Red Cross Report, Stalag IXB, 10th June 1943

Enclosure No.2 to Despatch No.6205, dated September 25, 1943, from American Legation, Bern.

 

Stalag IXB June 10,1943

On arriving, I met the Deputy Commandant, Major Osterhagen, and the Security Officer, Capt. Brünger. The great majority of the prisoners here are French, and they almost overwhelm the Belgians and Serbians. The Serbs in the main camp are all disabled and can do only light work. They have a special hut. Some hundreds of Serbs are in ten working detachments, three of them being engaged in industrial work and the rest in agriculture. Today, only five Belgians were in the camp. Two hospitals belong to this camp: Dieburg, with its branch, Kleinzimmern, four kilometres away, and Soden/Salmünster. In Diesburg, there are only Frenchmen. Kleinzimmern, Section "B", has seventy-five Serbs, of whom thirty-five have tuberculosis of the lungs. In Soden/Salmünster there were two Serbian Jews, one Polish Jew, and one Belgian.

 

I had a long conversation with the Senior Serbian Prisoner, Ludovic Demitric, No. 35834, with the help of the German interpreter. He is the man through who all correspondence with the Serbs is carried on, and he gave me a full account of the special requests of his fellow-countrymen. The representative of the disabled Serbs is a lawyer, Dr. Bratitsch Dusan, No. 35838. Another outstanding Serb is an engineer, Todorowitsch Miloch, No. 35817. He recently sent me a request list, and today, I was able to give him some of the material he wanted; the rest will be sent later.

 

I found that the material for book-binding, and sports ordered from the Y.M.C.A. had arrived. As the French have plenty of athletic goods, and the Serbs nothing at all, an arrangement has been made that sports material, especially footballs, should be given to the Serbian working detachments.

 

A burning problem at present is that individual prisoners often order and receive materials privately without the knowledge of the Senior Prisoner. Thus the leaders are no longer able to judge what the resources of the camp really are. This is important for the whole camp; for when it is seen that certain prisoners have plenty of material, one is apt to think that the general need has been satisfied, but very often that is not the case. In order to maintain the solidarity of the common life of the camp, it has been arranged that all requests are to pass through the Senior Prisoners.

 

During my talk with the Senior Serbian Prisoner I was given a list of the material which is needed. I shall send it to our Berlin office. In the camp and the detachments, there are hardly any Serbian Bibles, light literature, etc. Fourteen books had just arrived through the Serbian Red Cross, and the men were very grateful. More are, however, wanted. At Easter a new request was made for an Orthodox priest to be permanently attached to the camp, or at least to visit it regularly. If this is not possible, it is requested that two, or at least one of the capable school teachers in the camp, should be given the right to conduct Orthodox religious services. The most suitable man for this is the teacher Miroslaw Neditsch, in working detachment 324. In order to do this service properly he needs an Orthodox church handbook called "Trebnik".

 

The Serbs have ordered uniforms from the International Red Cross, two hundred of small size and three hundred of large size. The clothes of the Serbs are very much worn. Three weeks ago food parcels came, so that each prisoner was able to have one. The men would be grateful if it could be arranged for them to have such parcels at definite intervals.

 

I read over my report of my last visit to this camp (22.5.42) with the Security Officer. He agreed that it gave a good summary of the conditions of leisure activities in the camp. There are now 24,000 books in the camp and 350 circulating library boxes. It is reckoned that there are two books for each French prisoner. There are about seventy field chaplains, of whom each has six to eight working detachments to serve.

 

A plan was worked out according to which I shall later be able to visit the hospitals and working detachments of this camp where there are Serbs and Belgians.

 

(Sgd.) GUNNAR CELANDER.

 

 

Red Cross Report, Reserve Lazarett Stalag IXB, 25th August 1944

Reservelazarett, Stalag IX B.

Visited by Dr. Landholt and Mr Wyss, 25th August 1944.

 

British Camp Leader

BEDDING, Major Geoffrey, No.23911

 

Strength

 

British

Australian

New Zealand

Canadian

South African

Indian

American

 

Total;

Total

24

4

4

2

2

1

14

 

64

Officers

3

-

1

-

-

-

8

 

11

N.C.Os.

10

3

1

1

-

-

8

 

31

Privates

11

-

2

1

2

1

-

 

22

1 Doctor, 6 members of the medical personnel.

1 Sports instructor

2 Australian teachers for the blind.

 

General Remarks

This hospital is composed of two large buildings. The upper building is used as the ophthalmological post, and prisoners with face wounds or who have had their faces burnt are also treated here. At the time of the Delegate's visit, there were no cases of trachome; but if there are any, they receive hospital treatment here as long as they are in the first stages.

 

Situation and Accommodation

The hospital is in a lovely district situated on the edge of a wood. Accommodation is excellent, especially at the ophthalmological post. There are about 4 beds in each room. Ventilation, lighting and heating have given no grounds for complaints, even in the winter. The beds are large comfortable hospital beds.

 

Food.

Each building has large kitchen maintained by the Sisters of the establishment. The food is sufficient. Diets are fully provided for, and there are enough stoves for preparing the food from the collective consignments. The patients receive daily, as an extra ration, half litre milk, and 50 grams of honey.

 

Clothing

Most of the patients are British and American airmen who have been brought down and whose clothing has been burnt. It is most important, both for the patients there at the moment, and for those who will come in the future, to build up a stock of clothing, and it is for this reason that Major CHARTERS has sent the following to Geneva:-

                            For Americans:                For British:

Sizes:

Coats

Trousers

Shirts

Socks

Vests

Pants

Tunis

Handkerchiefs

Shoes

Caps

Pullovers

Medical coats

Large

1

1

1

10

5

5

5

-

1

-

-

-

Medium

3

3

3

10

5

5

5

10

3

10

-

-

Small

1

1

1

10

5

5

5

-

1

-

-

-

Large

1

1

1

1

3

-

-

-

1

-

1

-

Medium

3

3

3

6

10

-

-

20

3

10

3

5

Small

3

1

3

1

3

-

-

-

2

-

-

-

This consignment is very urgent.

The doctors have enough doctors blouses and also, there is no lack, at present of pyjamas for the patients.

 

Sanitary Arrangements

At the ophthalmological post the patients may take as many showers as necessary, and the other sanitary equipment is equally satisfactory.

 

Medical Care

Major CHARTERS, an excellent doctor, is in charge of the ophthalmological care of the patients, and he is assisted by a gymnastics instructor and by two teachers for the blind, WILLIAMS and MONTE CASTLE, who are Australians. The arrangements of this institution are satisfactory. There are several outfits of instruments for operations, most of these have been sent from America and England. The only difficulty is that it is not possible to sharpen these instruments, however, there are enough reserves to last a long time yet, and this defect is therefore not notice-able. There are two operation theatres in this establishment. There are sufficient materials for the re-adaptation of the blind. There is also a dentist working in the establishment.

 

The lower building is, above all, regarded as the radiological centre for the Wehrkries IX, and patients are sent here to be radio-graphed, from all the other hospitals. The radiologist who worked here was transferred on the 28th July 1944 to the hospital for the prisoners from Stadtroda. Ever since the 1st July 1944 the Head Doctor has been endeavouring to get a new radiologist specialist but in spite of his repeated efforts no one has arrived yet. Recently, also, there had been no radiographic apparatus, one has been placed in the room; but it is still packed up. The Head German doctor said that it would be installed in the next few weeks.

 

Dental Care

The prisoners needing attention to their teeth are sent to STALAG IX B. The dental equipment in this Stalag are satisfactory in every way.

 

Men un-fit for service

There are four blind at the ophthalmological post, and three of these have been passed as un-fit for service by the Mixed Medical Commission. The fourth one, HORSFIELD, Terence, No.43800 has not yet been seen by the Commission.

 

Canteen

There is no canteen. Razor blades and beer is distributed to the medical staff.

 

Recreation and Intellectual and Spiritual Needs

There are no religious services for the British prisoners and they do not ask for them.

There are about 2000 books in the library, sent from the Stalag, the books are both English and French.

There is a theatre in the lower building.

 

Work

The prisoner doctors considers that the working conditions are good. Walks are arranged three times a week.

 

Pay

This is regular. There are no un-recognised members of the medical staff at this camp.

 

Correspondence

Owing to current events, this is difficult.

 

Collective Consignments

The reserve of the Ophthalmological Station comprises:

200 food supplies

60 invalid parcels

4 tobacco parcels

50 razor blades

20 brushes

20 razors

20 combs

30 shaving soap

50 toothpaste

 

Both for the American and the British the following have been ordered:-

500 food supplies

200 invalid parcels

 

Discipline

The relations between the British doctor and the German Commandant are excellent, and could not be better in any way.

Doctors are allowed out for walks three times a week without being accompanied. The British doctor never goes out, so that the question does not arise.

 

Interview with the Camp Leader

The Delegates were able to talk to the doctors and camp leaders without witnesses. The British doctor submitted no complaint.

 

Final Interview with the German Authorities

1) It is absolutely necessary that the radiological equipment should be installed in this hospital.

2) When will a radiologist arrive?

Reply: One was asked for some months ago, and one will probably arrive in the next few days.

 

Requests

Collective consignments (see above) 3 games of chess, 3 games draughts, 20 ping pong balls and other games.

 

Conclusion

The general impression of the camp is good. The morale of the American and British patients is good, considering the serious-ness of their cases.

 

 

Letter from the US Secretary of State

Secretary of State,

Washington.

1015, Fifteenth.

Dated February 15, 1945

 

AMERICAN INTERESTS GERMANY POWS

Given below is substance Swiss note February 13: Inspector Swiss Legation Berlin January 24 visited Stalag IX B at Bad Ord strength 5 protected personnel 1263 noncoms 2807 privates all captured Western Front arrived Bad Ord end December and during January camp well situated but not prepared receive these POWS. Necessary premises not available internment conditions most inferior especially with respect sleeping accommodation food clothing and sanitation. Commandant stated POWS only in transit at Bad Ord non coms departed January 25. Swiss Inspector insisted that indispensable improvements be made he informed Intercross of complete lack food parcels and clothing and pointed out POWS in urgent need thereof. James Amcross Genera and SHAEF informed.

 

HARRISON

 

 

Red Cross Visit to Wehrkreis IX, 6th to 21st March 1945

Date sent: April 17, 1945

Date received: April 19, 1945

 

1564. General visit Wehrkreis IX from 6th to 21st March following camps Oflag IX/A/H/Z, Stalags IX/A, IX/B, IX/C, Lazaretts Stadroda, Hildburghausen, Badsoden, Obermassfeld, Meiningen, Schleitz, Trysa. Situation critical for those there since beginning and prisoners evacuated under very bad conditions from camps in the East. Considerable loss of weight, dysentery, diarrhea, hemorrhagica, generalized pneumonia, hygiene non existent, vermin swarms, danger typhus, clothing in shreds. Barracks and tents overcrowded, prisoners sleep on bare floors or unclean straw. Extremely small portions of food. Stalag IX/B without salt for weeks. No shipments since several months, supplies extremely urgently needed, food, clothing, shoes, drugs, in particular Sulfoguanidine, Sulfopyridine, opiates, disinfectants such as Iodemerfen ("Swiss preparation zyma mercury-bromat with iodine") antidyptheria serum, typhus vaccine, penicillin, material for dressings, blankets, utensils. Grave danger of epidemics. Sanitary installations altogether insufficient. Soap, toilet paper completely lacking. General apathy. Representatives harassed with questions. High percentage death. Oflags relatively better. No new arrivals of prisoners. Food conditions better but no shipments of food received, necessity constitute reserves for foreseen arrival evacuees. Lazaretts not in as poor condition at Stalags because prisoner less numerous. Medical care still sufficient but symptoms of disease caused by undernourishment.

 

Intercroixrouge H9746

 

 

Letter from the US Secretary of State

Secretary of State,

Washington.

2054, Seventh.

 

AMERICAN INTERESTS, GERMANY.

Legation's 2025, April 7, 306 to Paris.

 

Swiss report inspector Swiss Legation, Berlin, March 23 visited Stalag IX B at Bad Ord. Strength 3,333 American noncoms, enlisted men and 2,047 British noncoms and other ranks. American and British sections of camp greatly overcrowded; some sleeping on ground, suffering from undernourishment owing lack Red Cross parcels and heavy reduction German food rations. Inspector reports lack of medicaments and urgent need of Vitamins A, B and C and sulphonomite tablets. Camp conditions unsatisfactory. Germany authorities apparently unable effect any improvements whatsoever owing complete lack of materials. Feared that undernourishment will increase number of sick.

 

James, Amcross informed; repeated to Paris for General Barker and for Widewing B, to Spaatz for McDonald, attention Bradford.

 

HARRISON.