REPORTS OF ACTING CONSUL FOR SWITZERLAND (IN CHARGE OF GERMAN INTERESTS) ON GERMAN CONCENTRATION CAMPS IN AUSTRALIA.
No. 1 HOLDSWORTHY CAMP.
The Platoon sheds, built of wood and covered with galvanized roofing iron, are some 125 feet by 9 feet, and some 150 feet by 9 feet, accommodating 51 and 61 internees respectively, allowing 22 ˝ to 26 ˝ square feet floor space to each man. Iron framed wire netting bunks have been installed throughout. The Platoons are protected (covered in) on three sides, but open to the fair weather side, where adjustable canvas blinds are fitted.
Shops and Cafés
The Canteen carries a stock of general stores, enabling the internees to procure additional requirements beyond the necessaries which are supplied by the authorities, as per Scale of Rations. In the Main Compound there are
Nine cafés and Restaraunts, supplying meals, tea, coffee and pastry, also six Cafés supplying coffee and rolls.
establishments draw their supply through.
the Prisoner of War Canteen. and are carried on by the internees for
their own benefit.
At the No. 1, or Main Compound, at Holdsworthy, I asked for and was taken round by Dr. Londe, a German internee, who, until quite recently held the position of President of the Camp Representation for about eighteen months. Since his resignation, no other president has been elected, but by special request from numerous internees, he is again acting as the Executive of the Camp Representation, besides being the administrator of the Imperial German Government's grant of 10/- [10 shillings] per month.
I moved amongst all classes of the internees, away from the hearing of anybody, and gave the internees the opportunity to speak freely, and without restraint. Having arrived at the Main Compound shortly before midday, the three kitchens were at once inspected, and found to be in a condition of the utmost cleanliness, I was present when the midday meal was servedto the internees, who, in reply to my inquiry, stated that everything was served that day as usual. Quite a number of internees were questioned, and none but minor complaints were made, mostly irrelevant to my inquiry. The food was clean and wholesome, consisting - in two of the kitchens - of fried meat-balls and potatoes and fresh meaty soup, and tea; and Irish stew in the third kitchen. The food gave general satisfaction, within the scale of rations, to the great majority of those I questioned. The complaints made centered mostly about the monotony of the rations, some that the meat and vegetable rations were not liberal enough. The one or two complaints, made to me about the quality of the food, I found frivolous. For instance, one complaint about the bread. I was handed half a loaf of ordinary wheat bread, cut a slice, ate it, and found it perfectly sweet, free from any foreign flavour and excellently baked (by German bakers). This kind of bread was, according to the interneees statement, served fresh daily, and in such abundance that the numerous waste bread-bins inspected within the Compound were found to contain large quantities of fresh bread in slices, quarter and half loaves. ...
With regard to the sanitary conditions of the Camp I inspected the latrines. There was very little, if any offensive smell about same, in fact, very few of the hotels in the inland towns I have visited in this country and none of the hotels I visited and stayed at during journey. on these visits to the Camps, were found to possess such clean, inoffensive lavatories as those fitted in the Internees' Camps, although, needless to say I stayed at the best hotels available.
The percentage of sickness was admitted to be very small during the period of the last six months, only eight deaths took place out of 5,190 internees. The internees looked to be in a healthy condition.
To improve the condition of the Camp during the seasons, the authorities have had constructed a system of deep drains, the barracks being built on the higher ground within the area, gives a desirable slope for the rain and other water to run away, thereby preventing ,stagnant water about the living quarters. An abundance of clean, good water, with ample provision for shower baths and washing places, is available within easy reach of the barracks. Simultaneously with the warm weather, vermin made its appearance in some of the quarters. The matter was brought under the notice of the authorities, and has since received the attention of the Camp Officials `to effectively combat this nuisance. In several of the messes within the same Compound, no cause for complaints was said to exist in this connexion, the occupants explaining that they found no difficulty in, avoiding the vermin by keeping the messes and clothing spotlessly clean. But some of the rather mixed class of internees in this Camp may, perhaps, not fully have appreciated or practised this as others did.
The dust nuisance seems to be a
matter that, next to the very internment itself,
with its highly demoralizing barrack life, gives more cause for serious
complaint than any of the other discomforts.
The dust storms in this district, like so many others in Australia,
where little or no cultivation exists, are at
times very severe, often causing more or less temporary soreness or
inflammation of the eyes. With a view of alleviating
this cause of complaint, the Military authorities some months ago had
the wide thoroughfares and the large spaces
of the yard within the barrack grounds covered with tar.
The views of the internees were sought as to the treatment meted out to them by the Camp authorities. No causes of unjust or unfair treatment were brought under my notice, either by individual internees or the Camp Representation. The dissatisfaction principally expressed to me was in connexion with their own private losses and affairs, grievance of being interned, repatriation and the comfortless, monotonous lengthy camp life. My opinion, based on my own observations, and the remarks made to me by the internees on the one hand, and the officers and guards on the other, is satisfactory. The officers gave the impression of wishing to treat everybody fairly, seemed sympathetically inclined towards the internees.
Opportunity for internees to relieve the monoton internment exists through the numerous athletic and social clubs for football, hockey, bat-ball (about 495 members), tennis, boxing, and gymnasium (about 600 members) There are also dramatic and chess clubs, and two choral societies, also several theatres, besides an open-air picture show. The authorities have also erected detached school-rooms for study and educational purposes.
The authorities also provide, as far as possible, opportunity for internees to obtain work - roadmaking, bush clearing, kitchen work, &c., the wages being 1shilling a half day (3 and a half to 4 hours) for ordinary unskilled labour whereas the rate of pay for competent tradesmen, such carpenters, &c., is 4s; cooks, 3s. to 5s. per day. The internees, however, are not called upon to perform compulsory work. But very many do avail themselves thereof whereas others, even amongst those who had no private means or income, freely volunteered to me that they we not "stoop" to work at the rate of wages offered. I understand the whole of the staffs in the kitchen and bakeries in the Camp are German internees.
Those of the well conducted internees who desire are also granted the freedom and use of a garden plot growing vegetables in the 25-acre area, with river frontage, set apart for that purpose, in the immediate neighbourhood of the Compound. I noticed a good many availed themselves of this privilege, not only as a pastime but as a source of earning money from the sale of vegetables.
The river carries sufficient depth of water to enable those who desire it to bathe therein.
The Camp Representation informed me that the authorities had lately supplied the internees more regularly with suitable clothing.
(Signed) OLAV EDUARD PAUSS.
HOSPITAL G.C.C., HOLDSWORTRY.
To the Commandant,
In reply to your A/18/2269, the following partiuculars are forwarded as requested; the statistics are for six months - May to October, 1918, inclusive.
The accommodation for the sick in this Camp comprises a Field Hospital consisting of five hospital wards, a compound for the isolation of tubercular patients, a compound for venereal patients, and a dental surgery.
The hospital wards contain ten beds each, and are 33 x 18 x 12, four of which are used for general cases and one for surgical.
The tubercular cases, numbering nine, are housed in a barrack some distance from the main Compound, and are not in any way confined to an enclosure, but are allowed an extensive area around their barrack for recreation purposes; several of these cases have been discharged free from active symptoms, and with one or two exception, they all show steady improvement.
The Venereal Compound is a small enclosure, situated in close proximity to the hospital. All cases of syphilis requiring treatment attend regularly at the Liverpool State Hospital for injections of Salvarsan.
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