Sixteen Months in Four German Prisons eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 357 pages of information about Sixteen Months in Four German Prisons.

This incident and unwarranted savagery, although born of “nerves,” sickened and also roused those of us who had seen it.  Seeing that the soldier was quite unarmed the sentry might have used the butt end of his weapon just as satisfactorily.  But no!  It was a swine of an Englaender who had infringed the rule and the bayonet was the instrument for correction, to be plied with the utmost effect.

Seeing the desperate condition of the British wounded and the inhuman manner in which they were treated one might naturally conclude that they would have died off like flies.  Sennelager has the most evil reputation among the German prison camps for systematic brutality and unprecedented ferocity.  But to levy such an accusation is to bring an immediate German denial.  In reply they turn to the official reports and retort that conditions could not possibly be so terrible as they are painted, otherwise the camp would be certain to reveal a high mortality.  On the other hand the death-rate at Sennelager is strikingly low, and the German officials smile contentedly while the Press comforts itself smugly.

The presentation of the low death-rate is even likely to arouse doubt in the minds of the unsophisticated British at home.  They are not versed in German cunning.  Sennelager camp carries a low death-rate for the simple reason that a prisoner is not permitted to die there.  When a man has been reduced to a hopeless condition and his demise appears imminent he is hurriedly sent off to some other place, preferably a hospital, to die.  By a slice of luck he might cheat Death, in which event, upon his recovery, he is bundled off to another prison.  But he seldom, if ever, comes back to Sennelager!  During my period of incarceration only one man, B——­, who was sent to Paderborn hospital to die as the Germans thought, but who recovered, returned to Sennelager.  When a man was hastened out of the camp in this manner we never knew his fate.  It became a by-word that few men went from Sennelager but none returned.  Consequently, whenever we saw a sick case leave the camp we surmised that the poor wretch was making his final journey to the Great Beyond.  We assumed his speedy death from natural causes—­as the German authorities would relate—­to be inevitable.



Although we British prisoners, both civilian and military, constituted the principal butt for the spleen of Major Bach, we never raised the slightest audible complaint or protest, although inwardly and in the seclusion of our barracks we chafed at the unrelenting tyranny to which we were exposed and against which we were completely helpless.  In strict accordance with the instructions of the Commandant we were always the last to receive attention.  If we ever had to go to the hospital to receive any treatment and were the first to arrive at its doors, we had to kick our heels outside and possess ourselves in patience as best we could until all the prisoners of other nationalities had seen the surgeon.  As a rule we had a lost journey.  The surgeon in his haste to get away either would notify us that our cases could not receive enquiry until the morrow, or he would treat us in a perfunctory manner.

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Sixteen Months in Four German Prisons from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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