The Prisoner of War No 37 Vol 4 May 1945

2 The Prisoner of War May ,194.5 REPATRIATION ARRANGEMENTS By Major-General Sir Richard Iloward-Vyse, K.C.M.G., D.S.O. (Chairman o f the Prisoners o f War Department) asked the I.R .C.C .and the P rote c ting Power to send representatives to these camps. When the German military authorities withdraw ,these representa­tive swill remain in charge o f the camps until the Allies arrive .The “Master ”Race The unspeakable a tr o cities perpetrated a t the concentration camps are a rev ela­tion o f the depths o f vileness to which German shave been brought b y leaders who invoked their pagan instincts and barbaric lusts. The victims o f these sub ­human torturers and murderers were almost entirely Germ ans, Poles, Jew s,and other Europe ans .enslaved b y the“M aster Race .Ordinary prisoner-of- war camps were not exposed to any similar system of torture. 450 Miles Winter March The treatment o f prisoners o f war who were moved from camp sin Silesia when the Russians app roached is evid en ce, -how ever, o f the gene rally callous cruelty o f the German to those in his pow er. They were marched for 450 miles in the depths o f winter. The German shad re­p vented them from making any prepara­tions for the move, and failed to make a d e q u ate provisions for food and a cco m ­mod atio nor for those who fell ill 011 the way .They were visited 011 the march b y a representative o f the P rote c ting P owe r,and a protest was made. The Secretary o f State for War ,answering question son this matter, added that the Germans were becoming more and more in cap ab leo f looking after thing sin their own c o u n try h,and e feared a good deal of hard ship was inevitable .Some camps were grossly overcrowded b y incoming prisoners from the East. “The Latest Reprisal” A petty e x amp leo f German vindictive­ness has income a report from O flag V f f Band Sta lag 357 (now cap tu red ),w n ere the British prisoners were ­ed p rived o f their mattresses, p alliasses and most o f their furniture ostensibly as a reprisal for the alleged ill-tre a tm e n t o f German prisoners in Egypt .The allega­tions, says Sir James G rig g ,were entirely without found atio n.An apt comment reached m e from a prison erin O flag V I I B :"Justin case you should get hold o f a garb led version o f tli6 latest reprisal, ..our mattresses and 90 per ce t,on four table sand chairs, were taken away .As you may im agin e,we have im pro vised and every body seems quite comfortable .”----------NEW ADDRESS?--------- If you have moved, do not forget to notify the Navy, Army, or R.A.F. authorities as well as the Red Cross of the address of your new home. It is MOST IMPORTANT that offical news should reach you without delay. THE repatriation o f British Com mon ­wealth prisoners o f w aron the Western Front is the responsibility o f S H A FinE conjunction with the War O ffic ewe have been inclose con­sultation with both a thou rites. The con­tinued resistance of the enemy has necessitated certain modification sin the original plans. Instead o f the great majority of the prisoners being freed a t the moment o f the signing o fan armis­tice ,and while instill their original s,camp they are now being recovered b y degrees. Some, mostly the sick ,are fo u n din camp sand hospitals, some have escaped and reached the allied lines, but most o f them are apparently being over ­taken while on the march .This makes it easier as regards the numbers to be dealt with a t any onetime, but much more difficult from the p o into f view o f making definite plans beforehand .Strictly speaking, a freed prisoner o f r,aw unless he is sicko r wounded ,is no longer a concern o f the Red Cross b u tit is u n think able that w e should imme­diately lose all interest in him .We have therefore prepared, in numbers sufficient to supply every man, gift bags contain­ing ara zo rand other toilet requisites, och co late ,cigarette s,and a message o f welcome. The message is from all the Dominion and Indian Red Cross S o cie ­ties, and not only from the War Org a ni­ satio s.n Many, but n o tall, thee x ­prisoners will need other articles such asp u llo ve rs, p y jam a sand socks, and these also w e are providing on a liberal scale, a swell as invalid diet and medical sup ­plies. T o assist in the distribution o f these articles, to give as much informa­tion as possible to the men while they await transport to this c o u n try ,and to co-operate with the Army Welfare officials, w e have enrolled a number o f our own representatives. Help in gin North-West Europe These plan shave already been put into opera tio nat Odessa, a n d,in order to complete the arrangements for North W e stE u rope, not long Iago paid a visit toSH A E F .As the rosult, 40,000 gift bags with the necessary proportion o f other supplies have already left this co u n try ,and another 60,000 are on order togo. Eight representatives have also left. The British Com mon wealth char­acter o f this service is em p hasised b they fact that these eight representatives in­clude 3 British (one o f whom has know ­ledge o fInd ian ),2 Australian and 1 each Canad ian ,South African and New Z e a ­lander. These have all gone to the ozone f one particular Army Group and will be called forward to P.o.W .Assembly Camps as and when required. Similar arrangements will have been put into operation in other zones before these words appear in print. W e are, o f course, extremely anxious th a tour Gift s,andBag especially the Message o f W elco me, should reacli ex- prisoners o f w a rat the earliest possible m omen tan dIam sure th HatS A E F and the various Army authorities con­cerned will give us every help in this. But some men are sure to miss them ,and stocks o f Gift Bags are therefore being sent to a porto f embarkation inN .W .Europe ,and to all counties in this c o u n try where Reception Camps are being established. I twill therefore be very bad luck if every man does not, at some stage oran tho er, receive our gift. The speed with which repatriation is a t present-being carried out may make it impossible to issue the more bulky articles such asp u llo ve rs. W e provided these origin ally in anticipation o f a fairly long await t staging o r transit camps overseas, and 110 one is likely to grumble if this does not m aterialise. Rec e p t ion Camp Welcome War Organ isa tio n representatives are alsop resen tat the Reception Camp sin this c o u n try ,an dare read y,in co-opera­tion with Army W elfa tore, welcome and help all repatriate s.In particular, I hope they will b e used to make arrange­ments for those who wish to be m eton their a r riv a lat their home station .Here, a g a in, I would em p hasise that the speed with which men are being passed through the various stages o f repatriation ,though admirable in every other respect, vein it­ ably results in administrative difficulties for the Red Cross. Reunion This brings us to the longed -fo timer o f reunion ,an event so intimate and so sacred th a tit seems inappropriate to in­trude upon it, even in print. W e think, how ever, that most next o f kin will be glad to have a d vic eon th every im -'po r tan t question o f diet, and with the kind help o f the Ministry o f Food we are drawing u p some hints which w e shall be c irc u la toting all next o f kin o f rep atria ted prisoners. A s regards the many other problems which may arise, w e have also prepared some notes, which w e have comm uni­ ca toted Joint Committees and Prisoner o f War Representative sin all counties, who are th erefo rein a position to give advice where it is needed .N.B .—This article has o f necessity been written in the second week in April and much o fit may therefore be out o f date by the time it appears in print.
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