Camp Reports – Dysotz

Transcript from copy held at US National Archives.

Source Document: US National Archives Washington (NARA) ; RG 84 Records of Foreign Service Posts ; Diplomatic Posts – Great Britain – Volume 0763

Report of Dr. A.E.Taylor, Dr. Karl Ohnesorg and Dr. D.J. McCarthy of an Inspection of the Prisoners of War Camp at Dysotz.


This camp was re-inspected on Tuesday, April 25th. The re-inspection was incidental however. to the main purpose of our visit, namely, to take up certain matters considered below in reference to working camps attached to this parent camp. 4448 man are attached to this camp, of which 3204 are at the present time detailed in working camps. 754 British are attached to this camp, of which 426 are in the camp at the present time, the remainder in working camps.

In as much as this camp has already “been reported, it will not he necessary to describe in detail the location, organisation etc. It may be mentioned however that a large plot of ground adjacent to the camp is at the present time under cultivation for growing vegetables for the camp.

The prisoners of the camp are detailed for this work. The camp is large and there is plenty of free area for football, athletic contests etc.

The kitchens, bathing establishment, disinfection plant, cantine, hospital, latrines, etc. were all carefully inspected and found to be in good condition.

The British prisoners are at the present time lodged in two large barracks. These barracks are of the newer type i.e. with high ceilings, double level roof, with roof lighting and ventilation. the barracks are approximately 150 feet long by 50 feet wide, the well height at side 12 feet, the centre 18 feet. There are 4 large windows on either side

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wall, and 4 semi-gable skylights. The bunks are arranged along the wall in a double tier, with centre corridor. The bed space takes up 2/3 of the floor space, the central corridor area 1/3. The bedding is the usual straw mattresses, blankets. All the British were housed together, their barracks were clean, well aired, and the men had no complaints to make as to their quarters. Each barrack was found to house 438 men. At the present time there are 160 British in one barrack, 110 in another, 80 in another etc. ,

The prisoners may bathe two days a week. Compulsory bathing once a week is enforced. Bi-monthly weight records are kept of all prisoners, taken at the bath time when the prisoners are stripped.

Food. The diet slips in the kitchen conformed to the regulation food prescribed for prisoners of war camps.

While the British relied mainly on their packages from home, they took the prison food on certain days, and practically always took the boiled potatoes. They stated that the bread at this camp was Very good for black bread. but that they relied almost entirely on the wheat bread sent them from the outside.

Clothing. All the men had a sufficient supply of clothing. underwear, etc. and had good shoes.

Mall. Letters were received fairly promptly and no complaint was made as to packages etc.

A library exists in the camp, and books from this are sent to the various working camps, where the number of men warrant it.

Religious services are held regularly, the services read by one of the men, and the Rev. H.M. Williams visits the camp

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from time to time. He had been to the camp on Monday, April 24, to hold service and administer communion.

One of the barracks is used for a theatre where performances are given. The British have taken no active part in the theatricals.

The British N.C.Os were quartered together in one end of one of these large barracks where other British prisoners wars also housed. They requested that quarters apart from their men be given them and mention of this was made to the Commandant.

In a report on the working camp at a Rubbish Sorting Plant (Müllverwalung) at Boetzow submitted by Surgeon Karl Ohnesorg and Dr D.J. McCarthy, attention was called to the poor quarters for the men, lack of preparation for their reception, more particularly in relation to bedding etc., complaints of the men as to their food, the disagreeable nature of the work, etc. Representations were made as to all of these at the time to the director of the works. This matter was called to the attention of the Commandant of the camp both in this relation, and more particularly because we found that 6 of the men including one corporal who had been detained to this working camp, had been returned and were under arrest at the camp at Dyrots. The Commandant stated that the men had been dilatory in their work, and that an Interpreter had been sent to them, that the regulations as to work had been read to the men, and that any Infraction of these rules would be followed by disciplinary punishment. The interpreter, who we found, understood, and spoke English perfectly, had asked the men whether they understood the regulations and that they had replied that they did, that notwithstanding this, the men had failed to observe these rules, and that they were withdrawn to the parent camp and placed in confinement for seven


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day, on bread and water with a full camp ration on the fourth day. The men when questioned stated that they on their part had obeyed stated that they on their part had obeyed the regulations and as far they could see, were withdrawn because they were unable to that amount of work the camp authorities had had decided was a days work, namely 2 men to unload a car as a day’s work. These men were confined in a small building behind the lazaret which had been erected to serve as a mortuary but had never been employed for this purpose. The building was constructed of boards, the floor space approximately 8’ x 8’ with a gabled roof 10’ high. Over the door was a window which had been closed with black tar paper. The only ventilation possible was through the cracks between the boards. When the German N.C.O. was asked why the window was closed he replied that darkness was one of the specified conditions of the state of ‘arrest’. It was then suggested that the window could be darken and still left open for ventilation since it did not appear to us that under the conditions of space present proper ventilation could not be secured for six men. No blankets or mattresses were to be furnished than save on the day which they received their full ration. The door was locked and a sentry posted outside the building.

The camp interpreter, a German N.C.O. stated to one of us Dr Taylor that some of these men under arrest had been selected for assignment to this particular working camp because they had refused to do work within the Dyrots camp assigned to them.

The Commandant informed us that this building was used for their confinement because the camp “Arrestanstalt” was occupied by other prisoners.

We visited the camp Arrestanstalt and found one British

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Prlsoner confined there. He was undergoing seven day’s solitary confinement on bread and water with a full ration on the third day for escaping from a working camp at Gross Ziehen. Thls working camp was visited on April18, 1916 by Drs McCarthy and Ohnesorg and reported upon, The prisoner now confirmed the statement submitted on the report that working camp were satisfactory and that he had no valid reasons for leaving and desired to be reassigned there. This prisoner did not impress us as having full normal Intelligence.

The Arrestanstalt consists of eight cells placed at one end of the guard house. The individual cell was a room approximately 6′ x 4’ with a wooden bunk which folded up and could be used as a seat.

The Commandant informed us that it was his intention to visit the working camp at Boetzow (the rubbish sorting plant) on the following day. He stated to us, that realising the disagreeable nature of the work, he had informed the group of prisoners of war detailed for this working camp that they would ha kept there for a period of time at the outside of six weeks, He further stated that the six man under arrest would he returned to this working camp when they had served their term of punishment.

Karl Ohnesorg, Taylor, McCarthy

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