Date of visit: January 4th, 1944.
Zweiglager Annaburg IV D/Z.
Camp Commander: Oberst Bier
Lagerführer: Hptm. Söhnel
German Doctor: Oberstabsarzt Dr. Otto
Abwehroffizier: Hptm. Lehmann
Indian M.O.C.: Sgt. Ram Ditta (5795)
Senior M.O.: Capt. C.S. Singh IMC (29)
German High Command Accompanying Officer: Major Römer.
I. GENERAL DESCRIPTION.
No change since last visit about 3 months ago, except for a new little shed with 12 fire-places for preparing Red Cross food. This improvement is highly appreciated by the men and is a result of the representations made on our last visit.
II. CAPACITY AND PRESENT PERSONNEL.
The total strength, including all work-camps depending on this Zweiglager, is 2793 Indian prisoners of war. In the camp itself are at present 1772 men.
III. INTERIOR ARRANGEMENTS.
A new prayer-room for Mohammedans has been put at the men's disposal - There is no overcrowding at present and the lowest bunk of the triple-tier beds is generally not occupied. Besides the main-barrack, a large concrete building formerly used as an NCO school, there are 6 wooden barracks in the training grounds.
IV. BATHING AND WASHING FACILITIES.
Owing to a break-down of the only large boiler, the men had no baths for the last five weeks. The damaged parts have been sent for repairs. In the meantime a limited quantity of hot water is available from the kitchen.
V. TOILET FACILITIES.
VI. FOOD AND COOKING.
Food and cooking is reported to be satisfactory. No objections whatsoever had been made on this point although the delegate made special enquiries with regard to the note of the British Legation, Berne, dated November 23rd 1943.
VII. MEDICAL ATTENTION AND SICKNESS.
The Indian M.O., Capt. Singh, states that the general state of health is very good. No complaints with regard to the drinking water. On the day of visit 43 cases of influenza were treated. 30 medical orderlies are not recognised so far.
Satisfactory. Shoe-repairing material is much needed, specially nails. Two questions with regard to the exchange for lost articles and the control of the clothing-stock in camp were settled at the conference with the camp authorities.
The same insufficiency as reported under heading IV applies to this point. Monthly soap issue is regular. The laundry is done by the men themselves.
X. MONEY AND PAY.
The canteen is poorly stocked, its account shows a fair amount of profit. The man of confidence is consulted when money from the canteen-fund is spent.
XII. RELIGIOUS ACTIVITY.
In order. No restrictions whatsoever with regard to religious activities. More leniency concerning the celebration of irregular Hindu and Mohammedan holidays, particularly with regard to the forthcoming Ramathan festivities, was recommended by the delegate. Commandant assured full attention.
XIII. RECREATION AND EXERCISE.
In order. Lectures are organized - a show-play will have its first-night the day after tomorrow and promises to be a great success - Musical instruments, books and indoor-games are available.
Mail is reported to be very scarce for the last 7 weeks. By an order from the O.K.W. air-mail to Egypt is not accepted.
XV. WELFARE WORK.
All Indian prisoners of war receive an extra blanket, making a total of three per man. As everywhere the coal issue had this winter been reduced. Fortunately the temperature did not fall very low and permission was granted to gather wood in the surrounding forests. As a matter of interest the figures of the issue of coal for the last three years are given below:
Tons of Coal:
Number of P.O.W.:
A complaint deals with two cases of ill-treatment by the guards or civilians. The first case happened about 5 weeks ago when some Ghourkas were beaten up by the forester for damaging young trees. Commandant has ordered a prosecution against the forester. The case is before court.
The other case, unknown to the commandant, happened about 3 weeks ago when one prisoner was beaten by an interpreter and a guard. The camp commander promised to have this case fully investigated and the necessary measures taken. Some minor plaints were settled at the conference with the camp authorities.
XVII. GENERAL IMPRESSION.
When the delegate entered the camp, all prisoners were assembled in the court-yard. Walking up and down the rows he repeatedly asked two questions, namely:
Do you feel the cold? Reply: No, Sir.
Do you have any complaints? Reply: No, Sir.
Indeed, the men made a good impression in both physical condition and spirit. Many of these prisoners are ranks who, during summer-time, are out on fatigue-parties, farm-work and gardening. During the winter-season they are not called up for work at all.
Propaganda: Three copies of the Indian camp journal are attached on this report and may be of interest to the Government of India.
Information: The following report was passed on to the delegate privately: Indian Soldier Allah Ditta (7185) shot in September 1943, at Neuburg, Stalag V.C.
The Protecting Power will make immediate enquiries.
For the first time the undersigned delegate was refused by the German authorities to interview the Indian Men of Confidence and Medical officers without the presence of a German interpreter. When the delegate expressed his greatest astonishment, accompanying officer O.K.W., Major Römer, very politely asked him not to insist. He referred to an order of the O.K.W. which had been introduced because, as he declared "Indian prisoners tend to exaggerate".
Nevertheless, the delegate is under the impression that the Indian Men of Confidence and Medical Officers expressed themselves freely and unbiased.
(Sgd.) R.E. DENZLER.
WORK-CAMPS DEPENDING ON ZWEIGLAGER ANNABURG IV D/Z
Arbeitskommando W.158 Wittenberg (Eisenwerke Joly)
Date of visit: January 5, 1944.
Indian Man of Confidence: Cpl. N.K. Abdul Aziz (6393)
I. This work-camp is housed in rooms adjoining the grinding-department of the above named factory and forms part of the proper factory buildings. There is one fairly large sleeping room divided up into two sections, one prayer-room, shower-and bath-room, latrines and a good kitchen for cooking Red Cross food stuff. A recreation-room is also at the disposal of the prisoners.
II. 55 Indian Prisoners of War form the camp's complement.
III. Triple-tier beds, 3 blankets and good palliasses in the sleeping quarters. In the recreation-room where also the meals are taken is a sufficient number of chairs and tables as well as very good iron lockers, one to share between two men. All the rooms are adequately heated by central heating. Electric light is everywhere.
IV. Satisfactory. 5 showers and 16 taps are at the men's disposal. Hot showers are available every day.
V. Latrines were built after the men's own design. In order.
VI. The cooking is done in one central kitchen where one stove is reserve for the Indian prisoners of war. An Indian acts as cook and prepares the meals on his own fashion. Food is reported to be satisfactory.
VII. The men have three times a week sick parade with a British Medical Officer at the Revier near-by. There is a sanitator in camp, but the medical supply is rather scarce. Besides that, there is the factory's doctor and sanitator available. General state of health is reported to be quite good.
VIII. Every prisoner has two uniforms and good boots. To some of the men who are handling rough materials aprons and gloves are provided.
IX. The washing is done by the men themselves. Soap issue from the firm.
X. Correct. The men are mostly engaged in the grinding department, on transports and other various odd jobs at the factory. 9 1/2 hours actual work. Sunday is always free. Saturday afternoon is sometimes free.
XI. Very poor. Besides the usual supply from Stalag, only soda-water is available.
XII. All the men at this camp are Mohammedans. They have a nice little prayer-room at their disposal and no restrictions whatsoever are in force.
XIII. The prisoners are allowed to sit in the factory-garden facing the river where some tables and benches are built. Sunday walks are occasionally organized. Neither of these two facilities find the men's appreciation at the time being, as it is too cold for them to go out.
XIV. Mail is reported to be very slow and a number of the prisoners have never received any mail at all although they write regularly home. This causes a certain depression amongst them.
XV. Cinema performances are regularly arranged. Some musical instruments are also in camp.
XVI. The general wish of all the men is to go back to Annaburg for sleeping and return in the morning for work. Unfortunately Annaburg is too far away and therefore this wish could not be met. Another complaint was the occasional ill-treatment by the civilian foremen and the guards. It appears that these cases were chiefly due to lack of understanding, for instance, a foreman pushing a man from one machine to another. The Delegate made strong representations at the conference with the works-manager and the guards-company Commander who promised to do all in their power to prevent man-handling.
XVII. The Indian prisoners of war feel somewhat lost in that big factory and cannot very well accustom themselves to the everlasting noise and what they think too long working-hours. The accommodations are reasonably good and the Kommandoführer is interested in the well-being of his men.
Arbeitskommando A.16 Wittenberg (Sidol-Werk)
Date of visit: January 5, 1944.
Indian Man of Confidence: Pte. Ali Zaman (4923)
I. This camp was opened on the first of December 1943 and is housed in a very good and pleasant barrack, with a large court-yard, all within the factory's enclosure. The barrack contains 2 sleeping-rooms, one day-room, a very nice and well equipped kitchen and a Red Cross parcel store-room.
II. 60 Indian prisoners of war are in this camp.
III. There are double-tier wooden beds, 3 blankets, wardrobes and sufficient sitting accommodations in the rooms. Very good new stoves and electric lights are installed.
IV. Very good. An adequate number of taps with running cold water in the washroom. Good bathing facilities in the factory near-by. Hot water boiler will be installed in the near future.
V. In order. The latrines are in a corner of the camp's yard.
VI. Food is stated to be very good. It is prepared by two Indian cooks in the well equipped kitchen adjoining the day-room where also the meals are taken. Red Cross parcel food can also be cooked in the same kitchen.
VII. Twice a week sick parade with a British Medical Officer. Emergency cases are attended by a German civilian doctor. Medical supply in camp.
VIII. In order.
IX. Laundry is done by the men themselves.
X. Correct. The men are engaged in loading and unloading waggons, in the packing department and on some very light work in the factory, a chemical work for cosmetics.
XI. Small issue from Stalag is all that can be bought.
XII. At this camp are 32 Mohammendans and 28 Hindus. The Delegate asked for a prayer-room and this wish is being considered by the work's management.
XIII. In order.
XIV. In this camp too, some men have never received any mail at all.
XV. Cinema performances are organized and the Man of Confidence made an application for some musical instruments to Stalag.
XVI. No complaints at all.
XVII. A pleasant camp, good physical state of health. The Kommando-führer is a very nice man and looks well after the Indian prisoners of war.
Arbeitskommando Stadtverwaltung Wittenberg
Date of visit: January 5, 1944.
Indian Man of Confidence: Cpl. Naik Goneshital (4560)
I. This camp was opened about 2 months ago and is formed by one very large barrack divided into two sleeping rooms, one day-room, a kitchen, a prayer-room, a canteen-room with four beds for the camp's staff and a washroom with adjoining toilets.
II. 129 Indian Prisoners of war form the camp's complement.
III. The rooms are furnished with triple-tier beds of the wooden type, good stoves and an adequate number of sitting facilities in the recreation-room. There is electric light and the corridor holds the wardrobes, one per man.
IV. Satisfactory. Hot showers are available at the town-works, once a week.
V. In order. 6 seats, pit-type.
VI. Food is stated to be satisfactory. It is done in town in a large common-kitchen. Two of the men act as Indian cooks. Red Cross food preparation somewhat restricted by lack of fuel.
VII. Sick parade three times a week with a British Medical Officer. Medical supply from Stalag in order.
VIII. In order.
IX. The men do the laundry themselves. Soap issue is granted.
X. Correct. The men work for the Stadtverwaltung on various odd jobs, such as sweeping streets, digging air-raid trenches, pipe-laying and transports. 9 1/2 hours actual work.
XI. Beer and lemonade and some articles from Stalag are for sale.
XII. With the exception of three Mohammedans and three Christians all these prisoners are Hindus. They have a nice little prayer-room.
XIII. In order.
XIV. Indian mail is reported to be very slow and many men have not received any mail at all since they have been captured, although they write home regularly.
XV. Cinema performances are occasionally organized and some indoor games provided by the YMCA are in the camp.
XVI. No serious complaints. A few minor questions were straightened out on the spot in the presence of the guards-company Commander.
XVII. Fairly good camp.
Kranken-Revier (Kgf.) Weinberge, Wittenberg.
Date of visit: January 5, 1944.
British Medical Officer: Major G. Parks, RAMC (228364)
Approximately three months ago Major Parks, who came from Italian captivity, assumed charge of this Revier.
I. Fairly large brick building, former restaurant with concert-hall, forms this Revier. The concert-hall is the actual sick-room and is divided into two sections, the first one for British, French, Serbian and Dutch prisoners of war; the back section is reserved for Russians.
II. The capacity of the Revier is 102 men. On the day of the visit 6 British patients were treated besides a number of prisoners of war of other nationalities. Three French and three Russian orderlies work under Major Parks' and a German Non Commissioned Officer's supervision.
III. The ward is furnished with double-tier wooden beds, rather small stoves and a few chairs. Electric light.
IV. The washing facilities are very poor. There is one pump in the court-yard and some wash-basins are available. Hot water must be boiled in the kitchen. No bathing facilities. Only patients who are able to walk can have baths in town.
V. Adequate in number, but very primitive. Pit-type.
VI. The food is drawn from a kitchen in town. Red Cross food preparing facilities very limited.
VII. The work-detachments have three times a week sick parade with Major Parks. The British Medical Officer decides whether a man is fit for work or not. Medical supplies from the German side is very scarce. Red Cross medical supply in order. Major attends all the Indian work-detachments in town as well as some British commandos depending on Stalag IV B, in the neighbourhood. Some of these work camps will be visited by the Delegate next month as all these men have recently arrived from Italian captivity.
VIII. Major Parks drew attention to the very bad clothing condition of all the men who arrived from Italian captivity.
IX. In order. Three blankets are distributed to all non-Russian prisoners of war.
X. In order.
XI. No canteen.
XII. None so far.
XIII. In order. The British Medical Officer has his regular walks, very often without guard.
XIV. No incoming mail yet.
XVI. Beside the poor sanitary conditions and accommodations the British Medical Officer had no complaints.
XVII. This Kranken-Revier is rather primitive but, as the British Medical Officer reports, he is at least able to do something and thinks general conditions far superior to those experienced in Italy. The spirit of the British patients was high and the Delegate was pleased to find some old friends from his former inspection-tour to Stalag VII A Moosburg here and in good spirits.
RUDOLPH E. DENZLER