From: Captain H. Montgomery Belgion, R.E. (Repatriated from Oflag IX A/H (Unterlager).

Address: C/O Midland Bank Limited, 147, Haverstock Hill, N.W.3.

 

MEMORANDUM on possible Political Aspects of the so-called "Holiday Camps" which have been opened in Germany for British prisoners of war and of the Appointment of "Welfare Officers" (Betruensoffiziere) at British Oflags.

 

1. German Personnel of "Holiday Camps" -

        There are 2 camps, one for officers, 1 for other ranks.

        The officers camp at Schloz Steinburg, Steinburg, bei Straubin, Niederbayern (no Oflag number) is in charge of Sonderfuhrer Dr. Falkner. He stated (July, 1943) that up to the outbreak of war he was correspondent of the United Press in Bavaria and Austria and stationed at Munich, and also Munich correspondent of the Daily Express. He claims close acquaintance with the British "Consul" Phillips. He is strongly Bavarian.

        The camp for other ranks, at Gonshagen, on the southern outskirts of Berlin (Stalag 344) is in charge of Sonderfuhrer Meyer.

        This summer the two camps were being directed by Dr. A. Hillen Ziegfeld, of the German Foreign Office, and author of two books about England.

        Dr. Ziegfeld is assistant to Dr. Hesse, whose position is said to be that of Head of the English Propaganda Department of the German Foreign Office. He was formerly a German press representative in London, and declared (July, 1943) that he was the last person to conduct (unofficial) negotiations with the British Government on the eve of war.

        The "holiday" period for officers was (July, 1944) from 5 to 6 weeks; for other ranks 4 weeks. In summer 1943, when the officers camp was opened in Berlin (in Kaunstr., Zellendorf West) officers were detailed to go there by the Germans. With the re-opening of the camp in Bavaria, officers are nominated by the Senior British Officer at Oflags in consultation with the British Medical Officer. How other ranks are selected is not known to the author of this memorandum.

        No propaganda is carried on at either camp. That is to say, the camps are intended to be their own propaganda.

 

2. Activities of "Welfare" Officers -

        German "welfare" officers (Betreunensoffizier) were appointed to Oflags for British officers in the Autumn of 1943. They were pressed by the Senior British Officers to stop the handcuffing at Oflag VII B (Eichstatt) and this ceased November, 1943. They obtained additional amenities for prisoners, e.g. better walks, visits to the town cinema for exhibition of the films (German or American) sent round to camps, reduction of overcrowding. They also have undertaken to deal with any personal requests by individual prisoners.

 

3. Anxiety for Good Opinion of Holiday Camps -

        There is one "welfare" officer for Oflags IX A/H (Unterlager) and IX A/H (Oberlager) and for Oflag IX A/Z. The first 2 are at Spangenberg; the 3rd at Rotenburg, both in Hesse. He is Hauptmann J.H. Hoffmann. He is assisted by Sonderfuhrer J. Brobinski. Hoffmann was connected for a dozen years with a cement company at Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, U.S.A. Brobinski is a secondary school master in Germany.

        Both Hoffmann and Brobinski were (June, 1944) almost excessively anxious that the so-called "holidays camps" should not be viewed with suspicion in England.

 

4. Talk of Need of Anglo-German Friendship -

        Hauptmann Hoffmann in professing anxiety for the betterment of conditions for British prisoners, has spoken of a need of Anglo-German solidarity for the "sake of the white race". Brobinski also is apt to dwell on the necessity of Anglo-German friendship.

        Hoffmann stated (June, 1944) his "conviction" that before the present struggle is ended, the British and the Germans will be standing shoulder to shoulder.

 

5. Divergent Nazi Views on Treatment of British Prisoners -

        Consul General (Major) Reinhardt (former German Consul General at Liverpool and now in the German Foreign Office) supervises exchanges of sick and wounded prisoners. He stated (September, 1944) that "extreme" members of the Nazi party could still see no point in the decent treatment of British prisoners.

        Adam von Trott zu Solz, of the German Foreign Office, stated (July, 1943) that it had been his idea - originally put forward in 1941 - that British prisoners should be treated as well as possible and should be shown the better side of Germany. He implied that the so-called "holiday camps" had grown out of his suggestion.

 

6. Exchange of Long-Term Prisoners -

        Consul-General (Major) Reinhardt spoke (Spring, 1944) of negotiations for the exchange of the long-term prisoners.

        Dr. A. Hillon Ziegfeld stated (May, 1944) that he expected prisoners of four years standing and more to be exchanged at the beginning of 1945.

 

N.B. M.I.9 has been given substance of paragraphs 1, 2 and 5.