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Remembered Today:

Internment rather than Repatriation


MelPack
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Hello

I noticed that some POWs were released by Germany to be interned in Holland rather than to be repatriated via Holland because of the severity of their wounds:

post-859-1170429842.jpg

I am curious as to the reasons for this arrangement and the criteria that were used to select transferees. It also ties in with a recent thread:

 

Regards

Mel

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Mel,

I believe that it was the Hague Convention of 1907 which ruled on these matters at that time

Laws of War:

Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers and Persons in Case of War on Land (Hague V); October 18, 1907

CHAPTER II Belligerents Interned and Wounded Tended in Neutral Territory

Art. 11.

A neutral Power which receives on its territory troops belonging to the belligerent armies shall intern them, as far as possible, at a distance from the theatre of war.

It may keep them in camps and even confine them in fortresses or in places set apart for this purpose.

It shall decide whether officers can be left at liberty on giving their parole not to leave the neutral territory without permission.

Art. 12.

In the absence of a special convention to the contrary, the neutral Power shall supply the interned with the food, clothing, and relief required by humanity.

At the conclusion of peace the expenses caused by the internment shall be made good.

Art. 13.

A neutral Power which receives escaped prisoners of war shall leave them at liberty. If it allows them to remain in its territory it may assign them a place of residence.

The same rule applies to prisoners of war brought by troops taking refuge in the territory of a neutral Power.

Art. 14.

A neutral Power may authorize the passage over its territory of the sick and wounded belonging to the belligerent armies, on condition that the trains bringing them shall carry neither personnel nor war material. In such a case, the neutral Power is bound to take whatever measures of safety and control are necessary for the purpose.

The sick or wounded brought under the these conditions into neutral territory by one of the belligerents, and belonging to the hostile party, must be guarded by the neutral Power so as to ensure their not taking part again in the military operations. The same duty shall devolve on the neutral State with regard to wounded or sick of the other army who may be committed to its care.

Art. 15.

The Geneva Convention applies to sick and wounded interned in neutral territory.

for the full text see; http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/lawofwar/hague05.htm

regards

Michael

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I think that this (see the last 2 lines) is the arrangement under which the wounded would be sent to Holland

While the Hague Convention above relates to their treatment while in Holland

Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armies in the Field. Geneva, 6 July 1906.

CHAPTER I

THE SICK AND WOUNDED

Art. 2. Subject to the care that must be taken of them under the preceding Article, the sick and wounded of an army who fall into the power of the other belligerent become prisoners of war, and the general rules of international law in respect to prisoners become applicable to them.

The belligerents remain free, however, to mutually agree upon such clauses, by way of exception or favor, in relation to the wounded or sick as they may deem proper.

They shall especially have authority to agree:

1. To mutually return the sick and wounded left on the field of battle after an engagement.

2. To send back to their own country the sick and wounded who have recovered, or who are in a condition to be transported and whom they do not desire to retain as prisoners.

To send the sick and wounded of the enemy to a neutral state, with the consent of the latter and on condition that it shall charge itself with their internment until the close of hostilities.

for the full text see here http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/FULL/180?OpenDocument

regards

Michael

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There were several agreements between the warring parties regarding 'repatriation'. Generally, repatriated prisoners were called 'exchange prisoners' on account of the agreement whereby those repatriated from one side were balanced by an equal number from the other. There appear to have been two levels of repatriation and there are comments to that effect from repatriated prisoners who were sick enough to be repatriated to Holland say but not sick enough to be returned home. The selection of British prisoners appears to be a bit random at times but all were cleared through Aachen after being selected at their respective camps. The Red Cross appears to have been involved in this process as there are reports of prisoners having been selected for repatriation by the Red Cross at Gustrow. Having arrived at Aachen it was not necessarily straight forward as there are reports of prisoners being sent there, not selected (quota full) and returned to their camp. They were sent again with others who are going for the first time and again not selected whilst first timers were. I think there was also a hiccup over a report that a transport carrying prisoners was sunk.

Later in the war there was an agreement regarding unwounded officers who were exchanged again on a one for one basis.

Prisoners of war should have been interned but Pte Simmons in his story 'Three Times and Out' indicates that they had a choice of being interned, staying in Holland and working or going back to England, and if they signed a paper (not specified as to what this was) they could not change their mind and would be sent back to England.

Doug

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Forgot the other agreement which was for youngsters under the age of 18? There was no exchange agreement here and certainly Britain complied even when they knew that within weeks of returning a prisoner of say 17, they would be in the ranks of the German army.

Doug

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Michael & Doug

Many thanks for the time that you have taken in posting the quality responses.

It is fascinating material and casts considerable light on an area that until recently I was only vaguely aware of.

Regards

Mel

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My own interest in the subject of 'Internment in Holland' stems from the Royal Naval Division's adventure at Antwerp in October 1914.

There was some confusion at the end and messages were mishandled or received too late for some to make good their withdrawal. A decision was made to go to Holland rather than face capture by the Germans and about 1479 officers and men were interned as a result.

The question arises whether or not they understood that they would be held there for the rest of the war? Being naval men, did they perhaps consider the wrong Hague Convention?

As well as that quoted in my post of yesterday, there is another Hague Convention also of 1907

Laws of War:

Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers in Naval War (Hague XIII); October 18, 1907

In particular see

"Art. 10.

The neutrality of a Power is not affected by the mere passage through its territorial waters of war-ships or prizes belonging to belligerents."

and the subsequent articles which deal with war-ships entering the jurisdiction of a neutral power.

Did the Royal Naval commanders of these 1479 men misunderstand exactly which Hague Convention applied in their case and mistakenly believe that Holland would grant them leave to transit their country to a port where ship could taken for England?

In the event the Dutch however saw them as a military rather than a naval unit, and they kept them interned for the duration.

[for the full text of Hague XIII see http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/lawofwar/hague13.htm]

regards

Michael

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I have a WO161 report from an officer of the RND who was on a train that arrived at Antwerp station where they detrained to find themselves in a city that had already fallen. They were taken prisoner and whilst they were lined up under guard one of them went insane (named in the report) and thought he saw some more Brits arriving. He shouted for them to go away as there were Germans there. After a pretty savage beating during which his wrist was broken he was taken away and executed the next morning.

With regard to ships I think the example of the Ingotz Mendi may be a partial explanation. This was a Spanish vessel taken as prize ship by the German raider Wolf (Spain was neutral but that did not seem to matter much). Full of PoW's (mainly MN crew and civilian passengers) it ran aground off Denmark. At first the German crew were allowed to try and refloat but eventually the Danish authorities realised what was going on, took off the prisoners, interned the German crew and returned the ship to its owners ie whilst it was thought to be a German prize it was OK for it to be in their territorial waters and the crew were safe but as soon as they realised the ship was not a prize ship and that it carried prisoners, their status changed.

(If a neutral ship is carrying cargo for a belligerent and is 'captured' the cargo is forfeit but not the vessel. The illegal sinking of American ships was supposedly one of the reasons for America joining in)

Doug

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quote: "I have a WO161 report from an officer of the RND who was on a train that arrived at Antwerp station where they detrained to find themselves in a city that had already fallen. They were taken prisoner and whilst they were lined up under guard one of them went insane (named in the report) and thought he saw some more Brits arriving. He shouted for them to go away as there were Germans there. After a pretty savage beating during which his wrist was broken he was taken away and executed the next morning"

Doug,

I have heard of the affair at Moerbeke during the withdrawal, but 'on a train that arrived at Antwerp' suggests that this is something else. Can you supply more details please?

with apologies to Mel for this diversion

Michael

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I have to agree with Michael that this sounds like a strange, garbled version of the Moerbeke affair. For a start, I do not believe that there were any trains arriving at Antwerp station after the city had fallen and certainly not from the area held by the British forces. I, too, would like more details.

I am also aware of several sick RND POWs who were transferred to Switzerland for internment - some for the duration, some to be repatriated after a short while.

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