Disarmed Enemy Forces

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Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by David Thompson » 19 Jan 2012 19:35

Well, maybe it's time to start accumulating a factual chronology here. I'll start with the POW food problem.

(A) US troop strength and food supply in Europe.

8 May 1945 – There were 3,069,310 US troops in Europe on V-E Day. (US Army Occupation Forces in Europe 1945-46, part 5, p. 26).

(B) The number of POWs to be fed.

Sept 1944 – There were 554,756 German POWs in AEF (Allied Expeditionary Force) custody. (US Army Occupation Forces in Europe 1945-46, part 5, p. 131).

Dec 1944 – There were 811,796 German POWs in AEF custody. (US Army Occupation Forces in Europe 1945-46, part 5, p. 131).

Feb 1945 – The US and Great Britain had originally agreed to split 50-50 on the care of prisoners taken by the western allies. However, in this month Great Britain informed the US that it could only handle feeding the German POWs it had at that time, and could not provide for any more. The US began feeding all German soldiers subsequently captured out of its own food stocks. On 1 June, Eisenhower informed the (US) 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. (Ziemke, The US Army in the Occupation of Germany 1944-46, p. 291).

8 Mar 1945 – There were 1,000,000 German POWs in AEF custody. (US Army Occupation Forces in Europe 1945-46, part 5, p. 131).

16 Apr 1945 – There were 2,000,000 German POWs in AEF custody. (US Army Occupation Forces in Europe 1945-46, part 5, p. 131). The Rheinwiesenlager camps were set up about this time.

1 May 1945 – There were 3,000,000 German POWs in AEF custody. (US Army Occupation Forces in Europe 1945-46, part 5, p. 131). Note that this is just short of matching the total number of US troops in Europe.

8 May 1945 – There were 4,005,732 prisoners in Allied custody on V-E day. (US Army Occupation Forces in Europe 1945-46: Disarmament and Disbandment of the German Armed Forces, p. 39; US Army Occupation Forces in Europe 1945-46, part 5, p. 132). Note that this is more than the total number of US troops on the continent.

June 1945 – There were 6,155,468 Germans taken in total by the Allied Expeditionary Forces (= 2,150,000 as prisoners after V-E day). (US Army Occupation Forces in Europe 1945-46: Disarmament and Disbandment of the German Armed Forces, pp. 27, 39). Of these, 2,057,138 were classed as POWs and 4,398,030 DEFs [Disarmed Enemy Forces]. ( US Army Occupation Forces in Europe 1945-46: Disarmament and Disbandment of the German Armed Forces, p. 39; US Army Occupation Forces in Europe 1945-46, part 5, p. 132). Note that this is more than twice the number of US troops on the continent.

(C) Additional problems in Germany.

8 May 1945 – There were 5.2 million displaced persons (slave laborers and liberated or escaped POWs) in the western allies' zones on V-E Day of which 4 million were in the US zone; 2 million of these were Soviet nationals. (Ziemke, The US Army in the Occupation of Germany 1944-46, p. 284).

8 May 1945-Sept 1945 – There were an unknown number of German civilian refugees who had fled into the western zones of Germany in order to escape the advancing Soviet troops, or who left the Soviet zone of occupation in eastern Germany and Austria, Poland and Czechoslovakia.

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Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by LWD » 19 Jan 2012 20:10

Thank you for this. I hadn't realized the true scope of the problem before you presented this data.

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Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by Hurtig » 19 Jan 2012 21:37

LWD, thanks for some interesting points.
LWD wrote:I would draw the opposite conclusion. The policies seemed clearly aimed at making sure the maximum number of Germans survived. Of course if you don't find that gaol desireable I can see how you would find the policies lamentable.
The definition of DPs refered to in the extract is used specifically refers to one removed from his or her native country as a refugee, prisoner or a slave laborer. Not German Civilians, who were classed as enemy refugees and displaced persons which is the key point. It is interesting that US policy was clear on who they would care for first (refer below)
LWD wrote:Of course if you don't find that gaol desireable I can see how you would find the policies lamentable.
I don't think that anything I have said could lead you to make a statement of this nature, it is unbecoming and incorrect.
LWD wrote:I would agree that it was due to bad planning, but have also shown how it was part of the Policies for occupied Germany. Please elaborate as to why you think it was not due to the policies.

You are the proponent, you need to make a case for it first. Especially when the policies you quoted mention supplying food at at least a subsistance level.
Here is an extract from CHAPTER VIII THE U.S. ARMY IN THE OCCUPATION OF GERMANY 1944-1946 (page 108)

The directive gave the army group commanders the following seven missions only:

1. Imposition of the will of the Allies upon occupied Germany.
2. Care, control, and repatriation of displaced United Nations nationals and minimum care necessary to control enemy refugees and displaced persons.
3. Apprehension of war criminals.
4. Elimination of nazism-fascism, German militarism, the Nazi hierarchy, and their collaborators.
5. Restoration and maintenance of law and order, as far as the military situation permits.
6. Protection of United Nations property, control of certain properties, and conservation of German foreign exchange assets.
7. Preservation and establishment of suitable administration to the extent required to accomplish the above directives.

Please note point 2 minimum care necessary to control enemy refugees and displaced persons.

Roosevelts statement on the handling of post war Germany is clear
"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

LWD wrote:The were never intended to sustain themselves. They were temporary camps established to a large extent due to the fact that when it came the collapse of the German army was not expected.
CHAPTER XVI - Germany in Defeat (page 292)

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.
LWD wrote:"Should have been" perhaps but as stated the German collapse wasn't exactly predicatable and the western allies in the mean time were struggleing to keep their combat units supplied.
LWD, interesting point, please provide links to this.
LWD wrote:Part of the problem was that the "policies" weren't well established at that point in time. Indeed my impression is that they were in a state of flux for some time after the German surrender. If someone of high enough authority had decides in say March or April that Germans would be fed from US stocks and that enough supplies had to be moved forward to feed them then perhaps they could have fed them to US levels. Of course that wouldn't have taken care of the civilian population in particular the displaced persons (again the number of which was well beyond what was expected). Furthermore the policy of not feeding the DEF's any better than the civilian population of Germany was IMO a good one. I suspect many of the DEF's would have agreed if they had been made aware of it. Note also Bradley's quote suggested releasing them back into the civilian populatioon where they would benefit from this policy.
Some interesting observations. I think the policies were established, but due to the nature of them, they led to serious problems. I don' think the US ever planned to use US supplies for DEF's, they were going to be fed from German sources. I think the possibly underestimated the size of the problem.

David, thanks for the stats

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Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by David Thompson » 20 Jan 2012 00:33

Here are some statistics on food supplies available to the US Army in Europe ("So, how much food did you bring with you?"):

Sept 1944 – The US Army in Europe was authorized to keep 60 days worth of rations ahead of current consumption. (The US Army in WWII: The Quartermaster Corps: operations in the war against Germany, pp. 491). Any changes to the shipping schedule required 90 days to deliver, if the supplies were available. (The US Army in WWII: The Quartermaster Corps: operations in the war against Germany, pp. 491, 497). The actual US Army holdings in Europe were substantially lower than those authorized:

mid-Oct 1944 – Actual food holdings of the AEF were 18.6 days ahead of current consumption. (The US Army in WWII: The Quartermaster Corps: operations in the war against Germany, p. 492).

mid-Nov 1944 -- Actual food holdings of the AEF were 10.6 days ahead of current consumption, plus a 5-day reserve and 7 days rations held by the armies in the field. (The US Army in WWII: The Quartermaster Corps: operations in the war against Germany, p. 492).

early Feb 1945 -- Actual food holdings of the AEF were 38 days ahead of current consumption, plus 5-7 days rations held by the armies in the field. (The US Army in WWII: The Quartermaster Corps: operations in the war against Germany, p. 492).

3 Mar 1945 – The US War Department reduced the AEF food holding allocation to 50 days ahead of current consumption, to include food cargoes in transit being carried on ships in European waters. (The US Army in WWII: The Quartermaster Corps: operations in the war against Germany, p. 492).

21 Apr 1945 – US First Army held 2.3 days rations ahead of current consumption; US Third Army held 4.3 days; US Seventh Army had 4.1 days; US Ninth Army had 4.4 days. (The US Army in WWII: The Quartermaster Corps: operations in the war against Germany, p. 495).

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Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by Hurtig » 20 Jan 2012 01:04

Thanks David --- very interesting stats. Is there any background into their planning assumptions?
It seems they kept on falling further and further behind. Does the report give any reasons to the rapidly depleted food holdings?

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Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by David Thompson » 20 Jan 2012 02:34

Hurtig -- You asked:
It seems they kept on falling further and further behind. Does the report give any reasons to the rapidly depleted food holdings?
Yes. The first problem was having to feed all the prisoners captured after Feb 1945 when the British told the US they could no longer feed more prisoners at the 50-50 rate.

The second problem is that the complicated subject of logistics gets even trickier when an army is advancing rapidly. When that happens, the Army supply priority shifts to ammunition and gasoline ("Go, go, go!"), and the command thought is that as long as the troops have food for 2-4 days in advance, more can be shipped up later. If the troops actually run out of food, it's a crisis, but until they almost do, the advance is the most important thing.

The third problem is that the number of surrendered German soldiers kept increasing logarithmically over a 60-day period, and there was a 90-day delay in getting supplies even after they were ordered. Ordering rations for a million POWs in February and March doesn't turn the trick when you have 2, 3, 4, and 6 million prisoners to feed in April, May and June.

In addition, there are an infinity of complications in logistics ("we've got meat and potatoes, but we're out of coffee," or "all we've got is peanut butter!"). Performance forecasts made by planners rarely come true. You can have the whole thing plotted out on paper, only to have some shipping problem ("the propellor broke and we can't leave port until it's fixed," or "we've got to wait until those destroyer escorts get here or the U-Boats will sink us!") or other snafu throw the whole plan off.

It's a tedious read, but if you want to take a look see the description in the chapter on "Rations," in US Army in WWII - The Quartermaster Corps; operations in the war against Germany (2004), pp. 485-544, available online at
http://www.archive.org/details/quartermastercor00ross . US Army in WWII: Civil Affairs: Soldiers Become Governors, pp. 877-94, is also helpful. Interested readers can see it online at http://www.history.army.mil/books/wwii/civaff/index.htm

From my recent readings on the subject, I've gotten the impression that

(1) the US Army didn't have any idea just how much the German armed forces and civilians wanted to avoid the Soviet Army ("We've only got 3 million guys here and now we've got 6 million prisoners and swarms of refugees!");

(2) no one anticipated such a sudden collapse of German resistance in March and April of 1945;

(3) allied planners thought there would be more food available locally than there was;

(4) allied planners did not understand how devasted Europe had become during the war; and

(5) no one had any idea that the Germans were holding so many slave laborers (6.69 million forced laborers employed by the Nazi state in Jan 1945; see http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 23#p125023). When the war ended these displaced persons formed into roving bands, depredating on the countryside in search of food and revenge.

I'll give more statistics later on what the US Army did to mitigate these problems, but my personal opinion is that the scale of the problems could not have been reasonably anticipated.

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Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by David Thompson » 20 Jan 2012 17:13

Here are some more statistics -- hopefully the last of them.

Handling of the POW problem.

To deal with the problem of an unexpectedly large number of surrendered members of the German armed forces, the US Army started discharging them from custody, since the 1929 Geneva POW convention does not oblige signatories to feed persons who are no longer prisoners. (Art. 4. "The detaining Power is required to provide for the maintenance of prisoners of war in its charge. . . .")

This is the part you never see discussed in the "Disarmed Enemy Forces" diatribes -- the number of persons actually affected by the category, and how long they were held in custody under it. The usual treatment in these diatribes looks something like this: "Rather than adhere to the Geneva Convention of 1929, it was decided to treat the prisoners as "Disarmed Enemy Forces (DEF)". As captured former soldiers of a state that no longer existed, they could be denied the rights of prisoners of war guaranteed by the Geneva Convention. Over 4 million surrendered German soldiers were classed as DEFs. The US released the last German prisoners of war in 1947," leaving the reader with the impression that the problem was widespread, unrelated to any real emergency, and lasted for several years instead of several months.

early May 1945 – Rations of German POWs and discharged enemy forces reduced from 2,700 calories/day (the wartime German soldier's rations) to 2,000 calories/day. (US Army in WWII - The Quartermaster Corps; operations in the war against Germany, p. 534).

15 May 1945 -- Supreme Headquarters gave authority to discharge certain categories of prisoners of war and members of the disarmed enemy forces. Those to be discharged first were all men of German nationality who were agricultural workers, coal miners, transport workers, and other urgently needed workers provided that they lived in the area in which they were imprisoned and were not war criminals, security suspects, or members of the SS. All women members of the German armed forces were also to be promptly discharged, provided that they lived in the area in which they were imprisoned and were not war criminals, security suspects, or members of the SS. (US Army Occupation Forces in Europe 1945-46, part 5, p. 132).

18 May 1945 – Supreme Headquarters gave authority to discharge all prisoners of war over fifty years of age, provided that they lived in the area in which they were imprisoned and were not war criminals, security suspects, or members of the SS. (US Army Occupation Forces in Europe 1945-46, part 5, pp. 132-33).

5 Jun 1945 – Nationals of France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg who were prisoners of war or in the status of disarmed enemy forces and not wanted for war crimes by a country other than their own were released to their respective governments. (US Army Occupation Forces in Europe 1945-46, part 5, p. 133).

30 Jun -- General discharge was authorized for all Germans except war criminals, security suspects, the large number in automatic arrest categories, and those whose homes were in the Soviet zone. Of these exceptions, the last were held pending an agreement with the Soviet Union on their transfer; the others were discharged on condition that they be held as civilian internees for trial or other disposition. (US Army Occupation of Germany 1945-53, p. 90).

Jul 1945 -- authority was given to release to their governments all non-Germans who were not security suspects or wanted as war criminals by a country other than their own, with the exception of Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, and Poles not claiming Soviet citizenship, and dissident Yugoslav and neutral nationals with ardent Axis sympathies. (US Army Occupation Forces in Europe 1945-46, part 5, p. 133).

mid-August 1945 -- 732,000 POW's and 588,000 disarmed Germans were held by US armed forces in Germany. Both received the POW ration. (US Army in WWII - The Quartermaster Corps; operations in the war against Germany, p. 534).

Sept 1945 – Rheinwiesenlager camps closed. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rheinwiesenlager)

Oct 1945 -- Prisoners of war and disarmed enemy forces of all services in the custody of the United States in October numbered 1,474,074. Of these, 3,243 were in the Bremen enclave, 157,000 in Italy, 609,948 in Theater Service Forces, 355,351 in the Zone of Interior, and the remainder -- 348,532 -- in the United States zone of Germany. (US Army Occupation Forces in Europe 1945-46: Disarmament and Disbandment of the German Armed Forces, pp. 45-46).

Nov 1945 -- The US had 1,007,807 prisoners in custody in Europe in Nov 1945 – 81,823 in hospitals, 400,615 in camps and 525,369 in work programs. (US Army Occupation Forces in Europe 1945-46: Disarmament and Disbandment of the German Armed Forces, p. 32).

15 Jul 1946 – US held 206,657 POWs in Europe. (US Army Occupation of Germany 1945-53, p. 90).

Deaths in the Rheinwiesenlagers.

Reports from field observers confirmed that 2,000 calories were sufficient to maintain the condition of a healthy prisoner whose routine was limited to self-care, but the surveys showed that a majority of prisoners were suffering from various dietary deficiencies when captured. In the months before the final surrender the German army ration was very low in riboflavin and nicotinic acid, and in the last weeks all food supplies had dwindled. It had proved impossible to make good these deficiencies in the temporary enclosures where ADSEC units attempted to feed hundreds of thousands of prisoners, mainly on captured supplies and using rudimentary kitchen equipment. The same surveys showed that in the processes of distribution, breakdown, and food preparation, losses reduced a 2,000 calorie menu to an actual diet of about 1,750 calories. All these factors had led to serious undernourishment, and the official ration was immediately raised to 2,250 calories for nonworking prisoners and 2,900 for those who were working. Serious cases of malnutrition were hospitalized and placed on the menu for nonworking prisoners plus a 1,100 calorie hospital supplement. Less serious cases received the ration for workers for twenty days before actually being assigned to work details. (US Army in WWII - The Quartermaster Corps; operations in the war against Germany, pp. 535-36).

The Displaced Persons problem.

15 Jun -- French, Belgian, and Luxemburger DPs substantially repatriated. (US Army Occupation of Germany 1945-53, p. 75).

1 Sept – 99% of the 2,034,000 Soviet DPs repatriated. (US Army Occupation of Germany 1945-53, pp. 75-6).

1 Sept – 450,000 assorted DPs received from Soviets. (US Army Occupation of Germany 1945-53, p. 76).

21 Sept 1945 – DPs waiting for repatriation from the western zones = 910,000 Poles, 40,000 Italians, 4,400 Greeks, 135,000 Hungarians, 34,000 Romanians. All French, Belgian, Luxemburgers, Dutch, Norwegian, Danish, Czech, Soviet and Yugoslav nationals had been repatriated. (FRUS 1945 vol. 2, p. 1192).

30 Sept – 97% of Italian DPs repatriated. (US Army Occupation of Germany 1945-53, p. 75).

31 Oct 1945 – 474,000 DPs still remaining in US zone; 224,000 of them non-repatriable. (US Army Occupation of Germany 1945-53, p. 75).

The Refugee Problem.

20 Sept – 400,000-500,000 Czech Germans had fled into Germany. (FRUS [Foreign Relations of the United States] 1945 vol. 2, pp. 1277-78).

I still haven't found any official figures on the overall extent of the German civilian refugee problem in this timeframe.

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Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by Hurtig » 22 Jan 2012 01:52

David -- Thanks for the interesting stats and information. I have been reading through some of the docs you linked and wanted to add a bit more infomation regarding the topic.
David Thompson wrote:To deal with the problem of an unexpectedly large number of surrendered members of the German armed forces, the US Army started discharging them from custody, since the 1929 Geneva POW convention does not oblige signatories to feed persons who are no longer prisoners.
I agree that certian catagories of US held German prisoners were released, but sadly 1,600,000 US prisoners were transferred "discharged?" to French and Belgian Governments. (The Quartermaster Corps; Operations in the war against Germany (2004), pp. 485-544)
I believe they were handed over to the French and Beligian governments for forced labour (slave labour?). I believe that ill-treatment or deportation to slave labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war, war deemed a war crime at Nurenburg?
David Thompson wrote:This is the part you never see discussed in the "Disarmed Enemy Forces" diatribes -- the number of persons actually affected by the category, and how long they were held in custody under it.
I believe that your posts have highlighted some of the numbers and made it clearer to the readers.

I have taken some of the points from previous posts and expanded on them directly from The Quartermaster Corps; Operations in the war against Germany (2004), pp. 485-544

The difficulties are well illustrated by the experience of the ADSEC quartermaster, whose responsibility for feeding POW's increased from 150,000 to 1,500,000 in less than a week. Under such circumstances, a theater level of supply is only meaningful if the rations for the combat troops are rigidly segregated from those of prisoners and the civilian population, and that was not done. On the contrary, 50 percent of recovered Allied prisoners received the A ration, and after the end of hostilities all U.S. troops accepted a 10 percent reduction in their rations for the benefit of the civilian population of Europe."The problem of feeding POW's proved to be not only larger in scope but also more complex than that of feeding Allied nationals. Plans before D-day had anticipated that some 60,000 prisoners would be captured by D plus 90, and that all of them would be evacuated to England as soon as possible. No provision for their support had been made beyond three and a half C rations per prisoner a suitable type and allowance for men in transit to the United Kingdom. Actually, more than 170,000 men had been captured by early September, and since it was decided to hold most of them on the Continent as laborers, the burden of feeding them fell on COMZ.

Inevitably, with the improvement of the tactical situation and the increasing influx of prisoners, a shortage of POW rations developed. By the end of November, almost 200,000 POW's had to be fed; by the beginning of March 1945, over 300,000; by the end of March, almost 600,000; a month later, more than 1,500,000; and almost another million surrendered in the next three weeks."

With such numbers involved, it became impossible to evacuate them to the rear as fast as they surrendered, and large numbers became responsibilities of ADSEC in the area immediately west of the Rhine. In April that headquarters established large depots solely for POW supplies at Rheinberg (near Duisburg) , Sinzig, and Bingen, under control of the 56th QM Base Depot. Sixteen POW camps in those areas had to be supplied largely by collecting captured supplies from the armies and by local procurement, since few U.S. supplies for prisoners arrived during the speedy occupation of Germany.

Military bakeries were not available, and local bakers contracted to provide nearly 400,000 pounds of bread per day for 782,000 prisoners in mid-May. At the same time Normandy Base Section was guarding 406,000 prisoners and Oise Section 262,000. The total number in U.S. custody on 20 May was 2,884,762, or about 460,000 more than were receiving U.S. rations. During the months that followed the French and Belgian Governments agreed to accept about 1,600,000 prisoners.

Supply officers hoped that such persons, classified as Disarmed Enemy Forces, could be fed by the German regional governments responsible for their security. This hope was only partially realized, and in mid-August 732,000 POW's and 588,000 disarmed Germans were still dependent upon the Quartermaster Service.

The terms of the Geneva Convention provided that prisoners would be fed a type A ration equal in quantity and quality to that of custodial troops in base camps, but it soon became apparent that this allowance could not be provided. When reports were received that American prisoners in German camps were suffering from malnutrition and that the average ration in the German Army approximated 2,700 calories, the OCQM decided that there was no justification for providing the German soldier with a ration increase of 25 percent merely because he had achieved prisoner of war status. General Littlejohn contended, in fact, that it would be wasteful to feed an American ration of 3,700 to 4,000 calories to prisoners who were accustomed to less than American soldiers.

Reports from field observers confirmed that 2,000 calories were sufficient to maintain the condition of a healthy prisoner whose routine was limited to selfcare, but the surveys showed that a majority of prisoners were suffering from various dietary deficiencies when captured. In the months before the final surrender the German army ration was very low in riboflavin and nicotinic acid, and in the last weeks all food supplies had dwindled. It had proved impossible to make good these deficiencies in the temporary enclosures where ADSEC units attempted to feed hundreds of thousands of prisoners, mainly on captured supplies and using rudimentary kitchen equipment. The same surveys showed that in the processes of distribution, breakdown, and food preparation, losses reduced a 2,000 calorie menu to an actual diet of about 1,750 calories. All these factors had led to serious under-nourishment, and the official ration was immediately raised to 2,250 calories for nonworking prisoners and 2,900 for those who were working. Serious cases of malnutrition were hospitalized and placed on the menu for nonworking prisoners plus a 1,100 calorie hospital supplement. Less serious cases received the ration for workers for twenty days before actually being assigned to work details.

Unfortunately, it was not possible to extend these policies to cover the prisoners who had been transferred to other nations. Civil Affairs officials held, with apparent justice, that the rations of prisoners should not exceed those of civilian refugees. This argument ignored the fact that the ration of a captured soldier comprised all the food that he would receive, whereas the ration of a civilian usually meant his official allowance issued against his ration card. It did not include food obtained from relatives in the country, from the black market, or issued as a bonus by his employer.

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Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by David Thompson » 22 Jan 2012 04:14

Hurtig -- You wrote:
I agree that certian catagories of US held German prisoners were released, but sadly 1,600,000 US prisoners were transferred "discharged?" to French and Belgian Governments. (The Quartermaster Corps; Operations in the war against Germany (2004), pp. 485-544)
I believe they were handed over to the French and Beligian governments for forced labour (slave labour?). I believe that ill-treatment or deportation to slave labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war, war deemed a war crime at Nurenburg?
Military prisoners aren't the same as civilians, so pleased don't get them confused. Military prisoners can be used for involuntary labor and the 1929 Geneva POW convention expressly provided for it. See Section III (Articles 27-34) of the convention at http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/full/305?opendocument. The practice is still legal -- see the 1949 Geneva III POW convention, Section III (Articles 49-57) at http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/FULL/375?OpenDocument.

For interested readers -- for WWII-era offenses against civilian populations, see "Crimes of the Occupier" at http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=177373

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Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by Hurtig » 22 Jan 2012 19:51

David Thompson wrote:Military prisoners aren't the same as civilians, so pleased don't get them confused. Military prisoners can be used for involuntary labor and the 1929 Geneva POW convention expressly provided for it. See Section III (Articles 27-34) of the convention at http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/full/305?opendocument. The practice is still legal -- see the 1949 Geneva III POW convention, Section III (Articles 49-57) at http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/FULL/375?OpenDocument.
I am not getting them confused at all. Surrendered German soldiers that were classified as Disarmed Enemy Forces to prevent categorization of POW under the 1929 Geneva Convention, were no longer subject to the convention at all. They were no longer military prisoners of war, as classified by the geneva convention, therefore section III is not legal, and they should not be used for forced labour "slave labour". The practice is only legal if the conventions are adhered to, which in this case they were NOT, for whatever reasons.

The Geneva Convention was amended. Articles 6 and 7 of the Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, Geneva July 27, 1929, had covered what may and may not be done to a prisoner on capture. The wording of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention was intentionally altered from that of the 1929 convention so that soldiers who "fall into the power" following surrender or mass capitulation of an enemy are now protected as well as those captured in the course of fighting (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disarmed_Enemy_Forces)

Convention (III) relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War. Geneva, 12 August 1949.
(http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/FULL/375?OpenDocument)

The present Convention replaced the Prisoners of War Convention of 1929. It contains 143 Articles whereas the 1929 Convention had only 97. It became necessary to revise the 1929 Convention on a number of points owing to the changes that had occurred in the conduct of warfare and the consequences thereof, as well as in the living condition of peoples. Experience had shown that the daily life of prisoners depended specifically on the interpretation given to the general regulations. Consequently, certain regulations were given a more explicit form which was lacking in the preceding provisions. Since the text of the Convention is to be posted in all prisoner of war camps (see Article 41) it has to be comprehensible not only to the authorities but also to the ordinary reader at any time. The categories of persons entitled to prisoner of war status were broadened in accordance with Conventions I and II. The conditions and places of captivity were more precisely defined, in particular with regard to the labour of prisoners of war, their financial resources, the relief they receive and the judicial proceedings instituted against them. The Convention establishes the principle that prisoners of war shall be released and repatriated without delay after the cessation of active hostilities (Article 118)

Art 5. The present Convention shall apply to the persons referred to in Article 4 from the time they fall into the power of the enemy and until their final release and repatriation.

Should any doubt arise as to whether persons, having committed a belligerent act and having fallen into the hands of the enemy, belong to any of the categories enumerated in Article 4, such persons shall enjoy the protection of the present Convention until such time as their status has been determined by a competent tribunal.

Art 6. In addition to the agreements expressly provided for in Articles 10, 23, 28, 33, 60, 65, 66, 67, 72, 73, 75, 109, 110, 118, 119, 122 and 132, the High Contracting Parties may conclude other special agreements for all matters concerning which they may deem it suitable to make separate provision. No special agreement shall adversely affect the situation of prisoners of war, as defined by the present Convention, nor restrict the rights which it confers upon them.

Prisoners of war shall continue to have the benefit of such agreements as long as the Convention is applicable to them, except where express provisions to the contrary are contained in the aforesaid or in subsequent agreements, or where more favourable measures have been taken with regard to them by one or other of the Parties to the conflict.

Art 7. Prisoners of war may in no circumstances renounce in part or in entirety the rights secured to them by the present Convention, and by the special agreements referred to in the foregoing Article, if such there be.

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Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by David Thompson » 22 Jan 2012 21:13

Hurtig -- You wrote:
I am not getting them confused at all. Surrendered German soldiers that were classified as Disarmed Enemy Forces to prevent categorization of POW under the 1929 Geneva Convention, were no longer subject to the convention at all. They were no longer military prisoners of war, as classified by the geneva convention, therefore section III is not legal, and they should not be used for forced labour "slave labour".
If you're not getting the categories confused, what is the meaning of this:
I believe that ill-treatment or deportation to slave labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war, war deemed a war crime at Nurenburg?
You're compounding two separate and different types of crimes in that sentence. The first type -- the mistreatment of civilians of occupied territories -- has nothing to do with this thread topic, and involves violations of the 1899 Hague II and 1907 Hague IV conventions, as well as pre-existing customs of land warfare, by the occupying power. The other has to do with murder and ill-treatment of POWs, which involves violations of the 1929 Geneva POW convention.

It seems to me that the unstated assumption of your subsequent response is that if a soldier who surrenders after the end of hostilities isn't a prisoner of war, he must be a civilian. I don't think this is accurate, so if this is what you're trying to imply, I'd like to see some authority for the proposition. If instead, your suggestion is that international law or military custom in the WWII era prohibited the use of military prisoners -- whether POWs or disarmed enemy forces or some other category -- for involuntary labor, I'd like to see some authority for that proposition as well.

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Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by Hurtig » 22 Jan 2012 22:52

David Thompson wrote:If you're not getting the categories confused, what is the meaning of this:
Daivid -- The catogorization is from the Nuremburg Trials - Charter of the International Military Tribunal

ARTICLE 6

(b) War Crimes: namely, violations of the laws or customs of war. Such violations shall include, but not be limited to, murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war or persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity;
David Thompson wrote:It seems to me that the unstated assumption of your subsequent response is that if a soldier who surrenders after the end of hostilities isn't a prisoner of war, he must be a civilian. I don't think this is accurate, so if this is what you're trying to imply, I'd like to see some authority for the proposition.


If you do not think it is accurate, please provide reasons as to why not. There had been no precedent before Germany defeated Poland in 1939, and Yugoslavia two years later, many troops from those nations were "released" from POW status and turned into a "virtual conscript labor force". The US removed the designation of prisoner of war and replaced it with Disarmed Enemy Forces - the legal reason was to remove their rights.
David Thompson wrote:If instead, your suggestion is that international law or military custom in the WWII era prohibited the use of military prisoners -- whether POWs or disarmed enemy forces or some other category -- for involuntary labor, I'd like to see some authority for that proposition as well.
Actually you stated the follwoing:
David Thompson wrote:Military prisoners aren't the same as civilians, so pleased don't get them confused. Military prisoners can be used for involuntary labor and the 1929 Geneva POW convention expressly provided for it. See Section III (Articles 27-34) of the convention
I am afraid you cannot have it both ways, you refered to the 1929 Geneva POW convention. refers to WORK OF PRISONERS OF WAR. The Germans termed Disarmed Enemy Forces were no longer POWs as refered to in the 1929 Geneva POW convention. The rights of the 1929 Geneva POW convention were withheld from them. The only logical deduction that can be made by the designation given to them is civilian prisoners or other classification that falls outside of the Geneva or Hague conventions. The reasons for the new disignation were clear and largely due to the refusal of the Soviet Union to sign the Geneva convention and their requirment for laborers. I do not actually believe that the US wanted to break away from the conventions, but were forced to by the Soviet Union and the agreements made at the Tehran Conference.

Several factors went into this consideration, including that the EAC member the Soviet Union refused to sign the Geneva Conventions, despite intense pressure from 1942 onward to sign the document.[33] Behind the Soviets' refusal were a number of considerations closely linked with the regime, but a major consideration that emerged at the Tehran Conference was that Soviet leader Joseph Stalin desired four million German laborers for an "indefinite period", perhaps for life.[33]
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disarmed_Enemy_Forces) Early considerations of DEF designations.

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Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by David Thompson » 23 Jan 2012 04:00

Hurtig – You wrote: (1)
Daivid -- The catogorization is from the Nuremburg Trials - Charter of the International Military Tribunal
Yes, and the IMT charter clearly defines them as crimes, in the plural, and distinguishes between them as different kinds of crimes. Your sentence, on the other hand:
I believe that ill-treatment or deportation to slave labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war, war deemed a war crime at Nurenburg?
uses the expression "a war crime," in the singular, not the plural, and unlike the IMT charter, you did not distinguish them as separate crimes at all. Furthermore, your subsequent response makes it clear that you made and make no distinction between non-POW military prisoners and civilians.

(2)
David Thompson wrote:It seems to me that the unstated assumption of your subsequent response is that if a soldier who surrenders after the end of hostilities isn't a prisoner of war, he must be a civilian. I don't think this is accurate, so if this is what you're trying to imply, I'd like to see some authority for the proposition.


If you do not think it is accurate, please provide reasons as to why not.
Because, as you can see from reading the treaties, the laws of war during WWII only related to the rights and responsibilities of military combatants during hostilities between states. The status of persons outside the class of military combatants during hostilities between states is left undefined.

That doesn't mean that non-prisoners of war are civilians. The term "civilian" refers to "one whose pursuits are those of civil life, not military, naval nor clerical" (Webster's International Dictionary of the English Language); "a person engaged in civil pursuits, as distinguished from a soldier, sailor, etc." (Random House Dictionary of the English Language [Unabridged]); "a private citizen, as distinguished from such as belong to the Army, Navy or (in England) the church." (Black's Law Dictionary).

(3)
David Thompson wrote:If instead, your suggestion is that international law or military custom in the WWII era prohibited the use of military prisoners -- whether POWs or disarmed enemy forces or some other category -- for involuntary labor, I'd like to see some authority for that proposition as well.
Actually you stated the follwoing:
David Thompson wrote:Military prisoners aren't the same as civilians, so pleased don't get them confused. Military prisoners can be used for involuntary labor and the 1929 Geneva POW convention expressly provided for it. See Section III (Articles 27-34) of the convention
I am afraid you cannot have it both ways, you refered to the 1929 Geneva POW convention. refers to WORK OF PRISONERS OF WAR.
What I stated is there for all to see. What I asked, however, was if you were claiming that international law or military custom in the WWII era prohibited the use of military prisoners, whether they were prisoners of war (POWs) or not. You didn't answer that question.

As for your reply, it assumes that some or all of the transferred prisoners were classed as disarmed enemy forces (DEFs) rather than prisoners of war (POWs).

(a) So far, we don't know whether the prisoner transfers to France and Belgium involved actual DEFs, as opposed to POWs. To the extent that the transfer involved POWs, of course, they could be made to work under the 1929 Geneva POW convention.

(b) If the prisoners transferred to the custody of France and Belgium were disarmed enemy forces (DEFs), we don't know whether the transfer agreements required that they be reclassified as POWs before custody changed. If so, as POWs they could be made to work under the 1929 Geneva POW convention.

(c) Assuming that the transferred prisoners were DEFs and they stayed that way, so what? Even if the DEFs were civilians, which they weren't, both the 1899 Hague II and the 1907 Hague IV convention permitted the requisition of civilian labor ("services"). See Article 52 of the Annex of Hague II at http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/FULL/150?OpenDocument and of Hague IV at http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/FULL/195?OpenDocument

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Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by Hurtig » 23 Jan 2012 16:46

David -- Thanks it is an interesting discussion. Your point 1 was a typo incorrect paste, which I corrected in the subsequant post. I think you playing on plural etc adds no value to this discussion.
David Thompson wrote:Because, as you can see from reading the treaties, the laws of war during WWII only related to the rights and responsibilities of military combatants during hostilities between states. The status of persons outside the class of military combatants during hostilities between states is left undefined.
The treaties are for countries at war. As of the 7 May 1945, with the unconditional surrender of German forces, these treaties are in question, I say in question as the US only declared cessation of hostilities between the United States and Germany on December 13, 1946. At he time of signing of the unconditional surrender, the Dönitz government (Flensburg government) was in power, but Eisenhower ordered it dissolved, and it was on May 23 1945.

Hague II
Art. 52. Neither requisitions in kind nor services can be demanded from communes or inhabitants except for the necessities of the army of occupation. They must be in proportion to the resources of the country, and of such a nature as not to involve the population in the obligation of taking part in military operations against their country.
These requisitions and services shall only be demanded on the authority of the commander in the locality occupied.
The contributions in kind shall, as far as possible, be paid for in ready money; if not, their receipt shall be acknowledged.

Hague IV
Art. 52. Requisitions in kind and services shall not be demanded from municipalities or inhabitants except for the needs of the army of occupation. They shall be in proportion to the resources of the country, and of such a nature as not to involve the inhabitants in the obligation of taking part in military operations against their own country.
Such requisitions and services shall only be demanded on the authority of the commander in the locality occupied.
Contributions in kind shall as far is possible be paid for in cash; if not, a receipt shall be given and the payment of the amount due shall be made as soon as possible.

These 2 conventions include the follwoing:

Hague II
Art. 20. After the conclusion of peace, the repatriation of prisoners of war shall take place as speedily as possible.

Hague IV
Art. 20. After the conclusion of peace, the repatriation of prisoners of war shall be carried out as quickly as possible.
David Thompson wrote:What I stated is there for all to see. What I asked, however, was if you were claiming that international law or military custom in the WWII era prohibited the use of military prisoners, whether they were prisoners of war (POWs) or not. You didn't answer that question.
1. As stated in my previous post "There had been no precedent before Germany defeated Poland in 1939, and Yugoslavia two years later, many troops from those nations were "released" from POW status and turned into a "virtual conscript labor force". The US removed the designation of prisoner of war and replaced it with Disarmed Enemy Forces - the legal reason was to remove their rights." There was no international law surrounding POWs who were legally termed Disarmed enemy forces. The reason the Hague conventions and the Geneva conventions were put in place was to ensure the rights of Prisoners Of War, by removing that designation, they had no rights. Therefore you cannot use references to the Hague or Geneva conventions to justify the use of DEFs for work.

2. In April the War Department approved treating all members of the German armed forces captured after the declaration of ECLIPSE conditions, or the cessation of hostilities, and all prisoners of war not evacuated from Germany immediately after the conclusion of hostilities, as 'disarmed enemy forces', and specified that such captives would be responsible for feeding and maintaining themselves. This ruling did not apply to war criminals, wanted individuals, and security suspects, who were to be imprisoned, fed, and controlled by Allied forces. The War Department further directed that there be no public declaration made on the status of the German armed forces. (Smith p. 93)

3. If the US had adhered to the Hague and Geneva conventions, as it did for any German soldiers captured before the end of hostilities and were not located on German soil, it had the right under the Geneva convention to use them for forced labour, as it did in the US for farmning. These prisoners had all the rights of the conventions, the DEFs did not.
David Thompson wrote:As for your reply, it assumes that some or all of the transferred prisoners were classed as disarmed enemy forces (DEFs) rather than prisoners of war (POWs).

(a) So far, we don't know whether the prisoner transfers to France and Belgium involved actual DEFs, as opposed to POWs. To the extent that the transfer involved POWs, of course, they could be made to work under the 1929 Geneva POW convention.
(A) The total number in U.S. custody on 20 May was 2,884,762, or about 460,000 more than were receiving U.S. rations. During the months that followed the French and Belgian Governments agreed to accept about 1,600,000 prisoners.The Quartermaster Corps; Operations in the war against Germany (2004), pp. 485-544. The assumption can only be made that they were from the DEFs. The majority of US POWs in the USA had not been brought back to Europe yet as they were helping with the harvests.

Judge Robert H. Jackson, Chief US prosecutor in the Nuremberg trials in a letter discussing the potential weaknesses of the trial, in October 1945 told US President Harry S. Truman that the Allies themselves:

"have done or are doing some of the very things we are prosecuting the Germans for. The French are so violating the Geneva Convention in the treatment of prisoners of war that our command is taking back prisoners sent to them. We are prosecuting plunder and our Allies are practicing it. We say aggressive war is a crime and one of our allies asserts sovereignty over the Baltic States based on no title except conquest."[39][40]
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forced_lab ... rld_War_II)
David Thompson wrote:(b) If the prisoners transferred to the custody of France and Belgium were disarmed enemy forces (DEFs), we don't know whether the transfer agreements required that they be reclassified as POWs before custody changed. If so, as POWs they could be made to work under the 1929 Geneva POW convention.
(B)I have not been able to find any reference to them being reclassified as POWs, I have seen that the US took 200,000 back, as they had been so badly treated. As an example, they were used to disarm minefields which is against the Geneva convention.

Art. 32. It is forbidden to employ prisoners of war on unhealthy or dangerous work. Conditions of work shall not be rendered more arduous by disciplinary measures.
David Thompson wrote:(c) Assuming that the transferred prisoners were DEFs and they stayed that way, so what? Even if the DEFs were civilians, which they weren't, both the 1899 Hague II and the 1907 Hague IV convention permitted the requisition of civilian labor ("services"). See Article 52 of the Annex of Hague II at http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/FULL/150?OpenDocument and of Hague IV at http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/FULL/195?OpenDocument
(C) Firstly what were DEFs? They had no rights under any of the conventions.
The second part of the question relates back to the end of hostilities, if it was 7 May 1945, then it was not legal under any of the conventions. If it was only December 13, 1946 then civilian labour was ok, however even then, the convention was broken as a "contributions in kind shall as far is possible be paid for in cash; if not, a receipt shall be given and the payment of the amount due shall be made as soon as possible". were never made.

"Compensation to German prisoners of war used as forced labor after the war is according to the office of public administration (part of Federal Ministry of the Interior) not possible to claim in Germany, the possibility was removed by the statute of limitations already on September 29, 1978.[38]"
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Forced_lab ... rld_War_II)

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Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by David Thompson » 24 Jan 2012 00:23

Hurtig – You wrote: (1)
There was no international law surrounding POWs who were legally termed Disarmed enemy forces. The reason the Hague conventions and the Geneva conventions were put in place was to ensure the rights of Prisoners Of War, by removing that designation, they had no rights.
You are mistaken in claiming that "they had no rights." You've overlooked or ignored the customs and usages of war regarding the treatment of prisoners, which predate both the Hague and Geneva conventions and were/ are binding on all civilized nations. From the 1940 US manual FM 27-10 Rules of Land Warfare, pp. 1-2:
CHAPTER 1

BASIC RULES AND PRINCIPLES


1. General. - Among civilized nations the conduct of war is regulated by certain well-established rules known as the rules or laws of war. These rules cover and regulate warfare both on land and sea. Those which pertain particularly to war on land are called the rules of land warfare. It is the latter with which this manual is concerned.

2. Written rules. - Many of the rules of war have been set forth in treaties or conventions to which the United States and other nations are parties. These are commonly called the written rules or laws of war.

3. Unwritten rules. - Some of the rules of war have never yet been incorporated in any treaty or convention to which the United States is signatory. These are commonly called the unwritten rules or laws of war, although they are well defined by recognized authorities on international law and well established by the custom and usage of civilized nations.

4. Basic principles. - Among the so-called unwritten rules or laws of war are three interdependent basic principles that underlie all of the other rules or laws of civilized warfare, both written and unwritten, and form the general guide for conduct where no more specific rule applies, to wit :

a. The principle of military necessity, under which, subject to the principles of humanity and chivalry, a belligerent is justified in applying any amount and any kind of force to compel the complete submission of the enemy, with the least possible expenditure of time, life, and money ;

b. The principle of humanity, prohibiting employment of any such kind or degree of violence as is not actually necessary for the purpose of the war ; and

c. The principle of chivalry, which denounces and forbids resort to dishonorable means, expedients, or conduct.

5. Force of rules. - a. The unwritten rules are binding upon all civilized nations. They will be strictly observed by our forces, subject only to such exceptions as shall have been directed by competent authority by way of legitimate reprisals for illegal conduct of the enemy. (See par. 358.)

b. Technically each of the written rules is binding only between powers that have ratified or adhered to, and have not thereafter denounced (withdrawn from), the treaty or convention by which the rule is prescribed, and is binding only to the extent permitted by the reservations, if any, that have accompanied such ratification or adherence on either side. However, the written rules herein quoted in bold-faced type are all prescribed by treaties or conventions each of which has been ratified without reservation, and not thus far denounced, by the United States and many other nations. They are in large part but formal and specific applications of general principles of the unwritten rules. While solemnly obligatory as between the signatory powers, they may be said also to represent the consensus of modern international public opinion as to how belligerents and neutrals should conduct themselves in the particulars indicated. As a general rule they will be strictly observed and enforced by United States forces in the field, as far as applicable there, without regard to whether they are legally binding upon all of the powers immediately concerned. It is the responsibility of higher authority, as occasions arise, to determine and to instruct the commander in the field, which, if any, of the written rules herein quoted are not legally binding as between the United States and each of the other powers immediately concerned, and which, if any, for that reason are not for the time being to be observed or enforced.
(2)
David Thompson wrote:As for your reply, it assumes that some or all of the transferred prisoners were classed as disarmed enemy forces (DEFs) rather than prisoners of war (POWs).

(a) So far, we don't know whether the prisoner transfers to France and Belgium involved actual DEFs, as opposed to POWs. To the extent that the transfer involved POWs, of course, they could be made to work under the 1929 Geneva POW convention.
The total number in U.S. custody on 20 May was 2,884,762, or about 460,000 more than were receiving U.S. rations. During the months that followed the French and Belgian Governments agreed to accept about 1,600,000 prisoners.The Quartermaster Corps; Operations in the war against Germany (2004), pp. 485-544. The assumption can only be made that they were from the DEFs.

The quote from The Quartermaster Corps; Operations in the war against Germany (2004), which appears on p. 532, refers to POWs. There's not a word about disarmed enemy forces in the whole paragraph.

(3)
David Thompson wrote:(b) If the prisoners transferred to the custody of France and Belgium were disarmed enemy forces (DEFs), we don't know whether the transfer agreements required that they be reclassified as POWs before custody changed. If so, as POWs they could be made to work under the 1929 Geneva POW convention.
(B)I have not been able to find any reference to them being reclassified as POWs, I have seen that the US took 200,000 back, as they had been so badly treated.

See item 2(a) of the transfer agreement between the US and France, from http://home.arcor.de/kriegsgefangene/usa/france/01.html:
2. Basic Agreement. The French provisional government has accepted the following conditions:

a. That in the treatment of prisoners of war transferred to its custody, the French government will observe in all respects the provisions of the Geneva Convention relative to the treatment of prisoners of war.
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