TRANSLATION BY THE LONDON DELEGATION OF THE INTERNATIONAL RED CROSS COMMITTEE

 

STALAG II D. (Canadians)

Visited on 26.2.44.

by Dr. Schirmer & M. Paul Wyss

 

Canadian Camp Leaders: KINGSTONE R. Arthur, No.26561

Strength: 759, whereof 216 in the camp, 5 in the infirmary and 538 in the Labour Detachments.

        Among these 759 men.

710

1

16

22

1

9

come from Stalag 344

   "        "        "     V B

   "        "        "     VII A

   "        "        "     IV B

   "        "        "     XIII D

   "        "        "     XVIII A

        480 more prisoners are expected to arrive from Stalag 344 in a day or two.

        Among these 759 prisoners are:

                1 W.O.T.

                4 Sergeants

            & 15 Corporals.

 

General Remarks.

        All the Canadians from the various German Stalags have been gathered together at Stalag II D; from there they are distributed in the various agricultural Labour Detachments. This is an order coming from general Head Quarters which was given when it was made known, through the prisoners repatriated from Canada and the reports sent by the International Red Cross Committee Delegates and by the Protecting Power Delegates, that the German prisoners are very well treated by the Canadian authorities. This is a favour granted to all Canadian prisoners in Germany. All the Canadians are gathered together at Stalag II D and are distributed, usually by groups of 25 to 50 men, to the large local estates.

 

Living accommodation.

        The Canadians are usually housed in two large brick buildings; the living accommodations are separated from one another by the washing places installations, the laundry installation and the kitchen ranges used for the cooking of individual dishes. In the living accommodation part, three tier wooden bunks are installed on the right and on the left of the room. The free space in the middle is occupied by benches or chairs; their number does not correspond to the number of prisoners and they cannot therefore all sit down.

        Each one has a palliasse stuffed with wood-shavings, and three blankets. The light is weak so that the prisoners cannot read or write in the evenings, unless they remain quite close up to the lamp. The rooms of the compound can be heated, by the use of 2 or 3 stoves made of brick; the quantity of fuel issued is, however, inadequate to heat them properly. The Camp Leader and his assistants are housed in a small room, of which he also makes use as an office.

        According to the statements of the German Commandant, all the Canadians, with the exception of a few are distributed in various Labour Detachments and, in about two months' time, the strength of the actual Camp itself will not be more than from 80 to 100 men. The Canadians will thus have more space for living quarters and will, moreover, be able to have a Common-Room. As the first batch of Canadians only arrived at this Stalag on the 24th of January 1944, the whole installation is only provisional at present. The Commandant of the Stalag, however, assured the delegate that the quarters of the Canadians will soon be excellent.

 

Food

        The Canadians receive the same food as other prisoners; this is prepared by French prisoners. According to the Camp Leader, the quantity is what is usual, but that the quality is not good enough and all the prisoners are glad to receive collective parcels from Geneva. Numerous prisoners are without the necessary table utensils (mess-tins, plates, forks, knives and spoons), but the Camp administration will soon remedy this lack. Besides the German ration the prisoners are able to prepare the contents of individual parcels on stoves set aside for this purpose. They have enough fuel for this.

 

Clothing

        All the prisoners have at least one battle-dress, some of them even have two. Their underclothing is in good condition and more or less new, as are also their boots. The reserve stocks of clothing are exhausted and the prisoners would be grateful to the International Red Cross Committee for a consignment of battle-dresses, underclothing, pullovers, overcoats, caps, boots and socks. As the Stalag strength will soon increase to about 2,000 men, when the Camp is enlarged, it is necessary that any consignment sent should be proportionate to this number.

        The prisoners do their own washing and have enough soap and hot water for the purpose.

 

Canteen

        The Canadians have no canteen of their own, but, on the other hand, they can go to the canteen of prisoners of another nationality; this canteen is exceptionally well stocked and they can buy there all articles of daily use, (tooth-brushes, razor-blades, pencils, matches and beer).

 

Hygiene

        The camp has a disinfectant plant where clothes are disinfected by a hot-air method. Each newly-arrived Canadian takes a showerbath and his clothes are disinfected.

        The camp comprises a large showerbath installation which has, however, not been in working order for the past 6 months, so that the Canadians take one hot showerbath a week in another section of the camp.

        The latrines are in good condition, and conform to hygienic standards; there are enough of them. They are disinfected every day with chloride of lime and, when it becomes necessary are emptied by means of a pump.

 

Medical Attention

        The Canadians have no doctor and no medical orderlies at their disposition. They receive medical attention from doctors of other nationalities; the Camp Leader states that the medical attention given is satisfactory in every way. At the present time 5 prisoners are undergoing treatment in the Infirmary; these are all mild cases, accidents sustained at work, and two cases of slight bronchitis). The Installation is excellent, the patients have iron bed-steads furnished with a mattress, two sheets and a pillow with a cover.

        A dentist of another nationality gives dental attention; the prisoners appear satisfied with his work.

        According to the Canadian Camp Leader, the general state of health of these prisoners is excellent. No deaths have occurred.

 

Leisure and Intellectual and Religious Needs

        The Camp has only recently taken in any British prisoners. The Canadians were installed in the place of prisoners of another nationality. Their two huts in the actual camp itself, are surrounded by a circle of barbed wire. Some of them may, however, visit the canteen to buy what is necessary for the groups of comrades of which each one going to the canteen is a representative. Some of them, also, go daily to the kitchen to fetch their compatriots' food in wooden buckets. The Camp Leader, the prisoner who is responsible for Red Cross parcels and the one who is responsible for the Camp Police, have the right to move unrestrictedly about the whole camp.

        The prisoners have a certain number of books; they have formed a theatrical company and an orchestra, but they have not yet had the opportunity to perform and the arrangement of the room intended for a Common-Room has not yet been completed.

        Sport  The prisoners have some footballs and some hand-balls, but the large sports ground is only available for their use at certain times, as it is also used by prisoners of another nationality. The Camp authorities will do their utmost to provide a sports ground for the exclusive use of the Canadians.

        The prisoners have enough games, and a gramophone.

        A chaplain cares for their spiritual welfare; Mass is celebrated in one of the huts.

 

Correspondence

        Prisoners can write two letters and 4 cards a month; mail takes a very long time to arrive at the camp - sometimes from 3 to 4 months.

 

Collective parcels

        On the 29th of January 1944 the prisoners received 2,512 British Red Cross parcels and 28 American Red Cross parcels; on the 5th of February 1944 they received 2,000 British Red Cross parcels, 500 Canadian parcels, 500 Invalid parcels. On the 13th of February 1944 they received 704 more parcels (Christmas parcels) and 30 gramophone records.

        The Camp Leader takes charge of Red Cross parcels administration and distributes a certain proportion each week - one Red Cross parcel and about 50 cigarettes per head. Up to the present time the prisoners have not established a Red Cross parcels Store-room and the parcels are therefore stocked in the men's living quarters. The stocks of clothing were exhausted by the last distribution made from them.

 

Work

        The Canadians are divided among 16 agricultural Labour Detachments. Each Detachment consists of an average number of from 30 to 50 men, the Camp Leader of each of these groups maintains close contact with the Head Camp Leader of the Camp itself. The conditions under which the prisoners work are moderately good, the treatment they receive appears to be excellent. When a complaint of any kind is raised by a Labour Detachment, the Camp Leader is able to interview the German Commandant at any time in order to report it. The Camp Commandant, for his part, takes immediate steps to hold an enquiry into the matter raised.

 

Pay

        This is regular in every way; no complaints were raised by either side.

 

Anti-Air-Raid precautions

        When there is serious danger from the air the prisoners can go and take shelter in large trenches dug for this purpose.

 

Interview with the Camp Leader without witnesses

        1. The prisoners have no canteen. Reply  One shall be opened.

        2. The huts are overcrowded. Reply  In a short time only 100 men will remain on the camp as the others will be sent away to various Labour Detachments.

        3. The prisoners have no Sports ground. Reply  One will be made available to them.

        4. There is no doctor specially allotted to them. Reply  A doctor shall be specially appointed to look after them medically.

        5. The Camp Leader has no proper office of his own. Reply  He shall be given one.

        6. The Camp Leader would like to be able to visit the various Labour Detachments, which is, at present forbidden. Reply  Permission to visit them periodically shall be given to him.

        7. Many prisoners in Labour Detachments have no overcoats. Reply  A consignment of uniform clothing, including overcoats, boots, underclothing etc... would be welcomed.

        8. The prisoners have neither a Recreation nor a Common-Room. Reply  These shall be established.

 

Requests

        For 2,000 men

                Uniforms

                Overcoats

                Footgear

                Underclothing

                Caps

                Packs of playing cards

                Gramophone

 

Conclusion

        This Canadian Camp has only just been organised; when all the points mentioned above have been attended to, this Camp will be what it should be.

 

 

COPY OF TELEGRAM

 

From International Red Cross Committee, Geneva.

To Delegate, London.

Sent: 22.3.44.

Received: 24.3.44.

 

ELT INTERCROSS LONDON

 

Stalag II D 26th February Camp Leader (Canadian) Arthur Kingstone 26561 Strength 759 Canadians of whom 216 at Camp 538 in 16 Labour Detachments on agricultural work. Coming from following camps: 710 from Stalag 344, 1 from Stalag V B, 16 from Stalag VII A, 22 from Stalag IV B, 1 from Stalag XIII D, 9 from Stalag XVIII A. 480 expected from Stalag 344. Concentration carried out under orders from high-up in view of advantages granted to German prisoners in Canada. Accommodation soon less crowded as soon as new Labour detachments have been formed. Food mediocre Largely completed from contents Red Cross parcels. Clothing situation good but no reserve supplies in hand Strength to be taken into account 2000 Canadians. Sanitary installations adequate New arrivals disinfected Medical and dental treatment excellent 5 cases slight accidents sustained at work and bronchitis. Infirmary liked State of health remarkably good. No death Chaplain celebrates mass regularly Library 100 books Theatre Orchestra Sports Games Gramophone Correspondence according to regulations replies in 4 months Working conditions normal Camp Leader distributes parcels weekly. Pay and discipline well regulated. Camp Leader can visit Labour Detachments. Some improvements decided upon. Good impression.

 

INTERCROIXROUGE B 9698