Camp Reports – Parchim

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 of the Camp for Prisoners of War at Parchim by Dr. A.R. Taylor and Dr. D. J. McCarthy on May 12, 1916

Inasmuch as the plan and organisation of this camp has already been detailed, the report of a visit made by Mr. Jackson on June 9, 1915, it will not be necessary to consider them here.

At the present time, there are 2900 men detained here. The camp has a capacity of 25000. Of the 2900 prisoners in camp 37 are British; of those, 33 are soldiers and 4 are civilians.

Attached to this parent camp there are 25 British detailed, in working camps on neighbouring farms.

A complete inspection of the camp was made. Our visit was unannounced and we were given full liberty to talk privately with non-commissioned officers and men.

The British prisoners are not housed together. They are distributed in various barracks as a matter of choice. They stated that they preferred the present arrangement rather than to be given a barrack where they would all be together.

The barracks are 30 x 12 x 9 feet. with eight windows. They are exceptionally clean and at the present time from 19 to 25 men are housed in each barrack. The beds are of the cot type with straw mattresses, in good condition and with sufficient covering.

All the British prisoners had sufficient good clothing, shoes, underwear, etc.

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The four non-commissioned officers are housed in a, room by themselves.

The kitchens of the camp are distributed through-out the enclosure in a unit arrangement with the barracks. A number of kitchens are now closed since the number of prisoners at present confined is small compared to the capacity of the camp. the several kitchens contain four, six or eight large kettles. We inspected the kitchens now in operation. They are manned by cooks selected from among the prisoners and were found to be in clean and orderly condition. The food provided for the prisoners of different nationalities is identical; the foodstuffs furnished the French prisoners are cooked by them in accordance with their taste, while the food for the Russian, Servian and British prisoners is cooked according to German taste. The food of the midday meal (and also sometimes the evening meal) is prepared in the form of a thick soup; so far as we could observe, the differences in the two types of cooking consist in greater dilution and different flavouring by the French. The menus for each day follow in general the April diet list of the War Ministry (the May diet sheet not being as yet available), except that a greater variety of vegetables is employed. The menu for the fish day, on which we visited the camp, was as follows:

BREAKFAST:           Bread. tea. sugar and jam

DINNER:                    Salt fish and salt roe, potatoes, Ruben (three varieties. mixed), Onions, Soja meal, and bread.

EVENING MEAK      Barley. Soja meal, potatoes, asparagus, Liebigwurzel and bread.

The fact of the serving of fresh asparagus in abundant amount to so large a group of men, illustrates not only

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the greater freedom in selection of fresh foodstuffs possible in Mecklanburg but also the forethought of the authorities.

The Colonel in charge of the camp stated to us that he had had no difficulties in securing for his camp the stated ration of fresh meat (300 grams per week) authorised by the diet sheet. We ate of the food prepared for the midday meal and found it well flavoured and agreeable.

The bread used in the camp is made in the camp bakery, which now furnishes about 1700 loaves daily. This bread (the K.K. Bread, which is one of the two specified and authorised varieties of war bread) is made of rye meal and fresh potato mash in the proportion of 15 parts flour to twelve parts potato mush by weight. After baking, the bread is allowed to stand five days before being used. We visited the bakery, which was in full operation. We found the several procedures in the making of the broad conducted in an orderly and cleanly manner. The finished bread was stored in a dean room and the loaves served out to the men on that day were a good sample of the war bread.

We also inspected the storehouse for foods stuffs, in which we found stores of flour, dried peas, dried and tinned fish, sardines, barley, potatoes and margarine.

The storerooms were dry, clean, free of any abnormal odor; the different foodstuffs were found to be in good condition and of good quality. It was apparent to us that the Commandant in charge of the camp was personally familiar with every detail of the subsistence, from the initial foodstuffs to the finished meal.

The control and distribution of packages received In this camp has been worked out in a most efficient manner.

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Packages arc received partly by parcels post as individual packages. In large part, however, they are collected at the border into larger containers and brought in by fast freight. On being brought into camp every package is checked off as received by a representative of the authorities. The packages for the different nationalities are then turned over to committees for individual distribution. The camp possesses a card catalogue of its prisoners, kept up to date each day, so that the exact whereabouts of each prisoner, whether in barrack, hospital, or outside of the camp engaged in agricultural labour and living upon a farm, is known. Each nationality has its own distribution committee. In the case of the British prisoners, the head of this committee is the ranking non-commissioned officer, the packages as received from the camp officer are checked off by the receiving committees and the distribution thereafter effected on the basis of the card catalogue of prisoners. Apparently the most efficient men in the map officiate on these committees and it is thus possible to control, and trace, any package from the moment of its delivery at the railway station to its reception by the prisoner to whom it is addressed. Some of the packs gee come in addressed to individuals; others come addressed to the committee for the benefit of the prisoners in general. the welfare committee at the present time is composed of Sergeant Clay, Berry and Wall, the above organisation works out most efficiently not only in the distribution of mall and food packages within the camp, but eliminates delay in the transfer of packages etc. to working camps.

The British prisoners, we were informed by the under

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officer, partake of little of this camp ration. The under officer stated that they regarded the camp fare as wholesome and sufficient, but since they received from home abundant food supplies of things to which they were accustomed, they ate their own food by preference. In this camp all the British food packages received from abroad are pooled for the common use of all the British prisoners. The British prisoners presented the appearances of normal health and weight.

The camp contains abundant facilities for bathing in the form of hot and cold showers. Each prisoner must bathe once weekly. He may bathe as often as he wishes. On the occasion of the compulsory weekly bath, the clothing is disinfected by steam and returned to the men after being dried. All the men questioned stated that they had no complaints to make against the baths, and that ample facilities were offered for laundering their clothes.

The latrines of the camp are located in a unit arrangement to the groups of barracks. They are of the water-containing concrete tank type and are emptied by a portable excavating apparatus each day. The latrines were found in good and satisfactory condition.

There are two hospitals in addition to a combined dispensary and Infirmary. One of these hospitals is within the camp enclosure and a new hospital not as yet occupied some distance outside of the enclosure. The hospitals were inspected and found to be well equipped, well ventilated, clean and the patients well cared for. There were four British in the hospital at the time of our visit. Only one of these was a serious case, J.W Bridges, who has been ill

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for four months with a chronic pleurisy is listed for internment in Switzerland.

J.J. Moore, who has suffered from diabetes for the last two years, is in the camp but not in the hospital. He was rejected by the commission for the uinterment of prisoners in Switzerland.

The men had no complaint to make as to their treatment, quarters, work etc. They expressed a desire that they have a fire to cook their supplies received from home. This matter was taken with the Commandant and his staff.   They stated if the British prisoners preferred to remain separated in different barracks this would be diffuclt to arrange; that they already had a supply of hot water when they needed it and that if some arrangement could be made to meet this wish of the men they would arrange if possible.

The four civilian prisoners in this camp are all members of the same family. They are occupied in the bureau for the registration of prisoners. They have been here for over year and preferred to remain rather than be transferred to the camp for civilians at Ruhleben.



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