Page 2, 2nd November 1945

2nd November 1945
Page 2
Page 2, 2nd November 1945 — WAR PRISONERS IN BRITAIN
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Organisations: War Office
Locations: London

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WAR PRISONERS IN BRITAIN

SIR,---Thank you very much for publishing in your last two num

bers the letters of M. E. G. Huntley and P. Thompson on behalf of the Italian and German prisoners of war. Mr. Thompson rtates: "As a prisots. existence their life could be a good deal mule intolerable." I agree.

In German concentration camps, in German prisoners of war camps life was more intolerable; there is no question about it. But did we not call the Get mans pagans?. Did we not fight them in the name of Christianity?

Arc we not bound by all we have said in the justification of our cause, by all our intercessions to Almighty God to give His help to our cause, to behave now as Christ has taught us to behave? Or arc we going to he like the servant, who, after having been Forgiven the debt of ten thousand talents, puts his fellow-servant in prison for owing him a hundred pence? Are we not bound now, that Almighty God has given us victory, to behave like Christians to those prisoners?

Malicious press reports have fostered the idea. that the prisoners of war are having a much better and more comfortable life than the civilians who helped In win this war.

'As a journalist I have had occasion to see for myself. And the men I saw were neither Germans, who could be suspected of harbouring Nazi sentiments, nor Italians, who, under their Fascist leaders, declared war on the Allies. but Austrians, who. the first victims of Nazism, were forced into the German forces, who for years did all in their power to weaken the German war effort, and now they are kept as prisoners. not co-operators, like the ftalians. are worse off than the Germans. for they are lacking the impertinence of the average German. that helps those to get away with quite a number of things.

At dawn the prisoners get up, wash, dress and have their breakfast in a hurry. for mostly they have quite some dish:net to their working-places. I know of working parties who have an hour's ride every morning and every night. Their breakfast is bailey, without sugar or milk. At 8.30 they start work. As every man in the building trade can ascertaire hard work. During the morning they have a tenminutes break and another one during the afternoon. Lunch time is now half-an-hour. Six days a week they %yolk till duel, at the moment about 5 o'clock. their rations for those hours being half-a-loaf of white bread per man per day. a rmall piece of margarine and a very small piece of cheese, or two sausages, or a bite of brawn and, three times a day. a cup of brown water. called coffee. without milk or sugar, or• even saccharine; sometimes this sniff is called cocoa. When they get back to their camps it is dark and therefore they cannot do anything else but wash quickly, have their hot meal and lay down on their straw mattresses.

As I said, camp conditions vary. know of one camp that consists of tents on loamy soil with im planking Slid no waterproof sheeting between the grass and the straw mattresses. Every time it rains the whole thing is just one mess of mud. It is not surprising that the piisoners in this camp suffer severely from rheumatism.

Those Austrians are good and fervent Catholics and their faith alone keeps them upright in their tribulations. For more than a year they have not had any news from their families: they do not know whether their wives, their children. their parents, live at all. No letters, no Red Crass parcels. but plenty of news about the Russians raping the women and children of RusRain-occupied Austria. Kept behind barbed wire like wild dangerous beasts. it is enough to drive anyone mental; it has driven quite a number of them mental.

Need all this be? The war is over: those men can no more be used by the enemy as a danger for us; there is no more justified reason to keep them prisoners, to keep them behind barbed wire like animals.

It is our Christian duty to see that our Catholic brethren of Austria get their human, their Christian rights hack. that they are being given hack their liberty and, foremost, that they get brought back to their country and their families.

ELGA BURGHARDT (Mts.).

9. Lupus Street. Westminster, London. S.W.1.

Sit-Ishould like to express not only my own personal thanks, but the thanks of many dear Italian friends who have so kindly written to me upon this vital issue.

In reply to onc or two questions about transport facilities, may I say that transport is available: only common sense seems to be lacking at the War Office.

1, personally, associate myself with the claim of the Germans to be repatriated, and also the Austrians, about whom we are allowed to know so little and who live, "no, exist and slave," under conditions in this country which ought to keep us awake at night.

The silence of some people regarding the agonies of the Italian and Austrian slaves in this country almost places them outside the category labelled " human."

MICHAEL E. 0, Hurn-Lee.

Honor House, St. Michael's.

Tenterden, Kent. ,




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