The Prisoner of War No 34 Vol 3 February 1945

m%fm v t t F f ism m f W a v Vol. 3 No. 34. Free to Next of Kin February ,1945 THE FOOD SITUATION By Maj.-Gen. Sir Richard Howard-Vyse, K.C.M.G., Chairman o f the Prisoners o f War Department D.S.O., I KNOW well that many of our readers are much dis­tressed b y letters from Camps which indicate alack of food, and I am writing these lines in order to explain the situation and, I hope, to provide some comfort. B they month o f May we had established in Geneva a stock of some twelve weeks’ supplies, or about two million parcels. Thereafter, while the parcels continued to leave Geneva a t the rate of 160,000 a week, they ceased to (low in, because the port of Marseilles was closed, first owing to unfortunate accidents to two of our ships, and then because of the invasion of the South of France. In September, for fear of being left with no parcels at all, we were compelled to reduce issues to a parcel a fort­ night. There could have been no worse moment to do this, with the cold weather approaching, and hopes vanishing of release before Christmas, and it is only too natural that our prisoners should feel depressed as well as hungry. The situation was further aggravated b they decision of the German High Command not to allow reserves of food parcels in Camps, in consequence o f which some Camps were compelled to consume not half a parcel, as they should have done, but as much as two or even more parcels in one week. This resulted, of course, in the disappearance of the rest of the Cam pre­serves which had been built up against just such an eventuality as stoppage of despatches from Geneva. But, from the latest in­formation we have, it seems likely that this order will be considerably modified, so that, as soon as transport is available, Geneva maybe able to establish such re­serves once more. In some Camps, too, numbers have been greatly increased b y transfers from other Camps, as well as by newly captured prisoners. Red Cross parcels being unloaded at Stalag 344, one of the largest camps in Germany. The worst instance of this is Sta lag 357, which has been swollen b y practically the whole of Stalag L u ft VI, who apparently were not allowed to bring their food reserves with them. In view of the train shortage which must exist in Germany to-day— and which, incidentally, must be materially helping to shorten the war— it is perhaps unfair to attribute this entirely to ill-will on the part of the enemy. Now for the brighter side of the picture. In the first place, I want to stress that, while we ourselves are pretty fully informed as to the situation, practically all our news, and more besides, is in the hands of the International Red Cross Committee of Geneva, who of course get it before we do. The Committee therefore possess what everyone must have before they can act I mean Information. The point is, have they the means to act? A s to this, the situation which originally obliged us to reduce the issue has vanished. The resumed flow via Mar­seilles, plus supplies which are ingoing via Sweden, is establishing once more a reserve in Geneva. The full issue of a parcel a week can now be resumed as soon as there are sufficient stocks in Camps. I t is entirely a question of rail transport through Ger­ many. It would not be sur­prising if the shortage of this were acute, but as a matter of fact, we have a t the moment two reasons for feeling hopeful. One of the principals c :the Relief Sec­tion, of whom I happened to see a great deal when I was myself in Geneva, has sent us a distinctly encouraging report of a visit he has just paid to Berlin. And the International Red Cross Committee have told us that they hope to get the Christ­mas parcels to all Camps by the middle of January .In view of the Russian advance it is dangerous to prophesy about the future.( toO t fif . oerlcaf) THE OFFICIAL JOURNAL OF THE PRISONERS OF WAR DEPARTMENT OF THE RED CROSS ST.AND JOHN WAR ORGANISATION. ST. JAMES'S PALACE. LONDON. S.W.I
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