|POW in Europe|
|The situation of the PW's in Europe was completely different compared to the USA. In Europe the war caused many shortages and destructions. Beside that the Americans had no intension to care for the former enemy. So it were extremely bad conditions in the US camps. In the book "Other losses", written by James Bacque, he claimed that Eisenhower was primarily responsible for the catastrophe in the cages. Eisenhower let the German soldiers starve despite sufficient supplies, just due to his feelings of personal revenge. General Eisenhower was in his own words on a "crusade in Europe". The Canadian Bacque estimates, that about 1 million soldiers died in US custody. The anthology by Bishop and Ambrose tries to refute the thesis of James Bacque. They doubt that there where 1 million casualties. However they admitted that the description by Bacque, regarding the situation inside the camps, is true. |
An report, of the 11 to 12 million German prisoners of war in 20 custody states, is a publication made by the "scientific commission for the documentation of the destiny of the German prisoners of the second World War". With up to 16 employees and important scientists, that commission became 400.000 statements of men returned from captivity, 50.000 reports as well and own interviews, published in 22 volumes at more than 10.000 printed pages. This report, commissioned and financed by the Adenauer government, came to the conclusion 5.000 PW's died. It's not known if Adenauer's pro West policy had effect on that outcome. After ten years work, when the study had been finished, the (socialist) Westgerman chancellor Herbert Frahm, better known under his pseudonym "Willy Brand", ordered that this report had to be closed and prohibited publishing. He wanted to avoid a public discussion in Germany or even worst in the foreign countries. In his opinion people could get the impression, that a crosscheck would be opened about the injustice of the Allies against the injustice of the Nazis. He was scared that this could endanger the foreign policy turned toward reconciliation.
The historian Rüdiger Overman comes to 22.000 death in US camps. So how many men exactly died in the cages is not known but it's a fact that the SHAEF had a considerable problem with 5 million prisoners at the end of the war.
In this air picture of the "Rheinwiesenlager" represents every dot a German soldier sitting on the bare field for month. They graved holes to be protected of the wind at least. Some drowned in their foxhole when it rained strongly because they were too weak to creep out, died by their war wounds, by diarrhea, starved..... A horrible catastrophe. The viable prisoners where obliged to forced labor in France and England for many years. To this the Americans submitted to the French powers approx. 800.000 men. The need of the prisoners was particularly great in France. This doesn't have to be explained by revenge, hate or prejudices but we must consider, that large portions of France were destroyed and the Frenchmen had to suffer under a lack of food also. On 8-21-1945 the ICRC wrote a memorandum, that the life of 200.000 German POW's in French custody where immediately endangered, 2000 would hardly recover, 2000 could take no food and had to be fed artificially and 600.000 men had only inadequate accommodations what dangers their life in the approaching winter. Like on a slave market, farmers chose their workers. Thigh, arms and teeth were examined but the soldiers had not to be naked during that procedure like in Russia. A speedy dismissal was offered to soldiers who voluntarily reported for mine clearing commands in view to their highly dangerous job. But, the explanation was even given in writing, the soldiers who risked their life day for day were sent to the coal mines later. That made the prisoners so brittle that some recruited to the Foreign Legion either and died for France on battle-fields in Alger or Indochina, mutilated their self or tried an escape like 171.029 POW did.