Camp Reports – Wünsdorf

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 Wünsdorf with special reference to food supply and its preparation by Dr. A.E. Taylor and Dr. D.J. McCarthy

In as much as this camp has already been described in previous reports it will be unnecessary to consider this matter in this report. At the present time there are 3400 prisoners of war in this camp of whom 569 are British – divided as follows

Ghurkas 300

Sikhs 100

Mohammedans 106

Thakurs 63

In addition to these, a number of prisoners who were ill had been transferred to the hospital at Zossen.  A routine inspection of the camp was made, the barracks were found in good order, the bedding was satisfactory, the prisoners had sufficient clothes and foot wear and no complaints as to their quarters. The latrines were in good order, clean and satisfactory.  The bathing arrangements were satisfactory, the bath houses, disinfection plant, washing houses, drying buildings etc. in excellent condition.

The hospital for transient cases of illness was clean well lit, well ventilated and in charge of a German surgeon. Both buildings were inspected and found in good condition.

Special attention was paid to the kitchens, the character of the food and preparation.

There are four separate kitchens assigned to the four distinct sects, for the preparation of food in accordance

 

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with their respective rituals. Only one kind of meat is used by them – mutton. The living sheep are turned over to them by the authorities of the camp to be slaughtered in accordance with their religious tenets.

We visited each of these kitchens, observed the preparation of their food and talked with the kitchen men through an interpreter – Sergeant Gui Garen, 1st Battalion Ghurkas – a British non-commissioned officer who acted as interpreter not only here but also throughout our visit through the camp. Opportunity was offered not only in the kitchens but also in the different barracks for conversing with the men out of hearing of the camp officials as to the details of the food, its preparation and other complaints the men cared to make.

The kitchen men were asked whether the food stuffs furnished them were such as conformed to their religion, whether the quantity was sufficient and the quality satisfactory. In every instance we received affirmative replies to these questions. While inspecting the barracks, the different sects, officers and men were questioned concerning the quality and quantity of food furnished. We received but one answer i.e. The food was satisfactory in quality and quantity.

We inspected the store house, which contained the following food stuffs, rice, wheat flour, potatoes, tea, sugar and margarine. All of those were found of satisfactory quality.

The ration of this camp does not follow the official menu of the Mistry of war for prisoners of war. The fined for this camp in accordance with the customs of the prisoners consists daily of

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Rice                grms   200

Wheat flour   “           200

Tea                 “           6

Spices            “           3

Sugar             “           25

Poratoes        “           700

Meat               “           33

Margarine      “           25

Cabbage or similar green vegetable grams 300 (3 or 4 times per week).

Up to 2 weeks ago the ration of sugar and margarine was 50 grams each per diem, and this amount will be restored next week.

The present diet contains approximately

Protein           grams             50

Fat                  Grams            23

Carbohydrate  grams          475

Yielding about 2600 calories. The protein content is low according to occidental standards, it is however not low according to oriental standards and the interpreter stated that the meat ration was as much as the men had been accustomed in their native homes.

The quantities required are weighed out by the camp authorities and turned over to the kitchen men who prepare the food for their members of their sects.

These prisoners do not present appearances suggesting sub-nutrition. They are in good colour and in good flesh. The men are weighed weekly, at the time of their bath, stripped and a record kept of these weights. We inspected these weight records which presented only the fluctuations in body weights normally observed. For example in one barrack

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38 remained constant, 65 lost an average of 1.04 kilo, while 75 gained 1.03 kilo, over a period a month.

On the whole we found the condition in the camp satisfactory and the relations between the military authorities and the prisoners everything to be desired.

Many of the prisoners receive food is packages from Great Britain, on an average once a week. By voluntary agreement these packages containing usally one loaf bread, a small tin of butter and a jar of preserves or table relish, are shared by all the prisoners. Canned meats when received are not used by the prisoners on account of religious objections to meat not prepared according to their ritual.

 

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