Were the reports on the conditions of prisoners of war accurate or could they be seen as propaganda?The memorandum constructed by the British government describes how a ‘reign of terror’ was inflicted on the British Officers held as prisoners of war by General von Hanisch, of the German Xth Army. The British argue that conditions in the camps at Clausthal, Holzminden and Strohen in 1918, did not match the levels set by the Geneva and Hague Conventions of 1906 and 1907. The British complain about the lack of facilities for exercise and recreation, the delay in receiving letters and parcels, the attitudes of the staff and the harsh treatment received including the bayoneting of officers.
The reply from the Germans firmly rejects these claims and argues that in some cases force was necessary to retain order and prevent escapes. They accuse the British of mistreating their own prisoners of war. Although the conditions in the camps were not at an acceptable level they were often depicted as being worse than they were in both German and British propaganda so that troops would not want to surrender to the enemy.
- Full title:
- Memorandum for communication to the Netherlands Minister and a statement from the German authorities in reply. From CAVE PAPERS. Vol. XIII. Personal and official documents relating to prisoners of war. 1915-June 1918.
- Held by:
- British Library
- © Crown Copyright and provided under an Open Government Licence
- Add MS 62467 ff.20-28 and ff.39-49
- Article by:
- Stephen Badsey
- The war machine
Professor Stephen Badsey considers the huge volume of official documentation produced during and after World World One for both public circulation and as secret state records.