POWs

German POWs in Germany

The manner in which German POWs were treated after the war was deplorable. Whereas during the war the treatment by both the German military authorities of Allied prisoners and Allied military authorities of German prisoners was "correct" in terms of complying with the Geneva POW convention of 1929 (99% of American POWs taken by the Germans returned home), when the fighting stopped, so did compliance by the Allies with the convention!

* The first hurdle was to escape "summary execution" by whoever captured them. This was by no means a rare occurance.
* The second trial was to survive the brutal conditions that captured German soldiers were forced to endure.
* The possiblity that one could be "selected" for a "war crime" trial, not necessarily based on any actual crime committed
* Release into society with no support for the trauma they had gone through, both during and after the war
* Returning to non-existant homes with numerous "relationship" issues

The Rheinwiesenlager were the final resting places for many German Prisoners of War. The English translation of "Rhine meadow camps" makes them sound like nice places; the actual conditions there were far from pleasant, as can be seen in the following photo (Note the lack of shelter and facilities) [1] What is generally not well known is that the shortage of food and water causing constant hunger and thirst, the miserable accomodation meaning that everyone was completely unprotected from bad weather and the witholding of medical facilities resulting in epidemics, that all contributed to the eventual death of so many POWs in American-run camps, was part of an overall plan! The responsibility for the treatment of German POWs held by the Americans fell under the auspices of the US Army in Europe; the commander of that army, General Dwight Eisenhower!

It should be noted that at the end of the fighting in Europe, the British and US authorities basically scrapped any adherance to the Geneva Convention of 1929. With unbelievable arrogance they avoided accusations of not looking after German POWs by simply abolishing that term, from then on referring to them as "Disarmed Enemy Forces" (DEFs) or "Surrendered Enemy Personnel" (SEPs); they could now not be accused of mistreating POWs because they no longer had any!

One website that gives, in my humble opinion, a good background as to the events that led to the conditions in the Rheinwiesenlager can be found here [2]
For those that do not need the English version, the German version can be found here [3]
Further information can be found here [4]

Read "Other Losses" by James Bacque

Images of the Rheinwieslager

One
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Two
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The Location of the Rheinwieslager

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German POWs in England

The British authorities did not release German POWs when the fighting was over but, by basically ignoring the Geneva Convention, kept thousands of German POWs as "forced labour". This carried on until at least 1948! How many people are aware that it was German POWs that laid down the road leading to Wembley Stadium! If you doubt this then read here [5]

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