HC Deb 24 November 1942 vol 385 cc653-5
32. Mr. Leslie

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has any information about the holding-up of letters and parcels sent to British prisoners in Germany; and what action has been taken to get the ban removed?

Sir J. Grigg

From extracts taken from prisoner of war letters in August it became apparent that a ban had been placed by the German authorities on the inward and outward correspondence of British prisoners of war in Germany. The Germans explained to the prisoners that this was a reprisal for delays in the transmission of mail from German prisoners of war. A protest was made through the Protecting Power against the German action stating that the correspondence from German prisoners had not been restricted. No reply has been received to this protest, but in September a large volume of mail from prisoners in Germany was released by the German authorities. More recently, however, it has become clear that some restrictions are still in force. A further protest against this breach of the Geneva Convention was made on 7th November, but no reply has yet been received. I am not aware that parcels sent to British prisoners in Germany have been held up, but if my hon. Friend has any evidence of this, I will gladly look into it.

Mr. Leslie

Is the Minister aware that there is considerable anxiety on the part of many people who have had no communications since September, and that according to reports, the Germans are deliberately holding them up because they allege that there is difficulty of communication with German prisoners in Canada and Australia? Will the Minister keep on urging that this ban should be removed?

Sir J. Grigg

Yes, Sir.

34. Major-General Sir Alfred Knox:

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he has considered letters received from prisoners of war in Oflag IX A/H which state that, on 1st October, these men were deprived of all books, washing and shaving kit and all their clothes, except those then worn; that up till 15th October these articles had not been returned; and will he make representations, through the Protecting Power, as to the cause of this treatment?

Sir J. Grigg

Yes, Sir. Strong representations have been made about this unjustifiable action on the part of the German authorities.

Sir A. Knox

Does my right hon. Friend realise that at this camp, where the treatment was very good up to the end of September, it is alleged that this brutal treatment of the prisoners is a reprisal for something we did to German prisoners of war in the Red Sea in March? Will my right hon. Friend inquire into that and give the German Government no excuse for treating our men like this?

Sir J. Grigg

I do not think the German Government ever had any excuse, but I will certainly make assurance trebly sure.

Sir William Davison

Has the Red Cross found out whether the Germans give any reason for this scandalous breach of the Geneva Convention?

Sir J. Grigg

The Germans are apt to leave communications and protests unanswered for a very long time.

37. Mr. Liddall

asked the Secretary of State for War whether he is aware of the bad sanitation at some of the prisoner-of-war camps in Italy, especially at Campo Pg 5, Pn 3100; and what steps he is taking to have such places made fit for human habitation?

Sir J. Grigg

I am aware of the deficiencies in sanitation in several Italian camps. Representations have been made by the Protecting Power, and I hope that the deficiencies are now being put right.

Viscountess Astor

Is my right hon. Friend aware that sanitation even in the best houses in Italy leaves much to be desired?