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Old 27.01.2012, 11:43
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Switzerland, and WWI Prisoners of War

hi there

A friend of mine is trying to track down some info about his grandfather's WWI war history. He was captured by the Germans in the Somme and was passed as a POW to Switzerland in Feb 1918 at Lake Constance. Apparently he spent two years in Switzerland before getting back to the UK. My friend is interested to find out what he did during those 2 years and what the Swiss program of repatriation was. We're keen to find out if anyone has any knowledge of what the Swiss did in helping these UK POWs.

Does anyone know of any resources for finding information like this?

Thanks!
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Old 27.01.2012, 12:12
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Re: Switzerland, and WWI Prisoners of War

start with Wiki.. complete with references..
.


In all, 219,000 prisoners were exchanged.[84]

During the war, some prisoners were sent to neutral Switzerland on grounds of ill health. Internment conditions were very strict in Switzerland but softened with time. ............. Approval for departure in no way meant permanent freedom but instead transfer to Konstanz, where a medical commission verifying the prisoners’ state was located.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_W...Germany#Auriol
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Old 27.01.2012, 14:12
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Re: Switzerland, and WWI Prisoners of War

The International Red Cross in Geneva is your best bet. Bonne chance.
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Old 28.01.2012, 01:54
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Re: Switzerland, and WWI Prisoners of War

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hi there

A friend of mine is trying to track down some info about his grandfather's WWI war history. He was captured by the Germans in the Somme and was passed as a POW to Switzerland in Feb 1918 at Lake Constance. Apparently he spent two years in Switzerland before getting back to the UK. My friend is interested to find out what he did during those 2 years and what the Swiss program of repatriation was. We're keen to find out if anyone has any knowledge of what the Swiss did in helping these UK POWs.

Does anyone know of any resources for finding information like this?

Thanks!
In both WWs, Switzerland tried to accommodate the POWs as best as possible. There in WWII in Schaffhausen was a sizeable contingent of Norwegians, many officers among them. And after the war, lots of SChaffhauser-"girls" went to Bergen. On a chance visit a few years ago to Bergen, a friend was astonished when in a Bergen restaurant, suddenly being met by an old "Schaffuserin" (mother of the manageress). There were many English POWs in many places. Who were granted quite an acceptable life. Strangely enough, many of those POWs filled the places left empty by locals called up into military service. And when the war was over, to quote CDG "la guerre est gagnée", things relatively swiftly returned to normal.
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Old 29.01.2012, 18:48
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Re: Switzerland, and WWI Prisoners of War

Thanks everybody!
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Old 29.01.2012, 20:02
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Re: Switzerland, and WWI Prisoners of War

My wife's grand-uncle (brother of her maternal grandmother) was taken prisoner by the Germans after Italy capitulated in '43. He spent two years at some Berlin-area camp (Magdeburg as I recall). He is now 95.

He said treatment by the US was best, but the Germans were better than the UK (who took over from the US after divying up the spoils). Basically, UK food and treatment sucked.

Any questions? We'll be heading over to Luino next weekend for a visit.

Tom
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Old 29.01.2012, 20:11
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Re: Switzerland, and WWI Prisoners of War

Sorry bubbles, a bit off topic, but I find the subject interesting.

There is a duck enclosure close to my home, a very pretty place with lots of different kinds of ducks. Apparently, it was built by Polish POW after WWII and made me curious because I never knew that Switzerland had POWs.

Live and learn.
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Old 29.01.2012, 20:20
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Re: Switzerland, and WWI Prisoners of War

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I never knew that Switzerland had POWs.
Technically, any foreign military who entered the country by non-official means were subject to being POWs, i.e. downed aircraft, etc.

Generally speaking, though, they were guests.

Being neutral does NOT mean that you don't have POWs, why would you even think that?

Tom
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Old 29.01.2012, 20:24
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Re: Switzerland, and WWI Prisoners of War

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Being neutral does NOT mean that you don't have POWs, why would you even think that?

Tom
I really thought that they never got involved . At all. I feel very stupid now, thanks Tom .
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Old 29.01.2012, 20:29
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Re: Switzerland, and WWI Prisoners of War

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I really thought that they never got involved . At all. I feel very stupid now, thanks Tom .
Planes crashed, ran out of fuel, etc. Even if you're neutral, you still get unwanted guests!

The alternative, of course, would be to hand them over to the Germans. Far better to be a Swiss POW.

Tom
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Old 29.01.2012, 20:34
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Re: Switzerland, and WWI Prisoners of War

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Planes crashed, ran out of fuel, etc. Even if you're neutral, you still get unwanted guests!

The alternative, of course, would be to hand them over to the Germans. Far better to be a Swiss POW.

Tom
Makes sense. Thanks.
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Old 29.01.2012, 20:39
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Re: Switzerland, and WWI Prisoners of War

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Makes sense. Thanks.
Swiss joke: (yes, they exist)

Swiss to US aircraft: you're entering Swiss airspace, we will have to shoot!

US to Swiss: Yes, we know!

US to Swiss: You are shooting too low!

Swiss to US aircraft: Yes, we know!

Tom
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Old 29.01.2012, 21:03
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Re: Switzerland, and WWI Prisoners of War

Some links:

http://swissinternees.tripod.com/

http://1914-1918.invisionzone.com/fo...howtopic=94077

http://www.swiss-stamps.us/Tell/T303.pdf

http://www.btinternet.com/~prosearch/tomspage19.html

Wiki

http://untoldvalor.blogspot.com/2008...terned-in.html
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Old 30.01.2012, 00:36
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Re: Switzerland, and WWI Prisoners of War

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Sorry bubbles, a bit off topic, but I find the subject interesting.

There is a duck enclosure close to my home, a very pretty place with lots of different kinds of ducks. Apparently, it was built by Polish POW after WWII and made me curious because I never knew that Switzerland had POWs.

Live and learn.
Switzerland had lots of POWs in WWII, a few of them being airforce-people who landed in distress. RAF and USAF pilots when realising that their planes were not to make it accross the channel, diverted into Switzerland ... and were then escorted to Dübendorf. And the Germans tended to hand over POWs they did not want to have themselves to Switzerland. In addition to this, Switzerland offered the Germans a favour as they could offer the adversaries an "exchange" which meant that the Germans released POWs to Switzerland and Germans got released either to Portugal or to Switzerland.

Mum met numerous charming Norwegians on the Munot in Schaffhausen and even more amazing Americans in Lausanne/Montreux, some most charming American Blacks among them !
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Old 12.02.2013, 18:09
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Re: Switzerland, and WWI Prisoners of War

An interesting find in today's Swissinfo page about the suffering the internees faced whilst in Swiss care.

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“With this POW medal, I’m glad to have recognition after 68 years, but disappointed it took so long,” said Lieutenant Colonel James Misuraca. “I have never been angry with the Swiss people. I was angry at the Swiss military for incarcerating me in a hell-hole like Wauwilermoos [prison].”

In 2001, Béguin’s daughter wrote to Culler at Christmas time, speaking of years of suffering and asking for forgiveness for her family and her father.

Grandson of another interned US aviator, Major Dwight Mears has completed his doctoral thesis on American internees in Switzerland.

According to his research carried out at the Swiss federal archives in Bern and the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva, over 150 men were entitled to the prisoner-of-war medal, 11 of whom are still alive. Those who are dead will receive the medal posthumously.

Mears said that conditions in the camp had not been reported correctly. “Switzerland’s wartime general, Henri Guisan, demanded that all Red Cross reports about the internment camps be submitted to army censors first if delegates wanted access,” he noted.
URL

Thesis in PDF format attached as well ( good food for thought ).
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switzerland-wwi-prisoners-war-thesisabstract.jpg  
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File Type: pdf Interned_or_imprisoned_the_successes_and_failures.pdf (421.4 KB, 152 views)
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Old 12.02.2013, 18:19
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Re: Switzerland, and WWI Prisoners of War

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I never knew that Switzerland had POWs.
Being neutral also means not allowing comabants into your country, or to fly over your country or to take short-cuts across your country.

There were many cases, especially of airmen, either intentionally or accidentally flying across Swiss airspace. Some of them were intercepted, forced to land and taken prisoner. Others just crashed.

I used to have a neighbour who worked at Dübendorf airstrip during WWII and he says there were lines upon lines of captured planes, from both sides of the conflict. Some of them were traded back to their respective countries in return for some other deals. One or two of these planes later found their way into the Air Force museum there. There was also a lot of reverse engineering going on, which helped advance Swiss aviation in the post-war period. He says of all the nations who had planes there, the Americans were most touchy about their technology being reverse engineered and by some special arrangement teams were sent over to smash their captured planes to pieces with sledgehammers.
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Old 13.02.2013, 05:32
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Re: Switzerland, and WWI Prisoners of War

For those who read German here are the exact numbers and facts:

Historisches Lexikon der Schweiz
Im Zweiten Weltkrieg internierte die Schweiz im Juni 1940 29'000 franz. Armeeangehörige und 12'000 Polen des 45. franz. Armeekorps, die an der Grenze des Berner Juras in die Enge getrieben worden waren; dazu kamen noch rund 2'000 Zivilpersonen. Das Eidg. Militärdep. gründete das eidg. Kommissariat für Internierung und Hospitalisierung. Mit dem Einverständnis von Vichy und Berlin wurden die Franzosen im Jan. 1941 repatriiert, während die Polen bis 1945 in den Lagern verblieben. Nach dem Sturz Mussolinis im Juli 1943 und der Besetzung Norditaliens durch die Deutschen kamen 20'000 Männer, v.a. Italiener, über die Tessiner Grenze in die Schweiz. Vom Sommer 1944 an wurden zahlreiche Verbände der dt. Wehrmacht und Einzelpersonen in der Schweiz interniert.
Die schweiz. Behörden wiesen nur Angehörige der SS und einige auf dt. Seite kämpfende Militärs zurück, so die Russen der Wlassow-Armee. Als Internierte erachteten sie hingegen hospitalisierte Militärpersonen, Deserteure, Kriegsgegner, Dienstverweigerer aus Gewissensgründen sowie ausgerissene Kriegsgefangene, deren Aufnahme die Haager Konventionen nicht zwingend vorschreiben. Sie unternahmen nichts dagegen, dass geflohene Alliierte durch die Schweiz reisten, um wieder am Kampf teilzunehmen. 1939-45 wurden insgesamt 104'000 Militärangehörige in der Schweiz interniert: 34'500 Franzosen, 24'400 Italiener, 17'100 Polen, 7'200 Deutsche und Österreicher, 5'800 Briten, 2'100 Jugoslawen, 1'600 Amerikaner und 8'400 Sowjetbürger, von denen sich einige später weigerten, in die Sowjetunion zurückzukehren, weil sie Repressalien befürchteten. Bei Kriegsende gestaltete sich der Umgang mit den Internierten unterschiedlichster Herkunft nicht einfach. Probleme bereiteten etwa deren Beziehungen zur Zivilbevölkerung, insbesondere zu den Frauen, oder der Umstand, dass sich die Amerikaner nicht den übl. Regeln für Internierte fügen wollten. Der Alltag der Internierten verlief je nach Ursprungsland unterschiedlich: Einige leisteten harte Arbeit (auf dem Feld oder auf Baustellen), während die amerikan. Piloten auf Kosten ihrer Botschaft im Hotel einquartiert waren. Wie im 1. Weltkrieg wurde einigen dieser Personen die Möglichkeit geboten, ein Studium zu absolvieren.
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Old 13.02.2013, 06:33
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Re: Switzerland, and WWI Prisoners of War

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Sorry bubbles, a bit off topic, but I find the subject interesting.

There is a duck enclosure close to my home, a very pretty place with lots of different kinds of ducks. Apparently, it was built by Polish POW after WWII and made me curious because I never knew that Switzerland had POWs.

Live and learn.
Switzerland did NOT have POWs, but "Interneees" (Internierte) which means that Switzerland took over such Internees who HAD BEEN POWs and gave them quite a good life. Many Norwegians in Schaffhausen regularily participated at festivities, for example on the Munot. The only hick-up of course was that Switzerland on take over signed NOT to allow the internees to return home before war-end

If there was a comparable number of internees from both sides, by some exchange-agreements, many could be repatriated.
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Old 13.02.2013, 07:42
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Re: Switzerland, and WWI Prisoners of War

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Others just crashed.
And where would one rather crash, Germany or Switzerland?

Tom
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Old 13.02.2013, 08:03
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Re: Switzerland, and WWI Prisoners of War

There were also about 12000 Polish internees in Switzerland who fled France after the German invasion. They were commanded by Bronisław Prugar-Ketling. Many of them built the still existing "Polenwege" in Switzerland (German). There is a short clip from swissinfo on the topic.

There is also a portrait (German) of one of the internees who stayed in Switzerland after WWII from Migros Magazin.
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