CONFIDENTIAL

No.450

BRITISH/USA

STALAG IV B MUEHLBERG

 

Date of visit: May 17th, 1944.

 

Camp Commander: Oberstlt. Stossier

German Doctor: Oberstabsarzt Dr. Schmidt

Lagerführer: Hptm. König

German High Command Accompanying Officer: Hptm. Keller

British Man of Confidence: WO G. Meyers RCAF (122)

Senior British Medical Officer: Major A.G.D. Whyte RAMC (249172)

 

******

 

COMPLEMENT:

        7132 British prisoners of war, including 2021 British Air Force N.C.Os. About 40 of these prisoners are US citizens who served with the Canadian Forces.

        As a matter of interest I wish to report the strength of prisoners of war of other nationality:

                French        917

                Belgians          9

                Dutch          779

                Italians       2569

                Poles            117

                Yugo-Slavs   497

                Russians        several thousands

 

ACCOMMODATION:

        The British section is accommodated in 42 barracks with adjacent large sports grounds. Interior arrangements see previous reports.

        Latrine accommodation (except night latrine) and ablution facilities are satisfactory. The bath house is an excellent one, but baths are too infrequent for personnel permanently in the Camp apparently because of the bath house being so much required for personnel in transit.

        The water is good, but its supply to some barrack rooms is inadequate.

        Some barrack rooms appear overcrowded with resulting prevalence of respiratory tract infections. Several barrack rooms are not watertight, the Lager Offizier promised immediate repairs. Cooking and heating facilities are satisfactory enough.

 

FOOD AND COOKING:

        As a result of an agreement made with the commandant on the occasion of my last visit, the British section has now received its own and new kitchen. It has been taken over on April 17th and is under the direction of RQMS W. Richardson. 50 British cooks are employed there. The Detaining Power has co-operated fully so far as it has been possible to do so, both on the site of rations and equipment, but lack of containers makes it necessary to issue food in undesirable iron bins. I have directed Commandant's attention to this point and containers are being replaced as others become available.

        The cooking of Red Cross food supplies is at present done in the kitchen on a strictly communal basis twice a day.

        The general state of nutrition of the men in the Camp, all factors considered, is good thanks to regularly weekly Red Cross supplies. Adequate diets for sick are possible from British Red Cross Invalid Food and Milk parcels, and the Revier cooking facilities for these are now good.

 

HEALTH:

        Medical staff:

                Major A.G.D. Whyte. M.B.E. R.A.M.C. - Senior British Medical Officer

                Major J.Q. Ochse S.A.M.C.                    )

                Capt. C.P.M. Neethling, S.A.M.C.          ) Medical Officers

                Capt. H.A. Barker, R.A.M.C.                  )

                Capt. D.A. MacPherson, R.A.M.C.         )

                        Medical orderlies employed: 34

        The new Revier Barrack promised on the occasion of my last visit has in the meantime been constructed and taken over. It serves as infirmary exclusively for the British section and is very satisfactory. So far no bed linen has been provided for. Commandant agreed to an immediate allotment of not less than 50 sets.

        Prevalent diseases are respiratory tract infections, mumps, measles, scarlet fever, diphtheria. There have been no new cases of typhus exanthematicus since the end of March. Chicken Pox has also died down. There have been few cases of enteric of dysentery during the period of this report. There are many cases of malaria relapses in the camp.

        There have been a few cases of cerebrospinal meningitis. Ordinary respiratory tract infections are very common, likewise skin diseases and coetaneous infections of all kinds.

        There occur occasionally cases of major mental disease and more frequent cases of minor mental upset. There is definite difficulty in having cases of mental disease transferred to a suitable hospital. They have to remain either in the Lager or in the Revier, where they are very upsetting to the others. One had to be put in a cell of the Lager prisoner of his own safety and that of others.

        The supply of drugs and dressings by the Detaining Power is very poor indeed and quite inadequate. British Red Cross supplies form the main source of these and do not of course cover all requirements, being meant to supplement and not replace provision by the Detaining Power.

        For example, the following are typical weekly supplies for 400 ambulant and 150 bed patients, treated every day:

                Aspirin                  - nil for 3 months

                Benzine and Ehter - nil

                Alcohol                 - 300 cubic centimetres per week

                Calcium injections - 4 ampoules per week

                Purgative tablets    - 20 tablets per week

                Sodium Salicylate  - 60 tablets per week

                Bismuth tablets      - 40 tablets per week

        The newly erected infirmary in use for British personnel is a considerable improvement. It consists of two complete barracks. One has the accommodation for ambulant treatment, three wards, kitchen, office, store, and suitable annexes. The accommodation for ambulant cases is satisfactory, there being a waiting room, and a consulting and dressing room. Lighting and fixtures are good. The wards are well lit but the accommodation in them is taxed, as most of the beds are double bunks. The beds are hard, and paliasses being on boards. The storage, kitchen, office, latrine and ablution arrangements are satisfactory enough.

        The other barrack room has accommodation for convalescent patients and for British Medical Personnel, and is satisfactory as such, except that there is no running water and no ablution or latrine facilities.

        Accommodation for infectious cases is shared with other nationalities and is satisfactory, the barrack being composed of separate rooms with suitable offices and annexes. The same applies to the accommodation for cases of Tuberculosis.

        The facilities for radiography seem to be limited, as there is always difficulty in procuring radiographs for fractures, gastro-intestinal tract investigations, etc.

        The Lager-Lazaret which is situated outside the camp takes the more serious cases and provides for all nationalities. British cases: average 70 to 80 cases. There is a British Man of Confidence but no British Doctor or Orderlies, the medical staff being French under the supervision of the German stabsarzt. Commandant has now agreed to detail ten unemployed British medical orderlies to the Lager-Lazaret to care for the British patients. The S.B.M.O. has recently been allowed to visit the Lazaret for one hour once a week without escort.

        There is no British Dental Officer working here, but two British Dental Mechanics are employed for denture work. French Dental Officers carry out the necessary dental treatment. Supply of dentures is far behind the demand.

        Commandant agreed to apply for a British Dental Officer.

        Eye and Ear, Nose and Throat specialist consultations are now available once a week. This in inadequate especially for eye cases requiring tests for refraction because of large numbers awaiting examination.

 

PHYSICAL EXERCISES AND SPORTING ACTIVITIES:

        Recreation is well provided for in all its forms and the men take full advantage of the facilities.

        Association Football is extremely popular and the formation of a Competitive League of 64 teams has increased the interest in this Sport. Teams have adopted names of English and Scottish Professional teams. Inter-Service or International matches are held on Saturdays.

        Rugby Football is also largely supported and there is a league of 24 teams. Again, similar matches, as in Soccer, are held on Saturdays.

        The above mentioned sports are probably the most popular and are largely attended. Competition is keen and the standard of play excellent. Unfortunately the flinty nature of the pitches has caused a great amount of "wear and tear" on equipment and especially footballs.

        Another very popular Sport is Volley Ball. They have two Leagues, each consisting of 50 teams. Matches are played on 11 different Courts.

        As yet, no competitive leagues have been formed for "Tenniquoit" enthusiasts, but 10 Courts are in constant use. The game is quite popular.

        Basket Ball is also played, mainly by the Canadians and there are three pitches.

        Soft ball is also favoured by the Canadians and Americans, who utilise the Rugby Pitch for their "Diamond".

        Physical training classes have been organised and are led by 14 instructors.

        Approximately 100 men attended each class. Two sessions are held daily at 8.15 a.m. and 6.30 p.m.

        An excellent Boxing Ring has been completed for Open Air Tournaments.

        The remaining Sport, to be mentioned, is Swimming. At the moment the Swimming Pool is being re-conditioned and re-constructed. In the near future both Swimming and Life-Saving classes will commence. Prisoners are fortunate in having experienced Instructors.

        As can be seen from the above, all Sports are keenly supported by the majority. The direct result of this interest and active participation in both Sport and all physical exercise, is reflected in the high standard of general fitness of the majority of camp personnel.

 

EDUCATION:

        The camp school exists, nominally for six months. In fact, it was closed a fortnight after its first opening on November 22nd, 1943, owing to lack of accommodation. Nevertheless efforts were made to maintain private study groups throughout December.

        A fresh start was made on January 17th, 1944, when -- books having arrived and a Recreation Hut built -- 1973 students were enrolled for work in 22 subjects. In some of the latter notably French, German, Mathematics and Shorthand, as many as 15 separate classes were necessary. Unfortunately, quarantine regulations closed the school from February 29th until April 3rd, 1944.

        In spite of this disappointment a fair number of students enrolled again to continue the education.

        So far only one camp examination, Radio Engineering, has been held, besides one for Library Association Intermediate Certificate.

        Prisoners have inaugurated a weekly Discussion Forum to consider social problems under the leadership of selected speakers. The big attendance of these meetings, justifies the prisoners belief in the need to provoke reflection on post-war social and economic questions.

 

ENTERTAINMENTS:

        Camp Entertainment at first was very impromptu, there being no Theatre. Performances were restricted to Huts only, which meant building a portable stage, fixing lights, curtains, etc. every night whilst on Tour. The instruments being used were all brought from Italy, although insufficient in number.

        January 1944 saw the conversion of a normal bungalow into a first-class Theatre complete with Orchestra Pit, terraced Auditorium, Footlights, and with a capacity of 730 seats.

        A Camp Amateur Dramatic Society had been formed who has already presented its first play "BOY MEETS GIRL". A Dance Band presents matinee performances to a packed house. These activities continue splendidly.

        There is a lack of a piano and difficulty in obtaining accessories and musical arrangements.

 

CLOTHING:

        Thanks to regular supplies from Geneva the clothing and shoe position in this camp is satisfactory. There is a reserve stock on hand for new arrivals and men passing on transit to the various Work Detachments.

        Some boots supplied by the Red Cross proved to be of inferior quality known to have worn out with normal wear within a few weeks. It is herewith suggested to check the manufacturers of such articles. Prisoner cobblers are employed on the repairing of boots.

        There is an acute shortage of towels, but this problem is solving itself as many men are receiving personal parcels from home.

 

RELIGIOUS ACTIVITIES:

        There are two Church of England Chaplains, and one Presbyterian in the Camp. The Camp authorities have afforded reasonable facilities for carrying on the work, and have always shown themselves sympathetic and helpful. The Sunday services are held in the Theatre which accommodates about 750. Church of England and Free Church services are held separately in the morning, and in the evening all combine in a service at 6.30. During the week, in the education hut, in a small room provided for this purpose, a large number of classes are conducted. This room is also used for a mid-week Holy Communion, a mid-week evening service, and as a Chapel both for private and public prayers, morning and evening.

        There is a small Roman Catholic chapel in the Camp, where the blessed Sacrament is reserved. The men, in common with all other nations have free access at all times to the Chapel and have all the spiritual assistance that is usual in the Parish Churches in England.

        The French Theatre is made available for the occasions - Sundays and Holidays - when members are too large for the size of the chapel.

 

INFORMATION:

        1. I regret to report the death of SGT. H.D. MALLORY, R.C.A.F., R.113624, PoW No.222739, and injuries inflicted to SGT. W.W. MASSIE, R.C.A.F., R.150556, PoW No.222744, caused by a low flying Ju 88 aircraft on April 30th, 1944. The aircraft was flying lower than the height of a tree, rose, hopped over it and then descended down over the football ground, killing Sgt H.D. Mallory and injuring Sgt. W.W. Massie. The Court Martial prosecution against the pilot is apparently still pending, Swiss Legation Berlin to enquire.

        2. I regret to report the death of F/SGT. J.E. JONES, R.A.F., R.610981, PoW No.222403. The deceased was shot by a German sentry on March 27thm 1944. Ft/Sgt. Jones was at the time in the coalhouse in D North Compound. The sentry opened the door of the coalhouse and then fired his pistol without giving any warning whatsoever. Jones made no attempt to menace or evade the Sentry. From the position of the coalhouse and from the evidence, it is obvious he was not making an attempt to escape from the Camp. The only acts of which he was guilty were those of entering the coalhouse and attempting to take coal therefrom without permission. When shot he remained moaning on the ground for fifteen minutes without any attempt being made to render him assistance. Jones died in the Lazaret on April 2nd, 1944. Swiss Legation Berlin to undertake the necessary actions.

        3. The 167 Indian Non Commissioned Officers who were present in this camp on the occasion of my last visit on January 6th, 1944, under a disciplinary punishment for refusing to do campwork at Annaburg (see report No.343) have been transferred to camp Stalag 315, Epinal (France). It is understood that all Indian N.C.Os. formerly interned at the Zweiglager IV D at Annaburg have been transferred to Epinal. Swiss Legation Berlin to organize an early visit to these Indian prisoners.

 

GENERAL IMPRESSION:

        The Camp Commandant has consented to all my requests with regard to improvements. The camp has, of course, the deficiency of a mass-concentration, that is the confinement of several thousand men within a small area.

        Taking all pros and contras in the balance, I conclude, satisfactory.

 

RUDOLPH E. DENZLER.