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International Red Cross Reports on Nazi Treatment of Palestinian War Prisoners

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A report on the treatment by the Nazis of 1,200 Jewish and 400 Arab war-prisoners who fell into their hands last year during the campaigns in Greece and Crete, was made public here today on the basis of information received from the International Red Cross and letters reaching the Jewish Agency for Palestine.

The war-prisoners, all of them Palestinians, were serving with the Auxiliary Pioneer Corps which was attached to the British fighting forces. They are reported to be held in camp “Stalag VIII-B” which is situated near Lambsdorf, Upper Silesia. Delegates of the International Red Cross who have visited the camp several times emphasised in their reports that the representative of the prisoners who deals with the German camp authorities, a British officer, is seeing to it that the same treatment is given Jewish and non-Jewish prisoners. The Jews, however, are separated from the “Aryan” prisoners.

While the Red Cross representatives stated in their reports that the camp where the Palestinian Jewish prisoners are held “is well equipped” they also established that food is one of the major problems there. The International Red Cross Convention provides that prisoners are to be fed the same rations as the soldiers of the country in which they are imprisoned. It appears that the food in German prisoners’ camps is hardly adequate. In order to supplement this deficiency the British Red Cross Society despatches weekly food parcels from England to every British prisoner including soldiers from the colonies and mandated territories.

Over 16,000,000 dollars have so far been spent on this work. A typical parcel contains the following items: a tin of biscuits, cheese, chocolate, fish, fruit, jam, vegetables, soup, cold meat, milk, special food, Vitamin C, sugar, margarine, cocoa, tea, condiments, sundries. In addition, the next-of-kin of war prisoners are allowed to send a quarterly parcel.

In Palestine this next-of-kin parcel scheme is in the hands of the Joint Organization of the British Red Cross and Order of St. John of Jerusalem, the president of which is Lady MacMichael. They are assisted by a large group of English, Jewish and Arab women. A central card index of all prisoners of war is kept up-to-date and entries are made of each parcel despatched and of the confirmation of its receipt by the prisoner. This work is conducted on an entirely voluntary basis.

The next-of-kin parcels contain, apart from food, handkerchiefs, towels, toilet articles, and four woolen garments from the Jewish Soldiers’ Welfare Committee and a pullover, socks, scarf, helmet or mittens and a packet of soup as the gift of the Red Cross. From time to time so-called “bulk parcels” containing books, Hebrew Calendars and in-door games are despatched to Camp Commandants for distribution. While the Red Cross bears the office expenses and buys the wrapping material, the parcels themselves have to be paid for by the senders. Unfortunately, only about a 100 next-of-kin of Jewish war prisoners can afford to spend several dollars a year for these quarterly parcels, while 500 families are not in such a position and 600 prisoners, who hail mostly from Central and Eastern Europe, have no next-of-kin in Palestine. The Jewish Soldiers’ Welfare Committee has, therefore, resolved to “adopt” 1,100 prisoners of war as their next-of-kin.

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