The German Treatment of Wounded Australian Prisoners of War

In 1919 the Australian Government issued a booklet entitled "How the Germans Treated Australian Prisoners of War". [Click here for view of the cover of booklet] It was published "By Authority" and issued by the Defence Department, Melbourne, Australia. It included extracts from Statements made by Repatriated Australian Prisoners of War, most of whom had been wounded.

Some of these Statements make disturbing reading and it appears that many Allied prisoners of war were very badly treated. It should, however, be remembered that conditions in Germany, during the last years of the war, were very difficult with food in short supply as a result of the Allied naval blockade. Most Allied prisoners of war would have starved to death if it were not for the Red Cross food parcels that were sent to them.

Four typical sample accounts are given, followed by the Report of the Acting Consul for Switzerland, in charge of German interests. This contrasts the accounts of the Australian Prosoners of War with the way that German Prisoners of War were treated at the Holdsworthy Prisoner of War Camp in New South Wales where there was no shortage of food.

Statement made by an anonymous Australian soldier, captured at Villers Brettoneux in 1918 and subsequently repatriated to England.

Statement made by an Australian private soldier, captured in 1916. He was seriously wounded in the left shoulder and was eventually repatriated, on an exchange basis, to England.

An account by a severely wounded soldier His treatment by the Germans was good but he would have died of starvation if it were not for food parcels.

A detailed account by a severely wounded officer, captured at Pozieres. This includes his assessment of the quality of the various Prisoner of War camps that he experienced before his repatriation to England.

The Report from the Acting Swiss Consul, concerned with German interests who issued a report on the conditions in Holdsworthy Prisoner of War Internment Camp in New South Wales, Australia.

Dr M Geoffrey Miller


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