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#1 W.P. Sullivan

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Posted 22 February 2013 - 10:50 PM

I'm a new guy to this forum, but I have conducted a lot of research in the subject of Internee and Evadee in the ETO particurly Switzerland. (in fact, this subject is what initially drew me to the "WW2Talk" website.)

In my study and interviews, I still encounter veterans and their families trying to enlist my support for American internees to be awarded the POW medal.
  • I hold some of them suspect for seeking upgrades to benefits & recognition (e.g. Veterans Adminstration medical ratings, or eleigiblity to secure special POW license plates).
  • Some of them are well-meaning. I've encouraged them to research the US Dept or Defense regulationas and recent Congressional record for what constitutes PRISONER of war status.
For the record, let me acknowlege there's a case for most of the 160+ internees American held prisoner in a Swiss punishment camp. That is a different issue than the 1,600+ American internees who were held in Swiss hotels, country hostels and municipal buildings in Switzerland.

After scanning this forum, I'll add it to my resources list. I've already printed out some of the grim posts of stories of real POW's who suffered and died as true prisoners, not as internees sitting out the war in a hotel.

~ W.P. Sullivan ~


Also for the record, my cousin was wounded by flak on a bombing raid over Hamburg and - despite excellent medical care in a Swedish hospital - died while his crew was interned in Sweden. His mother and our family would NOT equate his internship as POW status.

Carry on.

Edited by W.P. Sullivan, 22 February 2013 - 10:53 PM.
correct typo's

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#2 RemeDesertRat

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 07:00 AM

Thats interesting, why were some held in punishment camps and not others?
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#3 W.P. Sullivan

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 11:56 AM

Thats interesting, why were some held in punishment camps and not others?

The subject of Allied internees in punishment camps is very touchy subject because not every American in the punishment camps was considered "interned" -- some were considered criminals for violations of Swiss laws, as well as for violating conditions of internship to which internees were expected to comply as a condition of continuing internship in Switzerland.

Some internees assigned to punishment camps have successfully petitioned to have the Dept. of Defense amend their DD Form 214 to reflect that he was a POW instead of an internee. For an internee to have his DD Form 214 amended, the appellant must present substantive and relevant evidence to demonstrate:
(a.) the existence of error or injustice
(b.) that he adhered to the conditions of internship and orders of the U.S. Military Attache
(c.) that committed no infractions of Swiss law.

Evidence of generalized personal sacrifice which an applicant endured in the service for his country is not a basis for automatic status change and result in a revision of DD Form 214.

There were approximately 1,600 American airmen interned in Switzerland during WW II. An Allied combatant who sought asylum in (or escaped/evaded to) Switzerland was classified an "internee" if .....
(a.) he accepted paroled Internship status and sat out the balance of hostilities unless dutifully exchanged by the Military Attache in Bern,
(b.) continued to follow the rules of internship while waiting,
(c.) obeyed all Swiss civil and municipal laws & ordinances while interned.

Otherwise, the Swiss classified them the same as what we would consider undocumented illegal aliens: "non-citizens entering Switzerland without securing authorization." ('les non-citoyens entrant dans la Suisse sans protéger l'autorisation.')

There were between 200-300 internees (Allied and Axis) "apprehended during the act of (or attempt to) escape internship." This violated the terms of parole and internment.

Switzerland maintained "punishment camps" for non-military criminals, and non-residents who broke Swiss law, including any Allied combatants who had been stripped of internee status for:
(a.) violating terms of parole and internment, including (but not limited to) trying to escape or encouraging/aiding others to violate the terms of internment.
(b.) Breaking Swiss criminal laws (drunk/disorderly, assault, rape, theft, destruction of property, etc. which also violated their terms of internship.)

In punishment for what the Swiss thus considered criminal acts, Allied internees were stripped of internee status and sent to punishment camps like Straflager Wauwilermoos as non-citizens who had entered Switzerland without authorization, these former-internees were not "entitled" to what Americans would consider a comprehensive trial at that time. About 160 (or so) Americans were incarcerated in Swiss punishment camps.

Even though its Commandant, Captain Andre Beguin, was condemned, convicted and dishonorably discharged by the Swiss government of administrative misdemeanors, embezzlement, and withholding inmate complaints, these circumstances do not make the inmates in his straflager "POW's."

Today, the same legalese tap-dancing goes on, but the dancing shoes are on the other feet. The G.H.W. Bush Administration cited the same legal standards to justify not granting habeas corpus or any trial (as a U.S. citizen would expect) to War-On-Terror persons-of-interest and suspects being held in Europe or Gitmo.

........ and no, I am not equating Allied internees to terrorists, nor do I diminish their service to the Allied cause.
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#4 Varasc

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 01:36 PM

Quite interesting. I tried to access the ICRC archives in Geneva but they were too expensive. I am looking for several prisoners who escaped, or tried to escape in Switzerland. May I ask you if you have access to whatever possible Swiss entry archive, concerning these prisoners?

Very kind regards and thanks for sharing, I was not aware of the Swiss punishment camps, only of the more common internment ones.

Marco
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Marco

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#5 Dave55

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 01:47 PM

Nice thread.

Were there many Axis internees and where they co mingled with allied ones? I think they were housed in the same camps in Ireland but I'm not sure.
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#6 Son of POW-Escaper

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 03:20 PM

Very interesting thread indeed, and one that has not gotten much press of which I am aware. During my father's two big breakouts (from a moving train between Oflag X C at Lubeck and Oflag VI B at Warburg, and also out of a tunnel from Oflag XXI B at Schubin, Poland), he was headed for the Swiss border. Recaptured both times; in the train station at Frankfurt, and on a train just arriving at Hannover (his hometown).

I wonder if he was aware of the two possible fates had he succeeded in making it across the Swiss frontier? Somehow 1) I doubt it, and 2) it would not have mattered to him.

Marc
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Marc H. Stevens

Author of 'Escape, Evasion and Revenge: The True Story of a German-Jewish RAF Pilot Who Bombed Berlin and Became a POW'. Proud son of the subject of my book, one of only 69 members of the RAF to be awarded the Military Cross in WW2. For more info, visit www.marchstevens.com

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Edmund Burke (1729-97)

#7 W.P. Sullivan

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 07:44 PM

Quite interesting. I tried to access the ICRC archives in Geneva but they were too expensive. I am looking for several prisoners who escaped, or tried to escape in Switzerland. May I ask you if you have access to whatever possible Swiss entry archive, concerning these prisoners?

Very kind regards and thanks for sharing, I was not aware of the Swiss punishment camps, only of the more common internment ones.

Marco

I regret that all of my resources are oriented towards U.S. interned personnel. the focus of my research was on U.S. air crews and soldiers interned in Switzerland. Most of my documents were obtained from American sources.

I've made two trips to Switzerland during which I conducted research. It was a FASCINATING experience to hear the Swiss perspective! The Swiss press archives are full of accounts of U.S. bombing/strafing raids of Swiss cities, trains, rail yards and industrial areas, and of shoot-downs of Allied aircraft deemed to be violating the 1907 Hague Convention (relative to Respecting the Rights and Duties of Neutral Powers and Persons in Case of War on Land.) The Swiss officials were far less helpful and not really impressed by my scholarly pursuits ....

I did stumble across references regarding some internees of Axis nations/allies. I deduce that there were at least 2,000 of them in Switzerland, because when the U.S. Legation (led by Brigadier Gen. Barnwell R. Legge, Military Attaché to Switzerland and Sam E. Woods, American Consul-General to Switzerland) and the German Legation agreed to exchange at least that many internees before V-E day. (Interesting note: at one point in 1944, the Americans had almost 800 personnel who were eager to be exchanged, but the German attache could not convince a matching number of German internees willing to leave asylum in Switzerland to return to the Fatherland.)

I am aware that there were a long series of diplomatic protests that Germans who broke parole or Swiss law were treated much more favorably after being imprisoned in Wauwilermoos punishmant camp, which was located near Lucerne, about 42km south of the German border. Run by the Swiss Army, the camp housed military internees of various nationalities, including Poles, Italians, French, English, Germans, Yugoslavs, Greeks, and Americans. From 1941-1945, Wauwilermoos was under the command of Swiss Army Capt. André Béguin, a politically controversial figure who bore much of the blame for the uneven level of treatment of Allied and Axis personnel. The commandant had a checkered past, as he was previously a member of National Union in Geneva, an anti-Semitic and pro-Nazi political party which was a popular fascist movement in Switzerland during the period. In 1937 he was arrested for illegally wearing a Nazi “party uniform” to a political rally in Yverdon. He moved to Munich in 1938, where he openly professed allegiance to Germany and signed his correspondence with “Heil Hitler,” a fact that later came back to haunt him at his court-martial in 1946

The Allied internees suffered under Béguin’s charge. Axis personnel received much better treatment. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), found that punishment of Allied internees at the camp were “contrary to international conventions.” (Inspection report of Col. Auguste Rilliet, “Rapport sur les plaints concernant le camp disciplinaire de Wauwilermoos,” dated 16 JUL 1945, SFA, Box E5791, 1000/949, Vol. 740. ) In 1946, Béguin was convicted by a court-martial of thirteen violations of the Swiss Military Penal Code, including fraud, embezzlement, bribery, abuse of authority, forgery, and disobedience. The court sentenced him to 3.5 years in prison and expelled him from the Swiss Army with no rights to pension or benefits. (Schweizerische Eidgenossenschaft Urteil das Divisionsgericht 8 im Straffalle des Hptm. André Béguin, dated 20 FEB 1946, SFA, Box E5330, 1975/95, Vol. 1945/2918I, p. 110-12.)

NOTE: PROF. DWIGHT MEARS of the US Military College at West Point is the source of much of this info.)

Edited by W.P. Sullivan, 23 February 2013 - 08:04 PM.
correct several typo's

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#8 W.P. Sullivan

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Posted 23 February 2013 - 08:29 PM

Very interesting thread indeed, and one that has not gotten much press of which I am aware. During my father's two big breakouts (from a moving train between Oflag X C at Lubeck and Oflag VI B at Warburg, and also out of a tunnel from Oflag XXI B at Schubin, Poland), he was headed for the Swiss border. Recaptured both times; in the train station at Frankfurt, and on a train just arriving at Hannover (his hometown).

I wonder if he was aware of the two possible fates had he succeeded in making it across the Swiss frontier? Somehow 1) I doubt it, and 2) it would not have mattered to him.

Marc

Marc: if your dad had been successful made it into Swiss soil, he would be classified as an "evader." Let me try to explain the diplomatic differences between an evader and an interned airman.

Interned airman were of a "belligerent nation" who landed their aircraft in Swiss soil (or in some cases, water) to seek asylum under the terms of the Hague Conferences of 1907 and 1920's. By the Hague Articles, "for them, the war was over" - asylum was granted to them in the non-belligerent nation (a.k.a.: neutral) upon giving their Word of Honor ("en ma parole") that they were to "sit it out" and comport themselves in a civil manner (a.) until dutifully exchanged via their respective legations, or (b.) the cessation of hostilities in that Theater of Operation.
  • Many internees refused to take the Parole Pledge, since trying to get back into the War would be breaking their Word of Honor given when paroled by the Swiss. NON-PAROLED Internees were kept together - under a watchful eye - in separate locations (hotels, modest hostels, old municipal buildings, etc) of the Swiss government. (Note: at times, there was a crushing number of these NON-PAROLED internees as the air war was raging in bloody bombing campaign, while sorting internees and parolees out during the "mad rush" period. Accordingly, conditions weren't indicative of what one might expect from Swiss hotels at times. Brig. Gen. Legge's staff was allowed to monitor and report on sheltering accommodations, medical care, food supply, etc. of these internees. These internees were kept abreast of on-going efforts to repatriate them, and the manner in which the selection process worked - the most war-essential MOS's went first (esp. radar operators, navigators, Intelligence officers, etc.) --- which irritated many who had been there a longer time time than the high priority personnel. )
  • Internees who took the Pledge were granted Paroled status, and were taken at their word that they would wait for exchanges or official repatriation through the efforts of the US Legation, and would be respectful guests of the Swiss people. They had relative freedom and were less closely supervised by the Swiss. They too were part of the repartiation/exchange classification system administered by Gen Legge's staff. In fact, several of them were officially TDA'ed to service for the US Legation Office.
Evaders sought to escape capture or re-capture from enemy forces by crossing into a non-belligerent nation from territory held by a belligerent nation, for which they earned the status of "evadee" under the Geneva Convention.
  • Evaders were not kept in camps or internship housing, and could come and go as they pleased.
  • Although many were fed and/or housed at Swiss expense (at least for a short time), their respective national Legation in Bern and/or the ICRC in Geneva assisted them, and contacted their respective commands and families of their status.
  • Unlike internees who were covered under the Articles of Hague Conferences, there was no punishment for walking OUT of the neutral nation (per Geneva Convention.) However, IF THEY VIOLATED SWISS LAWS while in Switzerland, they indeed could be assigned to punishment camps.

Edited by W.P. Sullivan, 06 March 2013 - 03:59 PM.
corrected some typo's

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#9 Varasc

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Posted 24 February 2013 - 09:51 AM

Thanks indeed Sullivan, very interesting. If you'll ever publish a book on this, well, you already have a sure reader! :-)
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Marco

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#10 Son of POW-Escaper

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Posted 03 March 2013 - 01:09 AM

Many thanks for the clarification, which seems perfectly logical.

Marc
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Marc H. Stevens

Author of 'Escape, Evasion and Revenge: The True Story of a German-Jewish RAF Pilot Who Bombed Berlin and Became a POW'. Proud son of the subject of my book, one of only 69 members of the RAF to be awarded the Military Cross in WW2. For more info, visit www.marchstevens.com

"All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing." Edmund Burke (1729-97)




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