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dsetzer,dsetzer wrote:Yes, of course, you are right, the Wiesenlager (Meadow Camps) were horrible.
I am doing a translation of a German soldier's memoirs who was interrned at Horazdovice. That camp was not nearly on the scale of the ones at Remagen and elsewhere inside the German boarder. His narrative is very explicit in describing the hardships suffered by the men inside the fence.
The US Army was totally overwhelmed by the task. I picture their inital attitude to be, „Our boys have fought hard to get this far, and we are not going to short them on rations and supplies to the benefit of our enemies.“
Couple that with the fact that the 'jailers' were combat troops who had no police or prison training or experience whatsoever and it was a clear recipe for a disaster. The German soldier's memoir mentions that the prisoners were being fed solely from captured Wehrmacht stores. For the most part they had to rely on captured medical personnel inside the fence for the meager medical care they could receive.
That being said, the commandant at Horazdovice was not indifferent to the plight of the POW's in his charge. When they noticed that the death rate among the youngest internees, the 12 – 14-year old child-solders and Volkssturm was greater than the older men, he took steps to get the children better food and care.
This German soldier also got very fair treatment when he was interrogated by three Jewish intelligence officers. Initially he was suspected of being a Super-Nazi.
Horazdovice was in what would become the Soviet sector. All of the POW's had fought against the Russians and according to the Allied agreement they were to be turned over to the Russians. Nevertheless, the American commandant faced down the Russians at the point of a gun barrel, then took it upon himself to evacuate as many of the German POW's as he could before finally being ordered to yield the camp to the Russians.
The German officers in the camp scornfully called the German-American commandant a traitor to his country, yet he ended up saving the lives of many of the men who called him that.
As for the Jewish intelligence officers see:
The Ritchie Boys at http://ritchieboys.com/
and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Eem4BJDfQ4 for the full 90-minute documentary.
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