Texte und Quellen

Report einer englischen Lager Inspektion April 1915 (engl.)

The following is a description from Cd 7861; Reports by United States Officials on the Treatment of British Prisoners of War and Interned Civilians at Certain Places of Detention in Germany., Miscellaneous No 11 (1915); H.M.S.O., London;

Cd 7861

Güstrow in Mecklenburg

The camp is situated at Premierburg, in pine woods, about 5 kilometers from the city of Güstrow. The whole establishment is new, and is built to accommodate 26,000 prisoners. At the time of my visit there were in it only 6,000, of whom about 300 were British, although it has contained as many as 21,000 (600 British) at one time. It is used as a distributing camp, parties being drafted from it continuously to go to other camps where agricultural labour can find employment, or where work is to be done in the way of public improvements. Formerly the prisoners were housed in tents, but during the early winter they were all transferred to solid newly-built wooden barracks, lighted by electricity and heated. Generally the British soldiers occupy separate rooms in these barracks, accommodating from 60 to 65, but as men are continually coming and going, a few of them share rooms with soldiers of other nationalities. Senior non-commissioned officers live together, about a dozen in a room. The rooms are well filled, but do not appear to be overcrowded. The free space outside the barracks is large, with ample room for exercise and games of all kinds are played. The bathing and washing facilities are good, the men being obliged to bathe once a week, but permitted to do so as often as they like. The latrines are fair. They are at some distance from the barracks, disinfected daily and emptied as often as necessary. The lazarettes seemed good. In them was a relatively large number of sick, owing no doubt to the fact that so many of the well men originally brought to the camp had been sent off on working parties. There were several cases of dysentery and typhoid among the British soldiers and there had been about 30 deaths among them since the camp was opened last summer as the result of wounds or sickness. Patients in the lazarette had a special dietary and appeared to be satisfied with their treatment by the German doctors. In regard to the food generally there were the usual complaints regarding its character and quantity and the quality of the bread. Cooks of all nationalities are employed under German supervision, who told me that the quality of the material furnished is good. The prisoners themselves control the quantity furnished and are able to assure themselves that they receive the full ration. Meat is given every second day. The canteen was about as usual. The postal department was well organized. I was able to test its card system by referring to the card of a British soldier who had been in the camp to my knowledge and had been sent elsewhere. British soldiers told me that their parcels – with few exceptions – had arrived promptly and in good order and that they were opened in their presence. Clothing is furnished when required, if asked for. Much of the clothing for distribution among the prisoners in this and other camps is made here from cloth brought from Belgium. There are several work rooms, and most of the men who have trades can find something to occupy their time and can earn a little money.

Most of the British soldiers spoke of harsh treatment immediately following their capture – at the beginning of the war – and while they were being transported to Germany, and several spoke of their having been handled roughly while in the tents. Others said that frankly that most of those who had been treated badly since they came to the camp had done something to deserve it. In any event all admitted that the present treatment was good and that there was now no discrimination against the British. British soldiers had never been called upon to do more than their fair share of the dirty work about the camp. A party of Russians had always been in charge of the latrines, voluntarily, in return for some small compensation. The spirits of the British prisoners seemed good.

There was a catholic chapel in which French priests who had been captured as combatants officiate, and on Sunday evenings a room is provided for Protestant services. The commandant told me that he was trying to arrange for visits from a Belgian clergyman.

April 10, 1915.

Thanks to Doug Johnson / Quelle: Forum 1914-1918.invisionzone.com (2010)