The Stalag system

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David Baker
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The Stalag system

Postby David Baker » 9 years 11 months ago (Wed Aug 11, 2010 9:38 am)

If any one aspect of World War Two Germany defines the general conditions for enemy soldiers, it would be the Stalag system. What information is available about POW camps is provided by former inmates, who clearly describe the German's adherence to Geneva Convention protocols. Though many of the American and British POWs were crews of bombers, whose campaigns to destroy Germany's infrastructure had devastated their cities and transportation systems, German camp commanders still rendered their prisoners all of the required services under the agreement. This leaves me to wonder why said prisoners were allowed to live, instead of being gassed or otherwise executed, as Jews claim their population of prisoners were. Jews weren't fighting the Germans directly, they were 'encouraging' other countries to wade into the fray ('sound familiar?...) Combat troops were shot, burned, hailed with artillery, stabbed and generally not made welcome when they entered the European war zone. However, once captured, Germany complied with the rules concerning their treatment. I think the Stalag system is an accurate measurement of how all POWs, refugees and other unfortunates were treated after capture.

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Re: The Stalag system

Postby Nessie » 8 years 2 months ago (Thu Apr 26, 2012 6:37 am)

I seems to me a contrast and compare excercise between the Stalag POW camps and the 'concentration/death camps' would be a worthwhile excercise in determining how the civilians such as Jews, Gypsies and other prisoners were really treated. The common image of Auschwitz/Birkenau is of a death camp and that of Stalag Luft III is of a camp where Allied POWs were treated well and heroics took place with The Great Escape. The image of Bergen-Belsen is of a death camp and that of Colditz was a place where Allied POWs were treated well and great heroics took place with various escapes.

To me many Stalags look similar to the 'concentration camps

Image

Image

with the barbed wire fences and rows of wooden huts.

Image

Image


Auschwitz had at least one orchestra, same as Colditz. Both had libraries and medical care.

One are for compariosn/contrast is the issue of hygene and disease. Were there differing rates of death by disease in the two different camps? What were the delousing facilities like? Was Zyklon B used in the POW camps? Were there any Kremas at the POW camps?

If you can show the 'concentration camps' to have had better or at least no worse conditions than the POW camps then as the opening post suggests, you will have a very strong argument against the common image of the 'concentration camps'.

PS - from my reading so far into this subject the treatment of Western Allies in POW camps was less harsh than with the Soviets, where both the Nazis and Soviets were pretty brutal towards each other. I recongnise there is no such thing as one and only one type of POW or 'concentration' camp.

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Re: The Stalag system

Postby borjastick » 8 years 2 months ago (Thu Apr 26, 2012 1:03 pm)

This is a very interesting thread but I fear the comparison will only hold water as far as the design and layout of the camps. From my knowledge (thin admittedly) POW's were treated strictly according to the Geneva convention or the equivalent. This was due to them being armed, uniformed combatants. If the Germans caught non uniformed partisans etc they were often executed on the spot. Plenty of evidence on this subject in south west France.

The officer class of the German army had a great respect for the British army and air force and treated them well. Also the officer class were of the background such as Rommel, who was well schooled and experienced in proper warfare. He was seen as a threat to the SS and as such Hitler and was executed for his good work!

The other major differences between the operation of the POW Stalags and concentration camps was that the numbers and movement of the Stalag prisoners was very low by comparison. Sanitation, food, heating were all much better.

Hope this helps.
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Re: The Stalag system

Postby Nessie » 8 years 2 months ago (Thu Apr 26, 2012 1:23 pm)

Yes that helps thanks. Comparing and contrasting film footage of the 'concentration' camps with the POW camps finds that the Allies were handed a propaganda coup on a plate. There is a marked difference in the condition of liberated inmates of the two types of camp, with a whole host of 'concentration' camps finding starvation and death

http://www.travelblog.org/pix/shim.gif

as opposed to the far healthier POWs

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=pl ... 9JPWEbKNfI

and

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=pl ... 5TL7wSHUOU

It certainly appears that the 'concentration' camp system pretty much collapsed in 1945.

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Re: The Stalag system

Postby Mkk » 8 years 2 months ago (Fri Apr 27, 2012 11:42 am)

POWs in German hands were generally treated well except for the Soviet prisoners. It it sometimes alleged that over 3 million of them died but from my research the number is much lower, about 1.7 million- still horrific anyway. Most of these died in the first months of the German-soviet war, from a lack of food. (The result of Soviet deconstruction in eastern territories just before the start of the war.) Some historians have also stated that the bad treatment of the Soviet POWs was partially the result of the Soviet refusal to join the Geneva convention.

That's not to say the treatment of German POWs by the Soviets was any better.

Russian canabalism of German soldiers:
Image

Source: http://vho.org/GB/Books/dth/fndgcffor.html

Walter post writes that, based on "reliable statistics" , 1.1 million German POWs died in Soviet hands. (http://vho.org/D/aik/Post.html)
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Re: The Stalag system

Postby Kingfisher » 8 years 2 months ago (Sat Apr 28, 2012 2:21 am)

There are several reasons to expect order to be maintained in the POW camps in the situation at the end of the war, when Germany collapsed, much better in the POW camps than in the concentration camps:
- The numbers involved were fewer and the units much smaller. The logistics of maintaining supplies would be simpler.
- As borgastick has commented, the German and British military respected each other and observed the Geneva convention.
- POWs remained under their own military discipline, whereas order was maintained - often brutally - in the concentration camps by "trusties" drawn from the criminal or political prisoners.

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Re: The Stalag system

Postby Nessie » 8 years 2 months ago (Sat Apr 28, 2012 8:51 am)

Niall Fergusson, the historian has compiled figures of death rates in POW camps in WWII.

Russian POWs held by Germans 57.5%
German POWs held by Russians 35.8%
American POWs held by Japanese 33.0%
German POWs held by Eastern Europeans 32.9%
British POWs held by Japanese 24.8%
British POWs held by Germans 3.5%
German POWs held by French 2.58%
German POWs held by Americans 0.15%
German POWs held by British 0.03%

I read Bradley Smith's article on the 'concentration' camp death rates

http://www.codoh.com/butz/di/dc/deaths.html

which aknowledges that it is based on the known records, which are heavily disputed.

Month Inmates Deaths Percent

July 98,000 8,329 8.50
Aug. 115,000 12,217 10.62
Sept. 110,000 11,206 10.19
Oct. 85,800 8,856 10.32
Nov. 83,500 8,095 9.69
Dec. 88,000 8,800 10.00
Jan. 123,000 9,839 8.00
Feb. 143,100 11,650 8.14
March 154,200 12,112 7.85
April 171,000 8,358 4.71
May 203,000 5,700 2.80
June 199,500 5,650 2.83

So overall you were best off as German POW in an Allied camp, middle at a 'concentration' camp and then much worse off when held by the Germans/Soviets and Japanese.

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Re: The Stalag system

Postby Hannover » 8 years 2 months ago (Sat Apr 28, 2012 11:39 am)

...which acknowledges that it is based on the known records, which are heavily disputed. ...So overall you were best off as German POW in an Allied camp, middle at a 'concentration' camp and then much worse off when held by the Germans/Soviets and Japanese.

"Disputed" is a distinct understatement.
I would really like to see Niall Ferguson's sources.
And BTW, the Soviets were part of the Allies.

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If it can't happen as alleged, then it didn't.

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Re: The Stalag system

Postby Nessie » 8 years 2 months ago (Sat Apr 28, 2012 1:09 pm)

I can give you a reference to Niall Fergusons work re POW death rates 'Ferguson, Niall (2004). "Prisoner Taking and Prisoner Killing in the Age of Total War: Towards a Political Economy of Military Defeat". War in History 11 (2): 148–92.'.

You are right about the Soviets being part of the Allies, that was careless shorthand from me. I should have been bothered to type out British, French and US or the Western Allies.

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Re: The Stalag system

Postby Zulu » 8 years 2 months ago (Sat Apr 28, 2012 2:37 pm)

Nessie wrote:Niall Fergusson, the historian has compiled figures of death rates in POW camps in WWII.
[...]
German POWs held by French 2.58%
German POWs held by Americans 0.15%

Even if the number of 1.7 million missing German DEFs established by Bacque could be disputed, these Fergusson's figures are ridiculous taking into account the absence of facilities and living conditions of the prisoners in hands of Western Allies.

Beside the substitution of the label POW by DEF (Disarmed Enemy Forces) in order to avoid respecting Geneva Conventions and the control/tracking by the International Red Cross, the US Army destroyed all copies of the POWs (DEFs)forms, some 8 million.
To resume:
- beneath the records left by Nazis add to those of the IRC, it is possible to track most of prisoners of Nazi Camps at the ITS of Bad Arolsen.
- such research is impossible for most of German prisoners on hands of allies.
POW Records Reveal Little

The fragmentary state of the surviving records is the major obstacle in determining whether any given individual was held by U.S. forces immediately after the war. Records have not survived for POWs[32] in American custody who were released before approximately September 1945.[33] OSI inspected U.S. POW files retained by the Prisoner of War Information Bureau (PWIB) and later transferred to Germany.[34]They are now maintained by the Deutsche Dienststelle[35] in Berlin where, along with German military personnel records, they are consulted in the process of evaluating pension and other claims by former German servicemen based on their service in the armed forces of Nazi Germany. Officials at the Deutsche Dienststelle confirmed that the United States did not keep copies of records for those German prisoners
__________________________________________________________________________________
32 - There is a technical distinction between those individuals taken into custody before the end of hostilities, "POWs," and the masses of individuals classified as "Disarmed Enemy Forces," who fell under U.S. jurisdiction after hostilities ceased. For the purposes of this report, however, all German military personnel in U.S. custody will be referred to as POWs.
33 - The early Standard Operating Procedures [SOP] for handling of POWs included a requirement to forward a copy of the POW form to the Central Registry of War Criminals and Security Suspects (CROWCASS). "Disbandment of German Disarmed Forces" 19 May 45 RG338; VIII Corps; AG Records BX7570. This practice was halted as impractical and all copies of the POW forms, some 8 million, were destroyed. "Report by United States and British Delegation to Permanent Commission for CROWCASS," RG466 War Crimes Office JAG; Bonn Embassy, Extradition Board Files.
34 - These files were transferred to Germany in 1965 under arrangement with the German Government.
35 - The Deutsche Dienststelle is an institution similar to the U.S. National Military Records Center in St. Louis.

http://www.rotten.com/library/bio/nazi/ ... eport.html


See the articles
In 'Eisenhower's Death Camps': A U.S. PrisonGuard's Story by Martin Brech. An American soldier who was present at German POW camps, describes the inhuman conditions that the prisoners were put through.

Eisenhower's Holocaust - His Slaughter Of 1.7 Million Germans
Attachments
DEF US Camp Bad Kreuznach Spiegel image-87049.jpg
German DEF US Camp Bad Kreuznach
DEF US Camps Martin Brech.jpg
German DEF US Camp

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Re: The Stalag system

Postby Hektor » 2 years 8 months ago (Tue Oct 17, 2017 4:01 pm)

Zulu wrote:
Nessie wrote:Niall Fergusson, the historian has compiled figures of death rates in POW camps in WWII.
[...]
German POWs held by French 2.58%
German POWs held by Americans 0.15%

Even if the number of 1.7 million missing German DEFs established by Bacque could be disputed, these Fergusson's figures are ridiculous taking into account the absence of facilities and living conditions of the prisoners in hands of Western Allies.

Beside the substitution of the label POW by DEF (Disarmed Enemy Forces) in order to avoid respecting Geneva Conventions and the control/tracking by the International Red Cross, the US Army destroyed all copies of the POWs (DEFs)forms, some 8 million.
To resume:
- beneath the records left by Nazis add to those of the IRC, it is possible to track most of prisoners of Nazi Camps at the ITS of Bad Arolsen.
- such research is impossible for most of German prisoners on hands of allies......[/b][/url]

Exactly my thoughts there. But people take as granted figures coming "from the Allies" - not realizing that this also would include the USSR as Nessie just again illustrated. Meanwhile available figures from the Germany are considered false by default. Although, by all accounts they are far more realistic not hushing up the fact that they had a serious problem with epidemics.


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