Date of visit: June 29th, 1944.
STALAG LUFT IV.
Camp Commander: Lt. Col. Bombach
Assistant: Major Stehle
Accompanying Officer from the German High Command: Major Siegmann
Man of Confidence: Tec/Sgt. Richard Chapman, POW No.1004.
I. GENERAL DESCRIPTION.
This new camp is situated right in the country in the north of Germany, about 30 miles from the sea. There is no important industry nor military target in the vicinity.
The camp is still in the course of building; when completed it will be divided in:
one "Vorlager" with the administrative barracks for the whole camp (for instance Red Cross parcels and clothing stalls), the camp lazaret, the delousing plant, etc...
four compounds of the same size: each one of these compounds will be built exactly on the same line for 1600 prisoners of war.
At the time of the visit, only one of these four camps was completed and occupied. The compound No.2 is supposed to be ready by July 15th, compound No.3 by August 1st and compound No.4 by September 1st.
Therefore, when the whole camp is completed, it is meant to accommodate 6400 prisoners of war.
The camp is very well laid out with modern wooden barracks, much space between the barracks and a large playground in the middle of each compound.
Each compound will form a separate camp with its own administration, cooking, entertainment, etc.
II. CAPACITY AND PRESENT PERSONNEL.
As mentioned under point I, the compound No.1, already occupied, has a capacity of 1600 prisoners (10 living barracks of 160 prisoners each).
At the time of the visit there were 1485 American non-commissioned officers (among them were 4 British RAF non-commissioned officers; the Protecting Power has made an application to the German Authorities in order to have them transferred to a British camp).
200 more American non-commissioned officers were expected so that the compound No.1 will be full to capacity and even slightly overcrowded until compound No.2 is ready.
III. INTERIOR ARRANGEMENTS.
In each compound there are 10 living barracks, 2 wash-huts, 2 latrines and 1 kitchen-barrack with a recreation room.
The living barracks are of the usual new type of the German army with a central passage and 5 sleeping rooms on each side; each room accommodates 16 prisoners. In every living barrack, there is a wash-room with a boiler for hot water and a night-latrine with two seats.
The sleeping rooms are furnished with double-tier wooden beds of the usual type, with one or two tables and enough stools for all the prisoners.
The day - as well as electric light is adequate; for the winter, each room will be provided with a coal stove.
Like in many camps, the ventilation at night is not sufficient, the shutters which are plain, have to be closed the whole night and only one pane in each of the two windows is allowed to be opened. Therefore the rooms are very stuffy and hot during the night. The camp commander was asked by the delegate of the Protecting Power to improve the ventilation by allowing the windows to be opened and by cutting openings in every shutter, but he refused for safety reasons, arguing that the prisoners would then be in a position to watch the German guards and to notice their movements, which would help them for escaping purposes.
On the other hand he promised to improve the ventilation in some other way, but this can only be done when the whole camp is completed, that is not before the month of September; therefore the matter will be taken up with the O.K.W.
Each prisoners is provided with two blankets of rather better quality than in most camps. Lights are turned out at 11 p.m.
IV. WASHING AND BATHING FACILITIES.
Besides one wash-room (without running water) in each barrack, there are two special wash-huts; these are not provided either with running water and the prisoners have to draw the water from a pump outside the hut. They wash in basins, two of them being provided for each room; this, of course, is not sufficient and the camp commander agreed to issue more of them.
The water from the pump is ground-water of good quality and the discharge is sufficient.
A large delousing plant with plenty of hot shower baths is in course of building in the "Vorlager", but, according to the camp commander, will not be finished before October. In the meantime, the prisoners have no possibility of bathing as there are no showers installed inside the camp. For the time being, the prisoners must help themselves as they can with the hot water at their disposal in the wash-rooms of the barracks.
V. TOILET FACILITIES.
There are in each compound two latrines with altogether 80 seats. They are of the pit-type and emptied regularly.
As mentioned before, there are two night-latrines in every barrack.
VI. FOOD AND COOKING.
The kitchen is large and well installed with modern boilers. The cooking is entirely in the hands of the prisoners and there was no complaint about the quality or the quantity of the food issued.
For the time being, there is no facility for the cooking of Red Cross parcels stuff; the commander does not allow cooking in the sleeping rooms. A large stove has been ordered and will be installed in the main kitchen for that purpose.
In the meantime, certain items from the Red Cross parcels like meat and fish, are pooled and cooked in the main kitchen for the whole camp.
Four weeks after the opening of the camp, the first consignment of Red Cross parcels arrived from Geneva and there is now a certain stock of them; however, the man of confidence was unable to tell the number of parcels in stock as the whole administration of them is in the hand of the Germans.
The delegate of the Protecting Power protested very strongly against it and insisted on the whole administration of the parcels being put entirely in the hands of the American prisoners, as it is done in all the other camps; he was supposed by the accompanying officer from the O.K.W. and the matter will certainly be settled satisfactorily. This point will however be taken up again with the O.K.W.
VII. MEDICAL ATTENTION AND SICKNESS.
The camp lazaret, which is in course of building, will not be finished for some time and in the meantime a camp revier has been installed in one of the barracks with 24 beds (single iron beds); at the time of the visit they were unoccupied.
Two American medical officers had just arrived in the camp and therefore were not in a position to give many informations to the delegate of the Protecting Power. Their names are:
Capt. Wilbur E. MCKEE, No.3057.
Capt. Henry G. WYNSEN, No.3063.
They are now assisted by six non-medical orderlies who have volunteered and have proved very helpful; ten recognised sanitators are on their way to the camp and were expected to arrive at any time.
Serious cases are sent to the lazaret of the nearby town of Belgard. One prisoner is there now.
Most of the patients are men with wounds or burns received when shot down; a list of the more serious cases is annexed to this report. Eight of these prisoners have already been examined by the Mixed Medical Commission and selected for repatriation. The Protecting Power will request the German authorities to have them transferred to a "Heilag" pending their repatriation. Some of the other ones should be examined by the next Mixed Medical Commission and the American medical officers of this camp are going to take the necessary steps to that purpose.
There is not yet any dental station but one will be installed in the camp lazaret and an American dental officer has already been applied for by the camp authorities. In the meantime, the urgent dental cases are sent for treatment to the civil German dentist of the next town.
The situation with regard to clothing is far from satisfactory; there are still many men in the camp without a full uniform or without a pair of boots. An application has been made some time ago to the I.R.C.C. in Geneva, but so far, no consignment has arrived.
The attention of the O.K.W. will be drawn on this very serious shortcomings.
The prisoners have to do their own laundry.
X. MONEY AND PAY.
The prisoners have not yet received their monthly allowance of RM. 7.50 from the German Authorities; when discussing that point with the camp commander, the delegate of the Protecting Power was told that arrangements had just been made and that the prisoners would very soon receive their pocket money.
In the meantime the camp has received a sum of RM. 10.000 - as a gift from the American officers of Stalag Luft 3.
There is so far no canteen in the camp. The camp commander emphasised the great difficulty of procuring stuff for the canteen, but he promised to take every possible step in order to provide the prisoners with some articles mostly needed, like matches, razor-blades etc., as well as beer.
A certain amount of stuff, like tooth-brushes, tooth-paste, etc. was received from the American officers of Stalag Luft 3.
XII. RELIGIOUS ACTIVITY.
There is no church in the camp and no chaplain either. An application has been made some time ago by the camp commander for American army chaplains, but none has arrived so far.
In the meantime, one of the prisoners reads the service every Sunday.
XIII. RECREATION AND EXERCISE.
The recreation and studying facilities are so far very limited as no material has yet been received; besides, there is only one rather small common room (in the kitchen barrack). No theatre room is foreseen in the whole camp; there is a great shortcoming, particularly in a non-commissioned officers camp where prisoners do not work and the O.K.W. will be asked to have a theatre built in each one of the 4 compounds.
As mentioned before, there is a large sports field inside each compound, but so far no sport gear has been received; however, the camp was visited some time ago by a representative of the Y.M.C.A. who promised to provide sport articles, games, books, etc.
The incoming mail was said to be very irregular; many of the prisoners complained of having not received any letter from U.S.A. since many months. A list of these prisoners will be sent to the I.R.C.C. in Geneva.
XV. WELFARE WORK.
The camp has not yet been visited by a delegate of the Red Cross.
(1) The man of confidence reported of the death by shooting inside the camp of Tec/Sgt. Aubrey TEAGUE. A special report will be forwarded to the American authorities.
(2) The man of confidence complained of the lack of barber's equipment; the camp commander promised to do his best in order to supply the camp with scissors, hair cutting machines. This will be checked at next visit.
XVII. GENERAL IMPRESSION.
With the exception of the few shortcomings mentioned, this camp, when completed, will be really satisfactory from the material point of view.
The commander does not make a bad impression; he seems to be a strict disciplinarian but is not ill-disposed towards the prisoners. However, like many commanders, he seems to be haunted by the fear of prisoners escaping and therefore his first care seems to be the safety measures to be ordered sometimes regardless of the welfare of the prisoners.
As a whole, this camp can so far be considered as a good one.
signed Gabriel NAVILLE.