) TOILET FACILITIES
The latrines are satisfactory and in sufficient number. They are of pit type. There are no night latrines but the men are allowed to go out at night.
VI.) FOOD AND COOKING
The food is prepared in common for the battalions 21 and 48 and the kitchen is run by men from the battalion 48.
The battalion has so far only received the common civilian ration with the addition for "long work" which consists of 75gr. bread per day and 100 gr. meat per week. The real additional ration for heavy workers had already been asked for but not yet granted. The matter will be checked on the next visit. The quantity of food was not thought to be sufficient for the work done by the men.
There were also complaints that the battalion had to carry the food from the kitchen to the barracks, a way of about 500 yards. The Commander promised to try to provide some carriages.
VII.) MEDICAL ATTENTION AND SICKNESS
Besides the British doctor, Captain Davidson, there are 7 medical orderlies employed in the camp. The doctor stated that the hygienic arrangements in the camp are satisfactory and that health conditions had so far been good. Lately there have, however, been quite a few cases of diarrhoea, which were thought to be due to the water supply. The water is coming from the main pipe which supplied several camps. A test of the water would be sent in. The diarrhoea cases are all mild and there have been no cases of typhoid or dysentery. There have also been very many cases of furunculosis, at present 25 to 30. As the men have all facilities of keeping themselves clean, the doctor thought the furunculosis due to inadequate food. He has given them all codliver oil lately and the conditions have improved.
The infirmary is well equipped with a sick ward for 22 patients. There were at present 17 beds occupied, all small industrial accidents or other minor cases.
The doctor has been promised cooking facilities in the infirmary to be able to prepare diet food from the invalid comfort parcels.
Among the sanitators is one not recognised by the German authorities. His name is Pte. Alexander Speculand, P.o.W. 1310, ambulance driver in the RASC.
The clothing conditions were said to be fair. Each man has only one battle dress but orders have already been given out that each man in the battalion should receive an extra suit for work. 250 great coats had been received last week but, as there is an order that 10% shall be kept in stock, all have not been issued. 25% of the men will still be without British great coats. A consignment of underwear and socks had been received last week and prisoners were all now fairly well provided. Boots are very bad but new ones have been promised from Geneva as soon as possible.
The Man of Confidence is in control of the British Red Cross clothing together with the German paymaster.
The laundry is done by the men themselves. There is a good supply of hot water and a drying room is provided.
Each man receives a minimum pay of 70 pfg. a day.
There is not yet any canteen in the camp but steps have been taken to start one. The matter will be checked at the next visit.
XII.) RELIGIOUS ACTIVITY
There is a Catholic priest who is working for both battalions 21 and 48, and who reads the Mass in a small Chapel. He asked to be allowed to see another Catholic priest at regular intervals and the Commander promised to try to arrange this.
XIII.) RECREATION AND EXERCISE
There is a good recreation room in the camp but so far without a stage. There is a good band of about 20 musicians. A piano was asked for and it was promised by the Commander to try to rent one. A radio and a picture projection set had been ordered. There is a gramophone with pick up and loudspeakers.
Each company has a library of about 500 books, but many of the books were said to be of a too serious type and very old fashioned. Detective stories and western novels would be welcomed.
Indoor games of different kinds are wanted. These wishes will be brought to the attention of the Y.M.C.A.
There is a sport ground where the men play foot-ball on Saturdays and Sundays. A sport box with equipment has arrived from the Y.M.C.A.
The mail was said to be pretty fair. Although the battalion was previously dependent on Stalag XXID, it has now a "Feldpost-number" of its own. A letter from England takes an average time of five weeks. Many private parcels, some as old as 18 months, have arrived in the last few weeks.
From the 1st of January till now 10 Red Cross food parcels per man have been issued. At present were only a fortnights issue in stock.
XV.) WELFARE WORK
The camp had recently been visited by a representative of the Y.M.C.A.
There was a complaint that a man had been put in jail for five days at a police station and that during this time had been given no exercise. The Commander stated that as the camp was quite new there were not yet any cells and the man had therefore been handed over to the police. In the future the prisoners under arrest will be put in the cells in the adjacent work camp dependent on Stalag VIIIB and be allowed two hours exercise per day, to read and to write letters. The matter will be checked at the next visit.
There was also a complaint that all boot polish from private parcels had been confiscated. It was said that there is a general order that no chemical stuff of unknown composition can be handed out to the prisoners. It was, however, agreed to make an exception for boot polish in the future and only make tests now and again.
XVII.) GENERAL IMPRESSION
The general impression is a good one. There are no serious complaints and the British doctor, as well as the Man of Confidence, declared the treatment to be fair.
All matters subject to complaint in this report have been discussed with the local camp authorities. Defects which the local camp authorities refuse to correct or state they are unable to correct have been taken up with the German High Command.
Dr. Folke Malmquist.
Thanks to Colin Tosh for this report.