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Documents on the Nazi concentration camps at Buchenwald, near Weimar, and elsewhere


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Red Cross in Germany

From: Bill Boas [address withheld]


Thursday, July 1, 1999

During the war the American Red Cross published a: 'Prisoners of War Bulletin' which was sent each month to families of American prisoners of war held in German and Japanese Prison camps.

I ghostwrote a biography of a navigator of a B-24 shot down by the Japanese and interred in Japan. His wife saved archives of the period, including copies of this 'Prisoners of War Bulletin'. I have an original issue from March 1945, which is Vol.3, No. 3.

The first page article, "Transportation Crisis in Germany," describes the problems the Red Cross had in getting food parcels to the camps, because of the disruption of the German transportation system by Allied bombing. The article acknowledges the German efforts in this paragraph:

"For four years the Germans maintained a rather unusual record in delivering punctiliously the relief supplies for war prisoners in Germany. Whether the particular German officials who established this record will have the strength to prevail over present less organized conditions remains to be seen."

The document also had a sidebar "Camp Movements" that noted the movement of camps westward away from the zone of combat of the advancing Red Army, and cited the obligation of Germany to move folks under Article 7 of the 1929 Geneva Convention. Many had to be moved on foot it said, which presumeably also applies to civilian camps.

On page 11 of the same issue:

"Innoculations Against Typhus

The U. S. Army Typhus Commission recently supplied the American Red Cross with sufficient typhus vacine to inoculate every American prisoner of war in Germany.

One hundred cartons, each containing 50 vials of 20 cc. of vaccine were flown from the United States to Marseille in the middle of February. From Marseille, the vaccine was sent to the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva, with instructions that it be distributed to camps in which Americans were held.

Those prisoners who have previously been innoculated against typhus are to be given a 'booster' to render their immunity certain. Those not previously treated will be given the required number of innoculations."

I am keeping the original document for another reason. It also lists known locations of Japanese prisoner of war camps, including Niiagata, Japan. That camp housed my biography client, and contained 1,000 allied prisoners of war.

Guess what? Niiagata was one of the alternate targets, if Hiroshima was not in clear weather on August 6th, [1945]. So what, if 1,000 allied POWS were snuffed out!

I was curious if the Red Cross still maintained copies in their archives. Herewith their response.

From: "Thompson, Robert" <>

Our Archives do hold the POW Bulletins for World War II in our American Red Cross collection. Unfortunately we only have one copy. If you are in the general area of Falls Church, Virginia, then you are more than welcome to view our bulletins. If not then we can only Xerox you a copy of them. Rob Thompson (703) 813-5381

We thank Website visitor Bill Boas for the above information

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