The Great War Part 233, February 1st 1919

GREAT BRITAINS HUMANE TREATMENT OF GERMAN PRISONERS OF WAR. By Robert Machray. False Statements o f German Lead e -Hrs— inden burgs Allegations Refute d—D isin terested E v id enc e—Re p o r ts o f Americans when the United States was a Neutral— -Statement o f International Red Cross— Great Britain without Machinery a t First forD e a ling With Prisoners of War—S step Taken Promptly —Prison Camp sand Ships— Magnificent Work of Prisoners o f War Information Bureau —Organ isatio n o f Prisoners of War Department o f the War Office— E x ten sio n of the Camps— P rison eWers ll-F ed and Cheerful— Just Treatment as Regards their Lab our— W h a t they Did and How they W e rePaid— T h ire Fair Ration sin the Time o f S tra itn ess— -Their Guards— Only Four Escapes from the United King d o min the Whole War—T e stim o n y o f Prisoners Them selves o f Good Treatment— Undeniable Witness to the Humanity o f the British .one who knew the British people at all well would believe that their treatment of prisoners of war German or otherwise was cruel and barbarous or was in anyway like that which British prisoners of war suffered at the hands of the Germans as recorded in Chapter XCII. (Vol. 5, page 250) Chapter CLXVII. (Vol. 8 page 453) and Chapter CCXLI. (Vol. 11 page 293). Those chapters show conclusively that the Germans, with a few marked exceptions, regarded and treated their British prisoners as criminals to be punished with the most savage brutality in spite of the fact that The Hague Convention to which they them­selves were a party specially guarded as honourable the status of all prisoners of war and protected them accordingly. As with other compacts this agreement was in German eyes a mere scrap of paper, to be tom up or thrown aside at convenience. Furthermore German culpability in this grave matter was distinctly aggravated by assertions, made by their military chiefs as well as in the Reichstag that the British treatment of German prisoners was horrible and vile beyond expression. These assertions of the military and political leaders of Germany were clearly against the light for they knew perfectly well that there was no truth in them. To suit a special occasion they admitted as much. Thus in the Reichstag in 1917 Dr. Kriege of the German LIEUT .-GENERAL SIR HER BERT B E L FIELD, K .C.B. D.S.O. Having been in charge of the arrangements for enemy prisoners from the outset of the war Sir Herbert Belfield was in February 1915 appointed Director of the then newly- established Directorate of Prisoners of War. Foreign Office stated that the treatment of prisoners of war was better in England than anywhere else but the circum­stances in which he spoke were significant. He was explaining why certain exchanges of prisoners under specific agreements between Great Britain and Germany were not being carried out by Germany and said it was for “naval reasons," a specious phrase which covered the malign activities of the U boats. Germany was much more eager to sink British ships than to facilitate the release from captivity even of her own nationals. To quiet the fears however of the relatives and friends of these German prisoners, he assured them that there was no need for anxiety as prisoners of war were not maltreated by the British. This was not the view usually presented to the Germans, whose “hate ”of the British was stimulated by terrible pictures of the ruthless manner in which their fellow-countrymen were dealt within the United Kingdom. An instance of this was noted in Chapter CCXLI. (page 299). When visiting a hospital behind the western front Hindenburg sharply rated and then discharged an English-speaking German woman who had been nursing some British officers captured on the field of battle in the neighbourhood. The Field-Marshal declared that he would not permit them to be treated better than were “his brave soldiers who were so un­fortunate as to be prisoners of war in England.” His words were widely quoted throughout Germany as uu 401
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