Memorandum

 

        With reference to the report on Stalag Luft IV enclosed in the Federal Political Department's note No. B.52.GBr.(1) 1 Stalag Luft IV NL/Bi No.59209) of the 22nd November, 1944, attention is drawn to the following matters which have ground for serious complaint.

        1. No air-raid shelters have been provided and the German authorities do not intend to make provision for the prisoners in this respect.

        2. On the arrival of the prisoners of war from Stalag Luft 6, much of their personal property, including clothing, was confiscated and that these confiscations were carried to such an extent that even badges of rank and religious emblems were stripped from the persons of the prisoners in contravention of Article 19 of the Geneva Convention.

        3. Medical and dental equipment supplied by Relief Societies as well as the personal possession of the Medical Officers, were similarly withdrawn, and at the time of the visit of the Protecting Power delegates very few, if any, of the articles confiscated had been restored or returned to their rightful owners.

        4. All private clothing, including any articles contained in next-of-kin parcels, had been withheld by the Camp authorities and a number of the prisoners are without overcoats. Red Cross and personal parcels left behind at Stalag Luft 6, which were to have been forwarded to the new camp, had not arrived there. These matters constitute breaches of Articles 6 and 26 of the Convention.

        5. It appears that Sergeant Stevens, Royal Air Force, Prisoner of War No.275 who died at the camp on 29th July, 1944, was not buried with full Military honours and that none of the deceased man's comrades was allowed to be present at the ceremony. It is understood that this prohibition was imposed as a result of a new order from the German High Command forbidding the presence of prisoners of war during the obsequies of their deceased comrades.

        6. General conditions at this camp present several unsatisfactory features, chiefly as a result of overcrowding. There is a lack of furniture, including beds, and sanitary and washing facilities are inadequate.

        It is noted that the Inspectors of the Swiss Legation, Berlin, have taken up with the German authorities all of the matters of complaint referred to above. It is, however, requested that they will express to the German authorities the profound dissatisfaction of His Majesty's Government at the conditions which obtain at this camp, contrary to the principles of the Geneva Convention, and, in particular, at the manner in which the prisoners have been deprived of their personal possessions and parcels, and of the clothing and other property that has been confiscated, and will furnish further report on this matter, together with a list of personal effects which have not as yet been restored.

        As regarding the alleged new order of the German High Command, concerning the funeral of prisoners of war referred to above, it is requested that His Majesty's Government are anxious to learn whether this order is in fact being universally carried out in camps where British prisoners of war are detained. If this is so, it is requested that the Swiss Legation at Berlin will make appropriate representations to the German authorities.

 

FOREIGN OFFICE, S.W.1.

20th January, 1945.