HC Deb 22 February 1945 vol 408 cc960-1

The following Question stood on the Order Paper in the name of Major-General Sir ALFRED KNOX:

92. To ask the Secretary of State for War if he can give the most recent number of British prisoners of war who have been liberated by the Russian advance; where they now are being assembled; and whether all their names have been communicated to the next of kin.

At the end of Questions

The Financial Secretary to the War Office (Mr. Arthur Henderson)

The House will be interested to receive information with regard to prisoners of war recently in German hands, and with your permission, Mr. Speaker, I would like to read the answer to Question 92.

Information has been received from the Soviet authorities that 2,661 British Commonwealth prisoners of war (of whom 70 are officers) recovered from German camps are on their way by rail to Odessa. A transit camp is under construction there for the accommodation of liberated prisoners of war. Any prisoners recovered will be assembled in this camp until ships arrive to bring them home. So far no list of names has been received. In accordance with the agreement recently concluded in the Crimea, the Soviet authorities are providing food, clothes and any necessary medical attention for our men. It is likely that some of the Work Detachments dependent on Stalags XXA, XXB, 344 and VIIIB have been overrun by the Soviet Forces but I have no details of any prisoners of war other than those I have mentioned. I am circulating in the OFFICIAL REPORT, such information as has become available about the transfer of British prisoners still in German hands.

Mr. Ellis Smith

In view of anxiety among the relatives of these men, will my hon. and learned Friend take steps to consult the Soviet authorities in this country to see whether the men's navies and units can be broadcast as early as possible in order to relieve this anxiety? At the same time, I assure my hon. and learned Friend that the people of this country will have full confidence that the Soviet authorities will look after these men.

Mr. Henderson

I can assure the House that His Majesty's Government are in close touch with the Soviet Government on the matter, and the necessary arrangements have been made on the point my hon. Friend has raised.

Mr. Gallacher

Would not the Financial Secretary to the War Office consult with the Prime Minister and arrange for some of the Members of Parliament at present in the Soviet Union to pay a visit to Odessa and have a talk with the released prisoners?

Following is the information:

As regards the movements of camps in Eastern Germany, the present position, according to the latest information available, is as follows: Stalags XX A, XX B and II B are moving through the Province of Mecklenburg. Some are being moved by rail. From Stalag Luft III 2,000 British and American prisoners of war have been transferred to Stalag III A, at Luckenwalde, 2,000 to Marlag Milag Nord (near Hamburg), 2,000 to Stalag XIII C east of Frankfurt-on-Main, and 4,000 to Stalag VII A in Bavaria.

Prisoners of war from Stalags VIII A and VIII C are moving through Saxony. A number of prisoners unfit to travel are being transferred from Stalag VIII A by rail.

Some prisoners from Stalag Luft IV are reported to be at Usedom near Swinemunde on the Baltic.

Stalag Luft VII was reported to be near Spremberg from where the prisoners are to be transferred to the neighbourhood of Nuremberg and Moosburg in Bavaria.

Stalag VIII B is reported to be moving towards Aussig south of Dresden.

Stalag 344 is reported to be moving to Theresienstadt south of Dresden.

The final destination of the prisoners transferred from the above camps is not yet known.