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French Treatment of Axis Prisoners


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#1 Elven6

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Posted 18 August 2009 - 07:41 PM

I was reading the story of Hans Klein a few days ago, a member of Afrika Korps who was taken prisoner by the French and later Americans. I'm speechless as to describing the French treatment so I will let Klein,

Hans Klein Recalls His Time in Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Korps » HistoryNet (It is 3 pages long so don't forget to the other 2 pages which also describe conditions)

As you may be aware, I try my best to not generalize. Were conditions like this common among the Free French Forces? Were they ever put on trials for what at first glance seems like a war crime?

I remember the treatment of civillians by the French during the war was discussed in a thread about why the French did not want "colored troops" to enter Paris, but was it really this bad?
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#2 ADM199

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Posted 19 August 2009 - 01:19 PM

Hi,
some time ago I was looking at Files regarding the treatment of P.O.W. in Libya.

The Italians were treating allied P.O.W. very poorly at the main Camp at Benghazi in 1942. They were ill fed,ill sheltered and very poorly treated. The late Cpl.Bill Mackie, who I knew personally,lost 30% of his body weight during the time he was in transit. The Italians said as they were in Transit they were only entitled to half rations. Some were in"Transit" 5 - 6 months. This was after the Axis had captured the huge dumps of food and Medical supplies at Tobruck. A South African Doctor working with the P.O.W. estimated that between June and September 67 men died in Hospital directly from lack of drugs that the Italians were known to have.
Outbreaks of Dysentery and Dyptheria were of epidemic proportion.So much so the Camp was condemned by a Sanitary Commission and was replace with one built about 400yds away.This was September 1942. Anything of value such as Money,Gold Rings, Watch's and fountain Pens were taken from the Prisoners without receits being given.
The French P.O.W. were considered to be irregular Forces due to Frances Capitulation,and were treated even worse.
Members of the Indian Army were made to work up to 16hrs a day unloading War Materials at the Docks. Several were killed due lack of shelter during Air Raids.
Some of those attempting to escape were chained to the Barbed Wire Crucifix fashion for 24hrs with no water.
It was pretty much the same at the P.O.W. Camps in the Tripoli area.

Brian
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#3 Elven6

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Posted 23 August 2009 - 10:59 PM

To a certain extent, the Italians had troubling feeding and taking care of the civillian population, the same or even worse conditions awaited Italian soldiers. Prisoners not getting food or other supplies to a certain extent is explainable since the soldiers taking care of them were living under similar conditions.

Beyond that, soldiers stealing from the prisoners as you described could possibly be them wanting to survive by taking from the other guy. What they did was still no right and the odds are they were punished for it after the war. I was asking if similar punishments awaiting Allied or more specifically French troops who would do such things.

After reading up on "victors justice" accusations I have a feeling these people "roamed free" after the war with little to no consequences.
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#4 ADM199

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 10:14 AM

As I said in North Africa huge dumps of food and Medical supplies had been captured towards the end of June.
There was no excuse for the starvation diet Allied P.O.W. were on.
The Italians ate much better. Some ex P.O.W. spoken to have thought that it was a deliberate ploy to break them physically and mentally.
The Germans seemed to be always apologising to prisoners for having to turn them over to the Italians.

Perhaps the Royal Navy's success against the Italian Merchant Fleet in the Mediterranean meant that many thousand were in "Transit" for so long,but sufficient food and Medication was available.

There appears to have been little Red Cross presence in Lybia except at PG 12545 to the West of Tripoli which existed from mid 1941 and was closed some time in 1942. This Camp was run by the Germans.
Italian North African Camp hierarchy seem never to have been tried for War Crimes as many disappeared.
Capt. Palermo Commandant of the main Camp at Benghazi was wanted but never found. Capt.Felice Vismara who Commanded the Camp to the North at the Oasis of Koefia was held in the London Cage until 1947 when it was decided there was not enough evidence against him. He had filled in for Palermo for a few weeks from the beginning of September.
Another Italian Officer who disappeared Gerardo Magaldi who was wanted by the British,Greeks and the Jugoslavs.

Perhaps as the Italians capitulated there wasn't the will to prosecute any other than those who had committed the worste Crimes.
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#5 Elven6

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 03:31 PM

Ahh I see now why you were mentioning Italians, because they switched sides later! Never clicked in at first until now. :lol:

But even then, not all Italians fighting with the Axis were given a "free pass" to the Allied side. Excluding the Italians, were other Allied forces tried for these type of conditions?
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#6 ADM199

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 03:53 PM

I did read a file containing the courtmartial of one Italian Camp commander.

Three Officers escaped from the camp but were quickly caught.
They were then forced to show the commander how they had got out of the camp. Whilst doing so two were shot dead as they were"attempting to Escape".
General Nicola Bellomo was tried,convicted and executed for the two officers deaths.

The French when in German camps appear to have had much easier times than those who were taken later fighting with the "Free French" in North Africa.
As I have said they were treated as irregular troops that the Geneva Convention didn't protect. All well documented.

Victors are never found guilty of War Crimes.
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#7 Elven6

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Posted 24 August 2009 - 03:56 PM

What other French troops were fighting other than the Free French Forces?
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