Disarmed Enemy Forces

Discussions on the Holocaust and 20th Century War Crimes. Note that Holocaust denial is not allowed. Hosted by David Thompson.
User avatar
Hurtig
Member
Posts: 37
Joined: 09 Jan 2012 23:11

Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by Hurtig » 13 Jan 2012 15:42

Part I
GENERAL PROVISIONS

Art. 4. The detaining Power is required to provide for the maintenance of prisoners of war in its charge.
Differences of treatment between prisoners are permissible only if such differences are based on the military rank, the state of physical or mental health, the professional abilities, or the sex of those who benefit from them.

This provision was not adhered to in the camps on the Rhine.

Art. 6. All personal effects and articles in personal use -- except arms, horses, military equipment and military papers -- shall remain in the possession of prisoners of war, as well as their metal helmets and gas-masks.
Sums of money carried by prisoners may only be taken from them on the order of an officer and after the amount has been recorded. A receipt shall be given for them. Sums thus impounded shall be placed to the account of each prisoner.
Their identity tokens, badges of rank, decorations and articles of value may not be taken from prisoners.

This provision was not adhered to in the camps on the Rhine.

Art. 7. As soon as possible after their capture, prisoners of war shall be evacuated to depots sufficiently removed from the fighting zone for them to be out of danger.
Only prisoners who, by reason of their wounds or maladies, would run greater risks by being evacuated than by remaining may be kept temporarily in a dangerous zone.
Prisoners shall not be unnecessarily exposed to danger while awaiting evacuation from a fighting zone.
The evacuation of prisoners on foot shall in normal circumstances be effected by stages of not more than 20 kilometres per day, unless the necessity for reaching water and food depôts requires longer stages.


Art. 8. Belligerents are required to notify each other of all captures of prisoners as soon as possible, through the intermediary of the Information Bureaux organised in accordance with Article 77. They are likewise required to inform each other of the official addresses to which letter from the prisoners' families may be addressed to the prisoners of war.
As soon as possible, every prisoner shall be enabled to correspond personally with his family, in accordance with the conditions prescribed in Article 36 and the following Articles.
As regards prisoners captured at sea, the provisions of the present article shall be observed as soon as possible after arrival in port.

These provisions were not adhered to in the camps on the Rhine.

Art. 9. Prisoners of war may be interned in a town, fortress or other place, and may be required not to go beyond certain fixed limits. They may also be interned in fenced camps; they shall not be confined or imprisoned except as a measure indispensable for safety or health, and only so long as circumstances exist which necessitate such a measure.
Prisoners captured in districts which are unhealthy or whose climate is deleterious to persons coming from temperate climates shall be removed as soon as possible to a more favourable climate.
Belligerents shall as far as possible avoid bringing together in the same camp prisoners of different races or nationalities.
No prisoner may at any time be sent to an area where he would be exposed to the fire of the fighting zone, or be employed to render by his presence certain points or areas immune from bombardment.


CHAPTER 1
Installation of camps

Art. 10. Prisoners of war shall be lodged in buildings or huts which afford all possible safeguards as regards hygiene and salubrity.
The premises must be entirely free from damp, and adequately heated and lighted. All precautions shall be taken against the danger of fire.
As regards dormitories, their total area, minimum cubic air space, fittings and bedding material, the conditions shall be the same as for the depot troops of the detaining Power.


CHAPTER 2
Food and clothing of prisoners of war

Art. 11. The food ration of prisoners of war shall be equivalent in quantity and quality to that of the depot troops.
Prisoners shall also be afforded the means of preparing for themselves such additional articles of food as they may possess.
Sufficient drinking water shall be supplied to them. The use of tobacco shall be authorized. Prisoners may be employed in the kitchens.
All collective disciplinary measures affecting food are prohibited.


Art. 12. Clothing, underwear and footwear shall be supplied to prisoners of war by the detaining Power. The regular replacement and repair of such articles shall be assured. Workers shall also receive working kit wherever the nature of the work requires it.
In all camps, canteens shall be installed at which prisoners shall be able to procure, at the local market price, food commodities and ordinary articles.

These provisions were not adhered to at the camps on the Rhine.

User avatar
Hurtig
Member
Posts: 37
Joined: 09 Jan 2012 23:11

Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by Hurtig » 13 Jan 2012 15:49

Thanks for your explanation David, here is the link to the correct document.

http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/FULL/305?OpenDocument

Here is the Introduction text.


Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War. Geneva, 27 July 1929.
In t r o d u c t i o n [Display Full text] [Display articles] State parties (53) / State signatories (9)
General title Diplomatic Conference of Geneva of 1929.
Forum of adoption Diplomatic Conference convened by The Swiss Federal Council with a view to the revision of the Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armies in the Field of 6 July 1906, and the elaboration of a Code relating to the Prisoners of War
In force no
Provisions concerning the treatment of prisoners of war are contained in the Hague Regulations of 1899 and 1907. In the course of World War I they revealed several deficiencies as well as a lack of precision. Such defects were partly overcome by special agreements made between belligerents in Berne in 1917 and 1918. In 1921, the International Red Cross Conference held at Geneva expressed the wish that a special convention on the treatment of prisoners of war be adopted. The International Committee of the Red Cross drew up a draft convention which was submitted to the Diplomatic Conference convened at Geneva in 1929. The Convention does not replace but only completes the provisions of the Hague regulations. The most important innovations consisted in the prohibition of reprisals and collective penalties, the organization of prisoners'work, the designation, by the prisoners, of representatives and the control exercised by protecting Powers.


The 1929 Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War was replaced by the third Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949 (Geneva Convention III). It is no longer in operation following the universal acceptance of the Geneva Conventions of 1949.

Meetings of forum 01.07.1929 - 27.07.1929, Geneva
Date of adoption 27.07.1929
Depositary Switzerland
Number of articles 97 + 1 annex
Authentic text French
Source D.Schindler and J.Toman, The Laws of Armed Conflicts, Martinus Nihjoff Publisher, 1988, pp.341-364.

User avatar
Hurtig
Member
Posts: 37
Joined: 09 Jan 2012 23:11

Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by Hurtig » 13 Jan 2012 16:02

I was referring to the third convention of the Geneva conventions not the Geneva III conventions. Apologies if this was not clear.

David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 23722
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by David Thompson » 13 Jan 2012 19:07

Hurtig -- For a discussion, we need specific information about the allegation. I'll use this as an example. You wrote, quoting from the 1929 Geneva POW convention:
Part I
GENERAL PROVISIONS

Art. 4. The detaining Power is required to provide for the maintenance of prisoners of war in its charge.
Differences of treatment between prisoners are permissible only if such differences are based on the military rank, the state of physical or mental health, the professional abilities, or the sex of those who benefit from them.


This provision was not adhered to in the camps on the Rhine.
Article 4 deals with two concepts: (a) The maintainence of POWs in the charge of one of the belligerent powers; and (b) Differences in treatment between POWs. The allegation provides no basic facts to show which of the two concepts is the problem, what acts or non-acts constituted the claimed breach of the 1929 Geneva POW convention, specifically when and where it happened, or who was responsible. All we have is the conclusory statement:
This provision was not adhered to in the camps on the Rhine.
There is no source given for the claim and no link to information about it, so the reader (and potential posters) are left guessing what is to be discussed.

User avatar
HaEn
In memoriam
Posts: 1911
Joined: 13 Mar 2002 00:58
Location: Portland OR U.S.A.

Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by HaEn » 13 Jan 2012 19:47

I, for one am familiar with the "camps on the Rhine" although I only spent a short time in one. After our surrender in Veenendaal Netherlands, we were marched off to a "holding pen", at the Rhine. There were no provisions, no shelter,
and we were supposed to fend for ourselves. We survived on whatever we had in our possession, and the few supply wagons that were allowed inside with us.
The camp was no more than a barbed wire rolls bordered area in some farmland, with "out of bounds" signs here and there.
After a short time we were marched off to the Harskamp where most of us could bed down in big horse stables and lie in the straw. More than half "camped out', because there was no room inside, and we dug our own holes in the ground, covered by our Zeltbahn.
As an interpreter, I was told by a Canadian guard that we actually were lucky to have such luxurious quarters. Because "you should see how the others are packed into Rhine Meadows, without anything."
Do some googling and you will find plenty of articles on the "Rhine Lagers". Ordered by General Eisenhower, not Roosevelt. After he was sure Allied P.O.W.'s were safe, when the war was over. He then was free to start his agenda.
Oh those good old days.
HN

JamesL
Member
Posts: 1648
Joined: 28 Oct 2004 00:03
Location: NJ USA

Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by JamesL » 13 Jan 2012 21:38

HaEn - I really look forward to reading your autobiography. But as we discussed last year, we will have to wait another 30 years for them to be published.

To your continued, good health!

David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 23722
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by David Thompson » 13 Jan 2012 22:06

Hi, HaEn -- It's good to hear from you again.

I've read about the "Rhine lagers" but that doesn't make it clear what we're talking about. Hurtig might mean British camps, Canadian camps, French camps, American camps, all camps or some camps, during the whole period of their existence or at some particular time. Nor are there any specific factual claims. I or other posters could guess at his meaning, but perhaps incorrectly, and get a response like “That is not what I meant at all.”

If we have the necessary details from the beginning, the readers don't have to go off on a scavenger hunt to find information which may or may not have anything to do with the point the poster was trying to make.

User avatar
Hurtig
Member
Posts: 37
Joined: 09 Jan 2012 23:11

Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by Hurtig » 13 Jan 2012 23:00

Hi HaEn, thanks for sharing your experiences, it is invaluable.

For the purposes of this discussion I am including a link to the US 106th Infantry Division.
I visted the PWTE Remagen memorial in 2006, where the plaque indicates that there was a huge POW Camp (riesiges kriegsgefagenlager), which was handed over to the French which ties back to the 106th handing over to the 10th French Infantry division.

http://106thinfantry.webs.com/powduty1945.htm

By April of 1945, the Allied Armies had swept across the Rhine, deep into Germany. About 200,000 German prisoners were aready taken, and the number increased day by day. The Ruhr pocket brought in an additional 300,000 men, which had to be processed trough Allied hands. As the German Army surrendered unconditionally on May 7th, thousands of German soldiers were moving towards the west, thereby avoiding capture by the Russian Armies. ETO ComZ (Communications Zone) was facing a problem, as they were not yet ready to house all those POW's.

Meanwhile, when the 106th Division had been pulled of the line mid-March, they had been reorganising, refitting and retraining their troops in France. First at St.-Quentin, later at Rennes. There it recieved two new combat teams, the 3rd and 159th Infantry Regiments and two new FAB, the 401st and 627th.

German POW's lined up before inspection at a TE in Germany 1945 (NARA)

Then the Division got their new task. It would be responsible for guarding and processing German POW's in the area around the Rhine river. This area had been divided into four seperate zones.
From the North at Wesel, there was "Red Area". Then came "White Area" around Koblenz and Bad Elms, where the 106th had their GHQ. "Blue Area" led from Frankfurt to Mannheim. And last but not least, was "Green Area" which streched out to Stuttgart. Each area consisted of three to five camps, known as "Temporary POW Enclosures".

The problem now was not only to guard all these prisoners, they had to be looked after, fed, processed and transported. Fact was that many of these camps were not yet built and the POW's were forced to sleep out under the elements, using no more than a canvas shelter-half for protection. They were living as rats in the dirt. A major problem was the lacking water supply and an abscence of medical treatment. Mass epidemics spread fast under the POW's.

The 106th just had not suffiient men to stand guard. Therefor ComZ quickly organised three new units to attach to the Division. Men from various divisions and units were picked to serve, about 3000 in total, in the new 6950th, 6951st and 6952nd Provisional Guard Battalions. They arrived mid-April and started their task.

Temporary Enclosure A-2 Remagen in April 1945 (US Army Signal Corps)

By early May, the "Red Area" contained 130,000 POW's, "White Area" 250,000, "Blue Area" 150,000 and "Green Area" about 90,000. Prisoners continued to come in at a daily rate and by May 18th there were about 917,217 POW's in the various camps. The supply task was a big issue, but it was handled with the help of local German facilities. The prisoners were working alongside the Engineering Units to construct the atual camps.
The discharge process was speeded up to a rate of about 9000 POW's per day. Many were transported to other zones.

As the summer of 1945 approached the end was in sight. Large amounts of POW's were discharged on a daily basis. Gradually the camps were turned over to other Army units. On July 10th, 1945, the 106th was off PO'W duty. They turned their last prisoners over to the French 10th Infantry.

David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 23722
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by David Thompson » 14 Jan 2012 00:21

Thanks for those details, Hurtig. They give us a lot more to work with.

David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 23722
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by David Thompson » 14 Jan 2012 02:56

For interested readers -- There is a US Army monograph on this subject called "Occupation Forces In Europe Series 1945-1946: Disarmament and Disbandment of the German Armed Forces (1947)," about 100 pages, available in a slow (3-5 minutes) 30 MB download in pdf format at
http://www.history.hqusareur.army.mil/o ... 5-1946.pdf

The text is legible to the naked eye, but the scanner doesn't do well with its carbon-copy sheets, which is why I haven't posted it here for handy reference.

RichTO90
Member
Posts: 4238
Joined: 22 Dec 2003 18:03

Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by RichTO90 » 14 Jan 2012 03:32

David Thompson wrote:For interested readers -- There is a US Army monograph on this subject called "Occupation Forces In Europe Series 1945-1946: Disarmament and Disbandment of the German Armed Forces (1947)," about 100 pages, available in a slow (3-5 minutes) 30 MB download in pdf format at
http://www.history.hqusareur.army.mil/o ... 5-1946.pdf

The text is legible to the naked eye, but the scanner doesn't do well with its carbon-copy sheets, which is why I haven't posted it here for handy reference.
In addition to that David, there is also Earl Ziemke's THE U.S. ARMY IN THE OCCUPATION OF GERMANY 1944-1946 at http://www.history.army.mil/books/wwii/Occ-GY/index.htm , which deals considerably with the problems and their solutions - or non-solutions in some cases. I'm never sure what the posters who hang various quotes from the Geneva Convention up like so much wallpaper expect could have been done? Page 291 alone gives one of the more interesting problems that ETOUSA was presented with.
In the last week of the war, on orders from' Admiral Dönitz, the main objective of the German troops still fighting had been to surrender to the Western Allies, which they had done by the hundreds of thousands. What was left of the German Army Group Vistula after its retreat from the Oder River and Berlin took refuge behind the 21 Army Group and Ninth Army lines. Third Army, in Czechoslovakia, let in 125,000 German troops before the surrender. Austria was jammed with the remnants of the armies that had been on the southern flank of the Eastern Front. Meanwhile, the US troops were rounding up and herding into makeshift cages what was left of the Wehrmacht in southwestern Germany, and Montgomery's armies were acquiring the entire garrisons of Holland, north Germany, and Denmark. When SHAEF G-1 added up the totals, the figures came close to 5 million prisoners of war and disarmed enemy troops in SHAEF custody, well over 3 million of them being held by US forces.

The discrepancy between the numbers of prisoners in US custody and in British custody was a lingering point of contention between the US side of SHAEF and the British War Office. Under the Fifty-fifty Agreement, made in 1944, the British and Americans had each undertaken to assume responsibility for half the prisoners no matter who captured them. After February 1945, the US forces had made the most captures, but the British had refused to take their half, arguing that they did not have places to keep them or men to guard them on the Continent and that moving them to England would arouse public resentment and adversely affect British troop morale. After V-E Day, Eisenhower repeatedly tried to get the British to take at least several hundred thousand prisoners, with remarkable lack of success. When Seventh Army negotiated with the British command in Austria for 9,000 Wehrmacht horses, the British said they would have to send along enough prisoners to care for the horses; they sent 82,000. On 1 June, Eisenhower informed the War Office that the shortage in the British "account" up to then amounted to 25 million prisoner-days' rations and was growing at the rate of 900,000 rations every day.
Cheers!
Richard Anderson
Cracking Hitler's Atlantic Wall: the 1st Assault Brigade Royal Engineers on D-Day
Stackpole Books, 2009.

David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 23722
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by David Thompson » 14 Jan 2012 18:03

Thanks, RichTO90.

User avatar
Hurtig
Member
Posts: 37
Joined: 09 Jan 2012 23:11

Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by Hurtig » 14 Jan 2012 18:32

Hi RichTO90 thanks for you informative link. I have spent quite a bit of time going through it. I must say I am even more concerned now than I was before reading it, but great link.

I found the following concerning (page 86 and 87)
In early August 1944, Secretary of the Treasury Morgenthau, whose overt involvement in occupation planning had for two years been limited to financial matters and the nomination of occasional Treasury officials for civil affairs appointments, made a trip to Europe. He went to observe the effects of the Treasury's financial arrangements for liberated France; but, as he later said, on the flight over he chanced to read a State Department paper dealing with postwar policy for Germany, and he was filled with misgivings.24 In London he talked with the US representatives in the EAC and discussed the SHAEF plans for Germany with Colonel Bernstein, who had gone from the Treasury Department into civil affairs and had been associated with the German Country Unit from its inception. When Morgenthau returned to Washington he brought with him a copy of the German handbook which, with an accompanying list of his criticisms, he passed on to the President and thus, not unwittingly, precipitated the opening thunderclap of a storm in US policy that would be long in passing.

The errant handbook arrived in Stimson's office on the 26th accompanied by a presidential memorandum which began, "This so-called Handbook is pretty bad. I should like to know how it came to be written and who approved it down the line. If it has not been sent out as approved, all copies should be withdrawn and held until you get a chance to go over it." There followed passages from the handbook pertaining to economic rehabilitation that Morgenthau had singled out as particularly objectionable. "It gives the impression," the memorandum continued, "that Germany is to be restored as much as the Netherlands or Belgium, and the people of Germany brought back as quickly to their prewar estate." The President said he had no such intention. It was of "the utmost importance" that every person in Germany should recognize that "this time" Germany was a defeated nation. He did not want them to starve. If they needed food "to keep body and soul together," they could be fed "a bowl of soup" three times a day from Army soup kitchens. (The first version reportedly read, "a bowl of soup per day.") He saw no reason, however, for starting "a WPA, PWA, or CCC for Germany." The German people had to have it driven home to them that "the whole nation has been engaged in a lawless conspiracy against the decencies of modern civilization.25

The President's idea of what the coming defeat would mean for Germany was not very clear. A year hence most Germans would have been happy to have three meals a day from Army soup kitchens, had the Army been able to provide them. In fact, his concept of the German postwar condition was probably no more austere than the authors of the handbook had assumed it would be and vastly brighter than it actually was. Nevertheless, Roosevelt set the whole US occupation policy off on a course that would be difficult to steer and for too long impossible to abandon.
It seems to me that there was intention in everything that was done in Germany.

What troubles me more is the text that follows on to your extract (page 292 and 293)
Food was the problem. Registered prisoners of war were entitled to 2,000 calories a day, and working prisoners, 2,900 calories. The disarmed enemy troops could be given the normal German consumer's ration; therefore, SHAEF had intended to transfer all German troops inside Germany to disarmed enemy status after the surrender, but the legality of this move was in doubt at least until after the Berlin Declaration was signed.62 According to the ECLIPSE plan, the disarmed enemy troops were to be fed, like the DPs, from German sources; but while the DPs were scattered in groups of thousands and could theoretically live off the local economies, the troops were concentrated, sometimes in the hundreds of thousands. On 16 May, Bradley cabled Eisenhower that the Wehrmacht stocks the Seventh Army had been using to feed its disarmed enemy troops would run out that day. In another four days

Seventh Army would have used up all it could get from civilian sources in its area. The other armies could not help because they were in much the same position. "These disarmed forces," he maintained, "will either have to be fed or released." He asked for immediate authority to discharge the disarmed enemy forces and for US Army or military government rations to feed them until the discharge could be completed.63 SHAEF could not authorize a "blanket release" of German forces, Eisenhower replied, because their discharge had to be "strictly controlled in order to prevent widespread disorder, or other conditions which military government agencies will be unable to cope with"; the release of the categories already approved (see below) would "tax the administrative machinery for a considerable time . . . . Until such time as indigenous resources can meet the needs," he concluded, 12th Army Group could use imported military government food for the disarmed forces. Preferably it should use the imported food for feeding the DPs, and the indigenous food could thus be saved for feeding the German troops.64 Imported food, however, was not a real solution either. Brig. Gen. Robert M. Littlejohn, Chief Quartermaster, Communications Zone, pointed out that there was a food shortage in the United States and in the theater. Including the prisoners of war, his ration strength was over 7 million, and he was having to reduce the rations of US officers and enlisted men by ten percent to meet it. Moreover, the War Department had made no provision for clothing and camp equipment for the prisoners. Littlejohn recommended "settling down to 500,000 in three months." 65
I think more could have been done and should have been done. I think that this clearly shows that the DEF designation was a clear breach of the conventions and was intentional. I think that we acted in a way that will be judged badly in the future.

David Thompson
Forum Staff
Posts: 23722
Joined: 20 Jul 2002 19:52
Location: USA

Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by David Thompson » 14 Jan 2012 18:58

For discussions on the "Morgenthau plan," one of a number of competing proposals for the administration of post-war Germany, see:

JCS 1067 and US military government in Germany
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=21690
Adenauer on the Morgenthau Plan and restitution to Jews
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=6067
Morgenthau Plan
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=8517

User avatar
Hurtig
Member
Posts: 37
Joined: 09 Jan 2012 23:11

Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by Hurtig » 14 Jan 2012 19:10

Hi David,

Thanks for the links, some interesting points made on those discussions. What I was trying to do here is show how all these topics are linked. They cannot be seen in complete isolation, as they had a material affect on how officers treated POWs, DEFs and civilians alike.

I am happy if we move the first citation, but I was actually more interested in what Roosevelt said.

Hurtig

Return to “Holocaust & 20th Century War Crimes”