Testimony on the situation of the Jewish POWs in the Baumholder camp.
I arrived with an important group of Jewish POWs from the French army at the Baumholder . At arrival the Baumholder camp counted a thousand French army POWs, a few Jewish POWs who were there , were already confined separate barracks. We were also directed to those barracks.
First, like all the French prisoners we wore the KG sign on our clothes, but less than a month after our arrival, by the end of January 1940, the commandment of the camp imposed to the Jewish POWs a distinctive sign, an X which was affixed on the chest.
The French prisoners, like the Polish prisoners who arrived short later did not wear any specific sign. This specific measure toward the Jews lasted till the end of their detention .
A chief-sergeant deputy to the camp commander was fierce to persecute those who for any reason removed that sign or whose sign was not visible enough.
This officer’s specialty was to de persecute permanently the Jewish POWs, pronouncing against them punishment for the smallest action he did not like or just for his own pleasure. As an example he would impose to a whole barrack punitive exercises : gymnastic in the snow or under cold rain, etc…
For months , he did not allow the Jewish POWs to go to the wash-stand and they were told to wait for the rain to get water.
The Jewish POWs were assigned to duties different than their non-Jewish comrades’ ones. The latter used to work at civil places while the Jews were in charge of more difficult tasks in the military domain like construction or demolition on the Zigfried line.
From 1943 on, some POWs were freed and considered like civil workers. Of course the Jewish POWs were excluded from these measures.
Several times the Jewish POWs protested to the commandant and to the Red Cross control commissions, but that did not help to release the discriminatory measures. For a while even the Red Cross parcels were not delivered to the Jewish POWs.
- Bulletin n°20
- 2015 november friday 13
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