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belgotim

Holzminden Internment Camp

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belgotim

For those interested in some primary source informaiton on an internment camp:

Source: FO 383 / 210

“Interview with Ms Catherine Cleverley”

Arrival at Holzminden:

a) to sergeant’s office where she had to hand over all the money

she received:

i. 2 bowls (1 enamel for washing and 1 for dinner)

ii. 1 spoon

iii. 2 towels

iv. 1 mattress filled with paper

B) on the second day:

i. a hot bath for all the new internees

ii. the clothes were disinfected

iii. she was put in barrack 21, along with around 100 people

iv. the place was divide into “rooms” by partitions

Rooms had wooden bunks (around 10) a long table and 1 wooden stool for each person. There was also one stove and 2 windows.

Continued:

“vermin was terrible”

“in the morning one’s feet and hands and neck were as though one had lain in a bed of stinging nettles, and there were fleas of enormous size. We were simply eaten alive.”

Q: Why were there so many fleas?

A: “Because of the wood. As you lay in bed the bugs fell off the ceilings on your face, if you sat at the table you had to kill bugs running up the wall. It became so bad that we could not sleep in the wooden place at all, we had to take our mattresses out and put them on the floor.”

“Committee on the Treatment by the Enemy of British Prisoners of War”. (24/11/16)

Holzminden is said to have been built by British and Belgan Prisoners of War. It has been in use since the first months of the war as the main camp for the internment of civilians, male and female, Belgian, French and Russian, and latterly also Serbian and Roumanians.

The mens’ quarters is divided from the womens’ by a barbed wire fence, the gate in which is opened daily from 12 to 3 (on Sundays from 12 to 5), when the prisoners are allowed to mingle freely.

They [the prisoners] bought napthaline and tried to clean the walls, but nothing could get rid of the bugs and fleas. There were also mice and rats.

The food was from the beginning uneatable. In the morning we were given a portion of black bread and coffee (or nettle tea), at midday we received soup and at 6pm we were given soup or coffee, with occasionally a piece of sausage or cheese or raw herring.

Those who received parcels from home lived on them. A warm shower-bath was provided once a week.

Only at a late stage were attempts made to separate the disease-ridden from the healthy. Until spring 1916 all lived together, bathed together and used the same sanitary accommodation.

From the first no effort seems to have been made in the control of the camp, to secure any moral discipline. The most open immorality has been habitual, and no restraint imposed even in the interest of the children, who have been left to grow familiar with the sight of vice, and in some cases to suffer contamination themselves.

At night the men are able to climb the barrier, and habitually use the opportunity of doing so. Irregular births have occurred in the camp. The German soldiers on guard have themselves been among the offenders, and the office who is second in command of the camp is stated to have been as bad as they.

Source: FO 383 / 324From:

G. Ridder Van Rappard 17/12/18

Minister Resident

Netherland Legation

Berlin

“Unanounced visit to Holzminden Camp. I was received by Hauptmann Wyneken, the Adjudant to the Camp Commandant, Oberst von Gallus. There are four British prisoners in the camp:

- Dr. David Oswald

- Mr. E Johnson [tradesman from Antwerp, aged 63]

- Mr. John Barkow

- Mrs. Edith Carter, née Schnack.

There are some 2,500 prisoners in the camp; 300 women and 90 children.

Housing conditions:

There is one part for the males and one part for the females. The wooden barracks do not appear to be overcrowded and a sufficient quantity of coal is provided for the coming winter months.

Food:

The camp food is prepared in the Central Kitchen, but the British prisoners are allowed to cook their own food on special ovens, which have been placed at their disposal. No complaint about the food was made by the prisoners.

Canteen:

There were the usual articles on sale at the Camp Canteen. The camp authorities, whenever possible, endeavoured to give effect to special orders or requests made by prisoners.

Letters and Parcels:

Letters and parcels are censored at the camp.

Sanitary:

Supervised by the medical staff which consists of 3 German military doctors, 2 Russian doctors, 2 French doctors and a Dental Surgeon. The bathing and washing facilities are satisfactory and running water is supplied throughout the camp.

Clothing:

Clothes and shoes are provided by the camp authorities only in cases where the prisoners themselves are not in a position to pay for them, of if the Help Committee cannot supply them.

Work:

The British subjects in the camp are employed in the usual light camp duties; none of the interned are compelled to work outside the camp.

Exercises and Recreation:

Walks outside the camp are not permitted. Theatre performances and concerts are allowed. The children in the camp attend the Camp School.

Religion:

A Protestant clergyman holds religious services once a fortnight in the camp. These are also several Roman Catholic clergymen in the camp, who conduct services every morning.

Source: FO 383 / 390

From:

G. Ridder Van Rappard 03/04/18

Minister Resident

Netherland Legation

Berlin

“I visited the camp at Holzminden on March 26, 918. I was received by the Commandant, Oberst Gallus. There is a total of about 2,500 prisoners interned, of whom 17 are British.”

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Stebie9173

Tim,

So you're the reason I couldn't get a FO383 Box for toffee, yesterday! :(

Never mind, though! ;)

Didn't get chance to review much, and my digital camera pics were too late in the day to come out right, but interesting stuff.

Steve.

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belgotim

I had that one out on Saturday....I'm usually at the NA between 10:30 and 15:00 every Saturday....

not guilty :)

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belgotim

I also found some pictures of the camp on a french website.

post-8077-1132236788.jpg

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belgotim

general vue of the camp:

post-8077-1132236832.jpg

post-8077-1132236840.jpg

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belgotim

and the menu:

post-8077-1132236869.jpg

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ian turner

Here's a pic of Holzminden - taken from ''I Was There''. The article was about an escape of some 29 British Officers from the camp in July 1918, tunneling their way out in classic WW2 style. 10 made it to freedom apparently.

In this view you can see the tunnel excavated by the Germans afterwards.

Ian

post-7046-1132257126.jpg

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delta

Thanks for posting this - it's just another part of the war of which i was totally unaware! fascinating

Could you please confirm whether this "Holzminden" is located south of the old British Garrison town of Minden on the Weser; the pictures certainly seem to show the same sort of houses as well as the ridge which runs west from the Kaiser Wilhem's statue?

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belgotim

To be honest I am not sure where Holzminden is so any suggestions are more than welcome!

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Stebie9173

It's about 60 miles SE of Minden, halfway between Minden and Gottingen. Directly north of Kassel.

Steve.

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belgotim

All the documents I read so far about this camp indicate that it was for civilians and not members of the armed forces.

Does anybody know when the Germans put the British (who later escape) into the camp?

Tim

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delta

Steve

VMT :)

Stephen

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stevem

Pope-Hennessey states that British officers were sent to the officer POW camp at Holzminden from 1917. There had previously been a camp for French civilians, both male and female.

There are a couple of good books about the escape from Holzminden:

The Tunnellers of Holminden, by H G Durnford, published in 1930 by the Cambridge University Press. Durnford was a POW at the camp when the escape happened. Durnford states that British officer POWs started being sent to Holzminden in September 1917.

Above the tumult, by Barry Winchester, published by Allison & Busby in 1971. The book is about three RFC POWs, Caspar Kennard, Cecil Blain and David Gray. All three were involved in the Holzminden escaped and were among the 10 successful escapers.

According to Durnford the unsuccessful escapers were returned to Holzminden for court martial. They were tried at Hozminden on 27 September 1918 and sentenced to six months imprisonment.

Regards

Steve

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belgotim

Frederic Baines (British National living in Antwerp at the outbreak of WW1) was interned in Germany in the Holzminden Camp. His brother Charles, on the other hand, was sent to the Antwerp military jail.

Why would the Germans not also have sent him to Germany? Would he have been put in jail for having broken the law, whereas Frederic didn’t do anything wrong (other than being British) and was thus sent to Germany?

Thought more than welcome.

Tim

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Doug Johnson

Tim,

When the round up of British nationals occured in Germany, which incidently was in retaliation for the British interning German nationals, most were sent to Ruhbelen. Some 'suspicious' characters however went to jail where they underwent further investigation etc. It is possible that Charles had connections or a job etc which made him 'suspicious'.

Doug

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belgotim

Hi Doug,

to be honest I'm not sure.

I was talking to my cousin (twice removed) about his father Frederic (who was in Holzminden camp). Jack told me he thought he had heard that Charles was tortured when in the jail of Antwerp.

I can't see what he could have done to get that type of treatment. Charles was born 06 June 1897 and from a letter he wrote his parents from in jail I can deduce he was picked-up around the end of September - beginning of October 1917. This makes him 20 years old.

On 02 February 1918 he died of tuberculosis.

Purely on the basis of Jack's thought that he had been tortured I have also been asking some people on the forum if they know anything about the resistance movement in Belgium....

I can post his letter to his parents if you want. Tis in French though.

Tim

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GreyC

Hi,

this is an old thread, but maybe it is worth making clear that there were two separate camps at Holzminden. The one with mostly British, Australian and South-African officers was situated in the barracks of the former German IR 164 and later IR 174. That´s the camp where the escape took place. The far bigger one was situated at the brink of the Solling (mountain range) on a former military training ground. It housed thousands of civil internees of foreign origin but also a few "unwanted" Germans as well as French and Russian POWs.

GreyC

Edited by GreyC

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