Camp Reports – Hameln

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 an Inspection at the Detention Camp at Hameln by Dr. E.A. Taylor and Dr. D. J. McCarthy on May 20, 1916.

A full description of the plan and organisation of this camp has already been made and the report submitted by Mr. Michaelson.

After a consultation at the Kommandantur in the town of Hameln and his Adjutant we were escorted to the camp outside of the town by an officer representing the Kommandant and through the camp by this officer and the commanding officer in charge of this camp.

We first made an inspection of the kitchens, two of which now in operation were visited. The kitchens were found in a clean and orderly condition, manned by cooks, taken from among the ranks of the prisoners who work under supervision of two under officers. The subsistence department is under the direct administration of the military authorities of the camp. The menu for the day was as follows:

Breakfast: Bread, Cocca and Sugar

Dinner: Beef with potatoes and salted green string beans

Supper: Boiled potatoes and sausage (Dauerwurst)

The bread ration for the day is 300 grams, the bread is not baked in camp but obtained from outside sources. The food prepared for the noon meal presented a good appearance. We partook of the food and found it to be well flavoured and palatable. Two small bottles of beer were served on Sunday.


We visited the store houses of the camp in which were found large amounts of unperishable food supplies. The store houses were clean, dry and free of abnormal odor. The men stated on direct questioning that the food supplies sent to them from Great Britain


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Britain and Switzerland were sufficient to cover practically their entire needs. The food packages were promptly delivered to the camp, and in good condition. When the question was addressed to the group of British prisoners, whether any, and if so how many, had taken the camp food the day before, we received the reply that none had done so, and that none intended to partake of the food that was to be served on the noon of our visit. Repeated questioning only confirmed the reply that, as a rule, the food provided by the camp was not taken by the men, except in particular instances, as for example when boiled potatoes were served.

At the present time 207 British are in this camp.

Our visit was unannounced and we were given full opportunity to converse with the men outside of the hearing of the camp authorities. The men were drawn up for inspection at the time of our visit, arid the ranking N.C.O. here was Thomas Davis, Wiltshire Regiment. He reported for his men, that they were well treated by the officers and under-officers and had no serious cause for complaint. The men themselves were then asked, whether they had any request or complaint to make. Private Drane requested that something should be done for the stiffness and deformity resulting from an old wound of the ankle. Inasmuch as this would however, require operative interference, and inasmuch as at the present time the wound was healed and he was able to walk without much difficulty, we considered any immediate interference undesirable. The men requested that some arrangement should be made for cooking the material received in their parcels from home. This matter was taken up with the camp authorities who promised to consider the matter. Some of the had men stated that they had malaria, but were at the present time free from disease. They stated that on account of this they would be unable to work in the sun, In hot weather. This matter

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Matter was also called to the attention of the camp authorities. There are at the present time retained as civil prisoners in this camp the officers of the ships of the Mercantile Marine, taken prisoners by the “Möwe”. We were told that they were considered as quasi military prisoners, on account of their official position as commanding officers in the Mercantile Marine, and for that reason had not been transferred to Münden, with the other civil prisoners previously detained at this camp. There was no complaint made as to their treatment.

After the men were dismissed from inspection, we visited the different barracks, where the men were housed. The men were distributed in barracks Nos.61, 33, 6 and 79. The barracks were 50 x 50 x 12 feet, with 4 windows. They were clean and well ventilated. The beds were of the bunk type, a single tier on the floor along the side of the barrack, and a double tier in the middle. The mattresses were filled with dried leaves, and while they did not appear as satisfactory as the usual straw mattresses. they were, according to the statements of the men, satisfactory. There was sufficient bed covering, and on account of the small number of men detained in the camp at the present time, no overcrowding. There are at the present time 3000 men in this camp. The comp has the capacity of 14000.

The hospital camp was then inspected and was found to be in good condition, clean, well ventilated, and the men apparently well cared for. There were at the time of our visit four British confined to the hospital:

Private Cronen, with a diagnose of fracture of the right thigh,

McDonald, Kings Own Yorkshire Light Infantry, rheumatism,

Newby, Durham Light Infantry, pulmonary tuberculosis,

Featherstone, Rifle Brigade, insane.

The latrines were of the trench type, built of concrete and cleaned once a week. Upon the day of inspection, they

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Presented but a small contents, the floor was clean, and the building free from excessive odor.

Bathing facilities in the form of shower baths were available and could be used as often as the men desired. A compulsory bath once a week was insisted upon as a camp regulation. Sixteen showers mere available, draining into a concrete [base?].   In the same building a large room was available as a dressing room and a disinfectant plant for disinfection of clothes etc. The men when questioned stated that they had no complaints to make either to baths or to latrines.

On our inspection of the different barracks we found in barrack No.33 some 14 men were just being released from a period of arrest of two weeks. This matter was further investigated. We found that the men had been placed under arrest for refusing to work. The statement of the men was to the effect that they had refused to work, because they considered the work assigned to them as contributing to the welfare of the enemy. When questioned to the exact nature of the work, it was found that they had refused to work in a flour mill, in a factory for tinning vegetables, and in a salt works. The men stated that they had no complaint to make as to farm work, or as to their treatment while doing farm work, that they considered however the milling of flour and the tinning of fruits as a direct preparation of army rations. In reference to the salt works they based their objection to this on the ground that they considered the salt to be salt petre and therefore of use for the manufacture of ammunition. Dr. Taylor who is in a position to have authorative information on the subject, stated to the men that there were no salt petre mines in Germany, and that the German salt deposits contained no salt petre. The men, however, refused to accept this statement. They stated that, while the food in farms was as a rule satisfactory, in the industrial plants, where they have been assigned


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assigned to work, the food was unsatisfactory, It was decided, however, to leave this question and other conditions in working camps in this district for a separate Investigation and report.

Inasmuch as a statement was made by this group of men, that some British prisoners were still under arrest in the camp, a visit was made to the prison barracks. A careful Investigation failed to reveal the presence of any British under arrest.

The field next to the camp enclosure is used for football and other sports. In addition to this the men are taken out from time to time for tramping trips in the surrounding hill country, which in this district is very attractive.




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