the fact that the rations in England for a long time were main-
tained at a reasonable level, the number of parcels sent to Ger-
man prisoners was far smaller than that sent to British prisoners.
At first a considerable amount of food was sent into the German
prisoners' camps in England from their relations and .friends
residing in Great Britain, but when the shortage became acute
it became necessary to prohibit this practice.
The Hague Convention also requires the captor to treat his
prisoners as regards clothing on the same footing as his own
soldiers. The German Government claimed that it strictly
observed this article and forbade the sending of clothing by the
British Government. The article was not observed at all in
some German camps, and great trouble was caused by the claim,
in at all events some army corps, that boots were part of a sol-
dier's military equipment, and that the captors were entitled to
take them. The clothing in any case supplied by the Germans
was quite insufficient, and arrangements were made by which an
adequate supply was despatched according to a regular scale.
Some of it went astray and some was stolen, although a good
proportion reached the addressees. In England clothing was
issued when necessary to enemy prisoners, other than officers,
on a regular scale, which provided for them having a sufficient
change of clothing, while in both countries officers made their
own arrangements for the supply of the necessary clothing.
Application of the M Hilary Law of the Captors. Article 8
enacts that prisoners of war are subject to the laws, regulations
and orders in force in the army of the captor State, a provision
which gave rise to a good deal of trouble, owing, in England, to
the difficulty of carrying it out strictly while in some cases, as
in Bulgaria, punishments were allowed such as flogging for
ordinary breaches of discipline which were quite alien to British
ideas of what is permissible.
The German military law is in general far more severe than
the British, and there is this further great difference, that in
Germany officers as well as men may be summarily sent to cells
or awarded other severe punishments for trivial offences, while
in the United Kingdom, strictly, any offender above the rank of
private should have been tried by court-martial, a provision
amended during the war by the substitution of military courts.
In another respect the German code is more severe in that all
sentences of arrest involved solitary confinement, while one of
close arrest, which was limited to four weeks, meant that the
prisoner was confined in a dark cell, with a plank bed and bread
and water diet, though these aggravations of the punishment
were omitted on the fourth, eighth and subsequently every third
day, the prisoner receiving the ordinary camp diet on these days.
One punishment officially termed " field punishment," but
more generally known in England as the " post punishment,"
caused a great outcry in that country and much resentment
among British prisoners in Germany. It is provided in the
German Manual of Military Law that the punishment is to be
inflicted in a manner not detrimental to the health of the prisoner,
who is to be kept in an upright position with the back turned to
a wall or a tree in such a manner that the prisoner can neither
sit nor lie down. These last words were construed to mean ty-
ing the prisoner to a post; sometimes his feet were placed on a
brick which was removed after he was securely tied, and some-
times his hands were secured above his head. Apart, at all
events, from these aggravations, this punishment was in strict
accordance with the military law of the captors; indeed it corre-
sponds to the field punishment No. i authorized by the British
military law and described in the rules for field punishment for
offences committed on active service made under Sec. 44 of the
Army Act. These rules authorize the keeping of the offender in
fetters or handcuffs or both, and when so kept he may be attached
by straps or ropes for a period or periods not exceeding two hours
in any one day to a fixed object during not more than three out
of four consecutive days nor more than twenty-one days in all.
In Germany all prisoners are liable to be treated as " in the
field," i.e. on active service.
In one respect, viz. the punishments for attempted escape, the
German military law was less severe than the British, the greater
severity of the latter having apparently arisen from a misunder-
standing of the expression " peines disciplinaires " in the second
paragraph of the 8th Article of the Hague Convention. This
seems to have been understood on the Continent as a punish-
ment which could be awarded summarily: that is, arrest, open,
medium or close, for a period not exceeding six weeks. In Great
Britain the punishment was limited to 12 months' imprisonment;
in Germany it was far less for the simple offence, though it was
frequently added to by the addition of charges for damaging
Government property, and the like. The matter came under
discussion between the British and German Delegates at The
Hague in 1917 and 1918, and an agreement was arrived at by
which the punishment for a simple attempt to escape was to be
limited to fourteen days, or if accompanied with offences relating
PRISONERS OF WAR
to the appropriation, possession of or injury to property to two
months' military confinement.
In addition to the summary punishments, there were, of course,
in both countries the punishment of death and imprisonment,
which could only be inflicted by court-martial. In some cases
the German code lays down minimum punishments of great
severity, and in many of those cases, in which the infliction of
very severe punishments properly raised a great outcry in Eng-
land, the German court-martial had no option but to pass them.
The British military law on the other hand has only one offence
murder for which there is a fixed punishment; for others
it is " such less punishment as is in the Act mentioned."
In one respect the prisoners of both countries never were
satisfied. Neither understood or appreciated the procedure of
the other. The British never understood the long delays,
sometimes it is to be feared deliberate, which occurred in bring-
ing them to trial for alleged offences, and during which they
were kept under arrest, nor, owing to their ignorance of the
German military code, could they understand the very severe
sentences necessarily passed by courts-martial (which seem
usually to have been conducted with fairness), nor the right of
the prosecutor to appeal against a sentence which he considered
to be inadequate.
On the other hand, the Germans never appreciated the
British procedure, nor could they understand the absence of any
right of formal appeal from a sentence, for which ample provi-
sion is made in Germany, even against the award of a disciplin-
ary punishment, a right which, oddly enough, by Sec. 52 of the
Regulations relating to it, the accused shared with the prose-
cutor " only when the sentence has been carried out."
Parole. Articles 10, n and 12 deal with the subject of parole.
In the World War no combatant prisoners, with one exception,
were allowed to leave Germany or Great Britain on parole, or
to reside outside the camps. The only cases in which questions
arose were with regard to the temporary parole given when
officers left their camps for a walk, and the parole given by
those who were interned in neutral countries. According to the
custom of the British Army no officer ought to give his parole,
it being his duty to escape and rejoin his unit if he can, nor can
anyone below the rank of officer give a parole. In both coun-
tries, however, officers were eventually allowed to go out for a
walk in parties accompanied by an officer, each giving in writing
a temporary written parole that he would not attempt to escape,
nor during the walk make arrangements to escape, nor do any-
thing to the prejudice of the captor State. The parole was given
on leaving the camp and returned on reentry.
The case of those interned in neutral countries was different.
The British officers of the Royal Naval Division interned in
Holland after the fall of Antwerp were permitted to choose their
own residence in Groningen on parole, the men being interned
close by. This privilege was withdrawn for a time, and the
officers were interned in a fortress, but it was restored later.
As time went on, the Netherlands Government permitted
officers to return to England and Germany on parole, on proof
of the serious illness of a near relative, a concession which was
afterwards extended so that regular periods of leave were en-
joyed by both officers and men, the former giving a formal
parole and the latter a promise to return on the expiration of
their leave, while the British Government gave its assurance
that the men would not be employed on any work to do with
war, and would return at the end of their leave. Similarly, the
Danish and Norwegian Governments granted leave to British
and German combatants interned in their countries.
No parole seems to have been taken from those officers who
were interned in Switzerland or Holland under the agreements
made in 1917 and 1918 with the German Government.
Relief Societies. Article 15 deals with societies -for the relief
of prisoners. An immense amount of valuable work, impossible
here to particularize, was done by such societies. The Ameri-
can branch of the Y.M.C.A. especially did much for the pris-
oners in England and Germany, being permitted to work on the
following conditions, substantially the same in both countries.
A building or tent might be erected in the camp with the
consent of the general officer in command of the district or
army corps, but nothing might be sold in it nor could any one
be employed there other than a prisoner. A member of the
association might visit the camp once a week for a definite time.
He might hold services, provide materials for games, entertain-
ments and employment, arrange instructional courses, pro-
vide books (subject to censorship) and writing materials other
than writing paper and envelopes. Nothing might be given to
or received by a prisoner without the commandant's consent.
Recreation. No express provision is contained in the Hague
Convention relating to the occupation of prisoners in their
leisure time, but much of the good work done by the societies
had to do with the recreation and education of prisoners. In
both countries, and in nearly all camps, provision was eventually
made for sufficient space for recreation and exercise, but this was
not the case at first. At Halle, for instance, a German camp
for officers, established in a disused factory, the only place for
exercise was the space enclosed by the three buildings, in which
some 500 officers lived. It measured about 100 yards by 50,
and in winter was a morass of water and mud; in summer deep
in dust. In some of the men's camps the space was very con-
fined, and organized games of any kind were impossible. But
later things improved, and in most provision, sometimes at the
prisoners' expense, was made for sufficient room for tennis, foot-
ball and other games.
In England, facilities were provided by the War Office. To
take two typical instances, it may be said that at Donnington
Hall for German officers, there was a considerable space in front
of the house, and at Dorchester, for men, there was a large field
where any games could be played.
As time went on, walks outside the camp were permitted for
officers on their giving a temporary parole, and in Germany, in
some of the larger working camps, the men were allowed out
for walks on Sunday.
With regard to educational facilities, in England both officers
and men made their own arrangements, as they did in Germany,
with the full concurrence of the authorities. At Miinster, for
instance, the general officer commanding excused all students
from work, and much was done by some of the prisoners in the
organization of classes and lectures. The neutral organizations,
such as the American and Danish Y.M.C.A.'s, also did a great
deal in this direction, as did certain of the German civilians in
the neighbourhood of the great camp at Gottingen. Professor
Stange and some of his colleagues interested themselves in the
prisoners and organized the educational work in the camp, and
he himself had an office there where he was accessible to prison-
ers, and assisted them with his advice on educational matters.
He used even to obtain the requisites for games through the
Red Cross in Switzerland. Unfortunately for them, all the
British prisoners were ultimately removed from Gottingen,
which had become something of a model camp.
Some of the larger employers were also very considerate in
this respect, providing recreation halls and fields for playing
games, and even musical instruments. At Mulheim the Dutch
visitor found the employers had paid the expenses of the prison-
ers' Christmas festivities.
Letters. Article 16 was observed by both countries, except
that at one time in some of the camps in Germany customs
duties were charged on the contents of parcels, but this seems to
have been due to some misapprehension, and was soon aban-
doned. Prisoners were as a rule allowed to write two letters a
month and a postcard every week, and, in addition, a postcard
in the prescribed form acknowledging the receipt of a parcel.
But later in the war a " first capture postcard " was introduced,
by which on a printed form a prisoner was allowed to notify to
his relatives his capture, his state of health and his address.
Pay. Article 17 provides for officers receiving the same rate
of pay as officers of the corresponding rank in the army of the
captors. This provision was not observed by the German
Government, who paid subalterns 60 marks a month and other
ranks rather more. Accordingly, the British Government
PRISONERS OF WAR
declined to carry out the terms of the article and paid the Ger-
man subalterns 45. a day and other ranks 45. 6d., naval officers
being paid according to their relative rank. Out of this an
officer was required to pay for his food, laundry and clothing,
a deduction being made if he was in hospital (where, of course,
he was provided with everything necessary). By an arrange-
ment made later the German Government was allowed to make
a small addition to these daily rates of pay. Medical officers
employed in the care of sick and wounded prisoners of their own
nationality received the full pay of medical officers of corres-
ponding rank in the army of the captors.
Religious Exercises. -Article 18 is designed to secure to pris-
oners complete liberty in the exercise of their religion, and during
the World War no real complaint was made on either side.
In the United Kingdom German pastors who had been resi-
dent in the country were allowed to hold services in the camps,
but difficulties arose and the permission was withdrawn. There-
upon some pastors elected to be interned, with a view to min-
istering to the prisoners. Later, however, the permits were
issued in a modified form, and English and American clergy and
laymen and members of the Danish and Swiss Student Christian
Movement were allowed to visit the camps, the necessary funds
being provided by the American Branch of the Y.M.C.A.
The Roman Catholic prisoners were usually attended by the
priest of the district in which the camp was situated and every
facility was given to them. Where no German-speaking priest
was at hand the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster charged
the German priests of his archdiocese to visit the camps every
now and then in order to enable the prisoners to go to confession
and to hear a sermon in their mother tongue.
In Germany, at first, the Rev. F. Williams, who had been in
charge of the English Church in Berlin, was allowed to visit the
different camps and hospitals. But this permission was with-
drawn and the prisoners were left to conduct their own services,
to which, except at Grossenweder Moor, no objection was
raised. A few British chaplains were captured, and did good
work until they were repatriated. Great assistance was given
also by the American branch of the Y.M.C.A., and by Arch-
deacon Nies, an American clergyman at Munich, until the
United States came into the war.
The German clergy also did what they could for the prisoners
in many camps and hospitals. Some of them were spoken of
very warmly by the British prisoners.
The needs of the Roman Catholics were more easily met
owing to the presence among the French prisoners of many
priests who did excellent work, and the Bishop of Paderborn
(afterwards Archbishop of Cologne) did much for the prisoners.
Moreover, Father Crotty was sent from Rome and was per-
mitted to minister at Limburg and Giessen, partly perhaps
because he was an Irishman, and it was hoped his influence
might be useful to the Germans.
In the German working camps there was no regular provision
for religious services, though Mr. Williams seems to have visited
some of the larger places, and in one district a German pastor is
said to have travelled around the small camps and ministered
to the prisoners. There was a standing order of the Kriegs-
ministerium that, at all events in the country districts, the
prisoners should be allowed to attend the local churches. This,
though of value to Roman Catholics, was not much use to the
Protestants, owing to the difficulties of language.
At Zossen the Germans built a mosque for Mahommedan
prisoners, and generally arrangements seem to have been made
to avoid hurting religious and caste prejudices.
Medical Treatment. Up to this point an attempt has been
made to show how the provisions of the Hague Convention were
applied in Great Britain and Germany. But this Convention
does not deal with everything which affects the well-being of
prisoners of war. The Geneva Convention of 1906 requires
the belligerents to respect and take care of the wounded and
sick without distinction of nationality, and leaves them at
liberty to agree for the restoration of wounded left on the field,
the repatriation of wounded after rendering them fit for removal
or after recovery, and for handing over the sick and wounded
to a neutral State to be interned by it till the conclusion of
hostilities. What was in fact done must be considered under
three heads: the attention given (i) in the regular hospitals, (2)
in the main camps and (3) in the working camps.
Hospitals. In Germany at first there seem to have been
inadequate arrangements made for the reception of seriously
wounded prisoners, but later well-arranged and well-equipped
hospitals were available, the principal being in Berlin, at Cologne
and Paderborn, though of course there were a large number
elsewhere. As time went on and the pressure on Germany
became more and more acute, the supply of medical requisites
became deficient, bandages were made of paper, drugs and
anaesthetics were less plentiful, but, though naturally British
prisoners would fare worse than the wounded Germans, there is
no evidence that the former were intentionally deprived of any-
thing necessary for them if there was an adequate supply.
The conduct of the German doctors to the prisoners in the
regular hospitals is one of the bright pages in the sad history of
the World War, and is worthy of their great profession. Most
of the returned British prisoners reported that the doctors were
kind and humane, while many of them spoke of them in warmest
possible terms and told how the doctor had said that when a
prisoner was wounded or ill he no longer looked on him as an
enemy, or how, though he hated the English, he did his very
best. There were exceptions, who formed a very small minority.
The large majority of German doctors worked hard, often with
infinite kindness, in the interests of those in their charge, and
unreservedly placed such knowledge and skill as they possessed
at the disposal of the prisoners.
The nursing in Germany was carried out by orderlies, by
trained nurses or by sisterhoods. It seems to have varied very
much. In some cases it was good and kind, in some indifferent,
and in some rough and bad. But there appears to be no reason
to think that in any case it was intentionally less good than
Main Camps. The same satisfactory account of the medical
arrangements in the main German camps cannot be given, even
after the first disorganization was overcome. There was in each
camp a lazaret providing accommodation for a number propor-
tionate to the number for which the camp was designed, but
the arrangements were often very incomplete.
There seem to have been a large number of Russian doctors
employed in the German camps, while in a few, for short periods,
English medical officers were employed though in all cases a
German seems to have been responsible. The nursing was in
the main done by prisoner orderlies, many of whom of course
were quite untrained, though they seem to have done their best.
It is impossible to generalize as to the conduct of the German
medical staff in hundreds of camps over a period of four years,
but the general impression produced by the evidence is that the
staffs were humane and did all they could.
There is reliable evidence that the nature of the food provided
in the German camp hospitals, as distinguished from the regular
hospitals, where, until supplies became very short, it seems to
have been satisfactory, was quite unsuited for invalids. A sick
prisoner was a non-worker, and therefore received the ordinary
camp ration, less 10 per cent. This was even the case in the
typhus camps, where the requisite milk and light food for the
fever-stricken patients had to be provided by the British and
Allied medical officers themselves.
There seems to have been insufficient care, at all events in
the early stages of the war, to prevent the spread of tuberculosis
by the segregation from the healthy of those suffering from that
disease. Later, however, steps were taken to effect this, and
more than one place was established exclusively for tuberculous
patients, while the arrangement made for their internment in
Switzerland did still more to deal with this evil.
It must not of course be said that this mingling of the sick
and healthy was deliberate. It was probably due to want of
thought, an excuse which cannot be made for the policy adopted
by the German Government of mixing all the Allies together,
PRISONERS OF WAR
although this was bound in the circumstances to lead to an
excessive amount of illness. This policy was quite deliberate.
Mr. Gerard, the American ambassador to Germany, in 1915
raised the question with the German authorities with regard to
officers, and reported: " I was told that this was a political move
ordered for the purpose of showing to the French, British,
Belgian and Russian officers that they were not natural Allies."
The commandant of the Gardelegen camp tried to enforce the
observance of this regulation during the height of the typhus
epidemic at that camp, but his direct order was deliberately dis-
obeyed by the British doctors, with excellent results.
Though this policy did not produce any ill effects upon the
health of the prisoners in the officers' camps in Germany, its
results, assisted by the insanitary condition of many of them,
were disastrous in the main men's camps. Typhus is endemic
in Russia, and the Russian prisoners, herded together with
those of other nationalities, spread the disease till in some camps
appalling epidemics were produced. At Ohdruf, Langensalza,
Zerbst, Wittenberg and Gardelegen the fever raged with great
virulence. At Wittenberg the camp was overcrowded and in-
sanitary, the washing arrangements were nothing more than
troughs in the open, which, with the supply pipes, were during
the hard winter of 1914 frequently frozen. In these circum-
stances, a serious epidemic broke out in Dec. 1914. As soon as
this was recognized, the whole German staff, military and medi-
cal, left, and never came inside again till Aug. 1915, by which
time all the patients were convalescent. For his services in
combating the epidemic Dr. Aschenbach, the German principal
medical officer, received the Iron Cross. Many Allied and Brit-
ish medical officers had been improperly detained in Germany
after their capture, and were dispatched to take the place of the
German doctors, who (it is charitable to believe, in obedience to
superior orders) had deserted their charges. In Feb. 1915, six