prisoners

Jan

21

1943

Dr Mengele intervenes at Auschwitz

21st January 1943: Dr Mengele intervenes at Auschwitz

For this the S.S. had sound reason. When they opened the waggons, the sight was so revolting that they could not face it. So they whipped in the prisoners to handle some of the dirtiest work that even Auschwitz had witnessed. In some of the trucks nearly half the occupants were dead or dying, more than I had ever seen.

Jan

8

1943

Soviets offer ‘Gingerbread or the Whip’

8th January 1943: Soviets offer Stalingrad troops ‘Gingerbread or the Whip’

Your encircled troops are in a grave situation. They are suffering from hunger, sickness and cold. The harsh Russian winter is only just beginning: hard frosts, cold winds and snowstorms are still to come, but your soldiers do not have winter uniforms and are living in unsanitary conditions. You, as commander, and all the officers of the surrounded troops know very well that there is no longer any realistic possibility of breaking through the encirclement.

Jan

3

1943

Survival strategy on the Railway of Death

3rd January 1943: Survival strategy on the Railway of Death

Life accordingly evolved into a blur of continuous work, people dying, guards bellowing, heavy loads to be carried, fever which came in tides of heat and cold on alternate days, dysentery and hunger. All those became the normal. Upon them, occasionally, an event super-imposed itself with suflicient violence to be remembered.

Dec

25

1942

Another Christmas for a war weary World

25th December 1942: Another Christmas for a war weary World

There was some carol singing last night and this moming. One can’t but feel a certain melancholy at spending Christmas in this depressing camp. An almost intolerable sense of oppression and futility overcomes one at times, as month after wasted month passes. At this time, of course, one thinks much of home, and one realises they must be going through a period of anxiety. And there are many at home who have yet to learn that their relatives out here are already dead.

Dec

21

1942

Struggle to survive on the Railway of Death

21st December 1942: Struggle to survive on the Railway of Death

At first he did not question that they were diphtheria cases; but he said that he had no antitoxin and that as Thailand was so backward he could not get any. This is obviously nonsense – there is a famous Pasteur Institute in Bangkok not far away. But Nobusawa was clearly not going to bother himself about it.

Dec

13

1942

Conditions deteriorate inside the Stalingrad cauldron

13th December 1942: Conditions deteriorate inside the Stalingrad cauldron

The shelling gradually flattened our positions, which had to be improved. Where could we get building timber? For us and many others, the wooden houses in the suburbs were the only supply of wood, and only daily hunts, which also brought in many other useful things, gave relief; a packet of long nails, wire, and white flare rounds, which I traded for my cigarettes, ensured friendly faces in the position at evening.

Dec

10

1942

New work – in the Auschwitz gas chambers

10th December 1942: New work – in the Auschwitz gas chambers

We were lined up in front of the house. Moll arrived and told us we would work here at burning old and lousy people, that we would be given something something to eat and in the evening we would be taken back to the camp. He added that those who did not accept the work would be beaten and have the dogs set on them. The SS who escorted us were accompanied by dogs. Then he split us into a number of groups. I myself and eleven others were detailed, as we learnt later, to remove the bodies from this cottage.

Dec

8

1942

Hunger in a PoW labour camp in Thailand

8th December 1942: Hunger in a PoW labour camp in Thailand

I had had this tick fever for 2 days and didn’t go sick for I was sweating on the holiday allowing me to recover but the Nips held a big check roll-call at 10 a.m. and I am afraid, for the first time in my army career I fainted and had to be carried off. Of course their food for the last few days has been bad even for this place and I suppose that had something to do with it also.

Nov

28

1942

Romanian prisoners are escorted off the battlefield

28th November 1942: Romanian prisoners are escorted off the battlefield

On the roads lie helmets decorated with the Romanian royal coat of arms, thousands of cartridges, grenades, rifles. A Romanian strongpoint. A mountain of empty, sooty cartridges by the machine-gun nest. White sheets of writing paper are lying in the communication trench. The brown winter steppe has turned brick red from blood. There are rifles with butts splintered by Russian bullets. And crowds of prisoners are moving towards us all the time.

Nov

18

1942

British insight into the German military machine

18th November 1942: British insight into the German military machine

Recently 80 new Italian tanks had been left standing near the port of unloading for want of fuel. The tragedy was not as great as it seemed, inasmuch as the tanks were badly designed and constructed and practically worthless for modern war. He had told the Italians that 80 tins of sardines would have suited him better. Were it not for the fuel and supplies obtained in Tobruk, the position of the German and Italian armies in the desert would have become acute some months ago.