Stockpile It! Reject It! Burn It! Proof Eisenhower Did Not Have To Starve German POWs To Death

There was so much food to return that it took thousands of train cars to return the food to its sources in Paris and Brussels… clogging the rail system in France with this unnecessary work.

The U.S. Army had stored 13,500,000 high-protein Red Cross food parcels in army warehouses…

german pow pen
The holding pen is similar to the final camp below.

Editors Comment: This is one of a series of articles detailing aspects of the Western Allies deliberate intention to murder approximately 1 million disarmed German POWs by means of unnecessary starvation, exposure, and illness.

On July 27, 1929, the Allies extended the Protective Regulations of the Geneva Convention for Wounded Soldiers to include prisoners of war (POWs). These regulations state: “All accommodations should be equal to the standard of their troops. The Red Cross supervises. After the end of the hostilities the POWs should be released immediately.”

On March 10, 1945, Dwight Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force, disregarded these regulations by classifying German prisoners captured on German territory as “Disarmed Enemy Forces” (DEFs). The German prisoners were therefore at the mercy of the Allies and were not protected by international law.

Final camps for German POWs to die by exposure, starvation and illness.

 The Allies had the ability to feed and shelter their POWs

The record clearly shows that the Allies had the ability to feed and shelter their POWs. The Allies prevented food from reaching Germany. James Bacque writes:

      Even as the gallows at Nuremberg displayed their awful warning, the Allies were depriving men, women and children in Germany of available food. Foreign relief agencies were prevented from sending food from abroad; Red Cross food trains were sent back full to Switzerland; all foreign governments were denied permission to send food to German civilians; fertilizer production was sharply reduced; and food was confiscated during the first year, especially in the French zone. The fishing fleet was kept in port while people starved. British soldiers actually blew up one fishing boat in front of the eyes of astonished Germans. “The people say the sea is full of fish, but they want to starve us,” said Burgomaster Petersen.[1]

Some historians claim that Eisenhower’s order banning civilian food supply of the camps was prompted by an overall threat of a food shortage. However, many German prisoners and civilians saw American guards burn the food brought by civilian women. Ernst Kraemer, a prisoner at Büderich and Rheinberg, states:

“At first, the women from the nearby town brought food into the camp. The American soldiers took everything away from the women, threw it in a heap and poured gasoline [benzine] over it and burned it.”

Writer Karl Vogel, the German camp commander appointed by the Americans in Camp 8 at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, says that Eisenhower himself ordered the food to be destroyed. The Americans were destroying food outside the gate even though the prisoners were getting only 800 calories per day.[2]

German prisoner Herbert Peters states concerning conditions at the huge U.S. camp at Rheinberg:

“Even when there was little for us to eat, the provisions enclosure was enormous. Piles of cartons like bungalows with intersecting streets throughout.”[3]

Ten prisoners and several civilians describe starvation conditions at Bretzenheim through the approximately 70 days the camp was under U.S. control. The official U.S. Army ration book shows that the prisoners at Bretzenheim received 600 to 850 calories per day. According to Capt. Lee Berwick of the 424th Infantry Regiment, the prisoners at Bretzenheim starved even though food was piled up all along the camp fence. Capt. Berwick could not explain why the prisoners got only 600 to 850 calories per day. During the camp’s worst period of about 16 days, Berwick estimates that three to five bodies a day at Bretzenheim were taken from each of 20 cages within the larger enclosure.[4]

424th regiment
A few American soldiers from the 424th regiment. Capt. Lee Berwick, Johnson’s Bayou, La., 424th (not pictured) was a credible witness. He talked 102 Germans and two officers into surrendering an almost impregnable position to a handful of men. He boldly strode to the very muzzle of enemy machine guns to warn of the “huge force” supporting him and ordered the senior officer to surrender. It worked!

The German prisoners went on starving despite plenty of food in Europe. The U.S. Army had stored 13,500,000 high-protein Red Cross food parcels in army warehouses in Europe taken over from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in May 1945. On November 17, 1945, the army was still wondering what to do with these parcels. Each parcel contained on average 12,000 calories. There was enough food in them to have given the approximately 700,000 German prisoners who had died by then a supplementary 1,000 calories per day for about eight months. The ICRC parcels alone would probably have kept most of the German prisoners alive until early 1946.[5]

One of the first signs of the Allies’ starvation policy came from North America, where the ICRC delegation reported that the German prisoners’ rations had been cut as soon as Germany released its Allied POWs. Then, in late May or early June 1945, the ICRC loaded two freight trains with food from their warehouses in Switzerland, where they had over 100,000 tons of food in storage. The trains traveled to their destination in the American sector via the normal route prescribed by the German government during the war. When the trains reached their destinations, the U.S. Army informed the ICRC officials accompanying the trains that the warehouses were full. The trains were forced to return to Switzerland.[6]

Max Huber, the head of the ICRC, began inquiries into the U.S. Army’s actions. After a long investigation, Huber wrote a letter to the U.S. State Department. Huber referred to the Red Cross food trains that were returned full to Switzerland in the spring of 1945. Huber wrote:

      When hostilities in Europe ceased, the International Committee of the Red Cross made every effort to improve the situation of prisoners of all categories whose status after the liberation by the Allied Armies became that of “ex-prisoner of war.” Anticipating the difficulties which would result from these circumstances, the Committee hoped to alleviate as much as possible the hardships of the former internee by working out a relief scheme with the Allied military authorities which, while bringing a considerable measure of aid, would also prove to be a rational means of liquidating the accumulated stocks in Switzerland and other countries….

Meanwhile, the numerous communications from Allied officers in charge of assembly areas and camps for Displaced Persons; the reports of our delegates on medical missions in Germany; and especially the many direct requests addressed to us from the Camps themselves, bear witness to the fact that tens if not hundreds of thousands of displaced persons in Germany are still in dire need of aid. From all this we are bound to recognize that the demands made upon the Anglo-American pool by the competent sections of the Allied armies are not proportionate to the prevailing need…In consequence, the humanitarian work of the International Committee is in danger of becoming discredited. Our responsibility for the proper use of relief supplies placed in our care is incompatible with a restriction to the fulfillment of orders which render us powerless to furnish relief which we ourselves judge necessary.

The anticipated requisitions were either not made at all, or else came in with much delay. Having effected delivery with our trains in Germany in default of those promised by the Allied armies in Germany but never placed at our disposal, we would then find that the receiving personnel at the various destinations were without proper instructions as to the handling of these consignments. If the warehouse happened to be full, our trains would be refused there in turn. That the warehouses were still filled to overflowing was proof positive that the distributions in view of which previous requisitions had been made were still in abeyance….The Allied authorities’ dispositions…of Anglo-American stocks…have failed to achieve relief in reasonable proportion to the extent of these stocks and degree of transport facilities available.

Practical experience showed…that in consequence of the general food shortage caused by the occupation army’s normal requisitions and the dislocation of transport, the [armies] were unable to allot even a minimum ration to the Balts, Bulgarians, Hungarians, Italians, Rumanians and apatrides [stateless people] on Germany territory.

Thus, stating our case fully to the governments and Red Cross Societies concerned, we desire to stress the fact that the conditions set forth above leave us no alternative but to express our grave concern for the immediate future. To stand passively by whilst holding large quantities of immediately available relief supplies and knowing the plight of many camps of Displaced persons of all categories in Germany, growing steadily more alarming, is not compatible with the tradition of our institution.[7]

red cross parcel packing
The Red Cross worked tirelessly to aid civilians and soldiers throughout the war and after. Only Stalin and Eisenhower refused them the right to aid POWs as prescribed by the Geneva Convention.

The United States Force, European Theater (USFET), over Eisenhower’s signature, calmly ignored everything Huber said in his letter. Huber was forced to return the food to its original donors because the army refused to distribute it. There was so much food to return that it took thousands of train cars to return the food to its sources in Paris and Brussels. Huber apologized for clogging the rail system in France with this unnecessary work. Huber also had to obtain extra trucks beyond the 500 belonging to the ICRC in Geneva to return over 30,000 tons of food to the original donors.[8]

EPSON scanner image

      Relief agencies such as the YMCA, the Unitarians, the American Friends Service Committee (the Quakers), and various other church groups were also attempting to send aid into Germany. For the crucial months until November 1945, while Eisenhower was military governor of the U.S. zone of Germany, the army made it difficult if not impossible for welfare from relief agencies to reach Germans. For example, the American Quakers were ordered to keep out of the U.S. zone. Also, the YMCA was refused permission by the U.S. Army to feed German prisoners in U.S. camps in France even though the YMCA offered to pay for all goods received from the army. The general attitude of the U.S. Army towards civilian relief agencies is clear from the opinion expressed by Stephen Cary, European Commissioner of the American Friends Service Committee, who said,

“We were very unhappy with their heavy-handed and restrictive treatment.”[9]

The Quartermaster Progress Reports from April through June 1945 also confirm that there was a huge surplus of food in the U.S. Army. Every month shows a vast surplus amounting to more than 100 days on hand for the whole army. This food surplus existed even though there was mass starvation in the U.S. POW camps.[10]

The U.S. Army also had plenty of tents, barbed wire, medical and other supplies for the German prisoners. These items were scarce in the camps not because the army lacked supplies, but because requests for supplies were denied. Gen. Everett S. Hughes said on March 19, 1945, after he visited the huge supply dumps at Naples and Marseille:

“[Marseille is] Naples all over again. More stocks than we can ever use. Stretch as far as eye can see.”[11]

Gen. Robert Littlejohn, who as quartermaster of USFET was in charge of Eisenhower’s supplies, tried to get agreement on how to dispose of the army’s surplus subsistence. Littlejohn wrote to Eisenhower on October 10, 1945:

“There is in this Theater a substantial excess of subsistence in certain items due to the rapid discharge of prisoners of war after VE day, the accelerated deployment of U.S. Military, the sharp decrease in employment by U.S. forces of allied liberated nationals and the ending of the supply responsibilities of the French army.…”[12]

The rations the U.S. Army had accumulated in October 1945 amounted to a 139-day supply of food in the European Theater of Operations. This was 39 days more than the 100-day supply of food the army liked to keep on hand. The surplus in the United States was so great that Gen. Littlejohn noted that

“we have been invited to increase our rations of fruit juices and have been advised that our requirements for fresh eggs, fresh fruits, potatoes and butter can and should be met from U.S. sources.”

Littlejohn’s letter goes on to discuss a policy on how to get rid of the surplus, which some officers wanted to send to the United States. Despite this surplus, the German prisoners in U.S. camps kept on starving.[13]

The evidence also suggests that France had enough food to feed their German POWs. The total number of prisoners on hand in France at its peak of about 800,000 represented about 2% of France’s total population of about 40 million in 1945. If, as many German prisoners contend, their ration was about half the minimum to sustain life, then just 1% of the total food consumed in France would have saved them all from starvation. This food could have turned the German prisoners into productive workers contributing to the French economic recovery.[14]

The failure of the Red Cross and other relief agencies to supply the German POWs with food stands in stark contrast to the success of the Red Cross during the war. As the French, American, British and Canadian prisoners left German captivity at the end of World War II, the Red Cross was there to welcome them with food parcels drawn from the millions in storage in their warehouses in Switzerland. The returning prisoners had received about 1,500 calories per day from the Germans. Another life-saving 2,000 calories per day had arrived by mail, mainly from France, Canada and the United States.

The effectiveness of the Red Cross care was demonstrated by the fact that, according to a news release of the American Red Cross in May 1945, over 98% of the Allied prisoners were coming home safe.  The released prisoners were in good health not only because of the food, but also because of clothing and medicine which had arrived safely by mail.[15]

Recommended Reading: In the U.S. sector of Berlin, the infant mortality rate for infants born in the summer of 1945 was 95%.


[1] Bacque, James, Crimes and Mercies: The Fate of German Civilians under Allied Occupation, 1944-1950, 2nd edition, Vancouver, British Columbia: Talonbooks, 2007, p. 88.

[2] Ibid., pp. 91, 231 (footnote 13).

[3] Bacque, James, Other Losses: An Investigation into the Mass Deaths of German Prisoners at the Hands of the French and Americans after World War II, 3rd edition, Vancouver: Talonbooks, 2011, p. xxxvii.

[4] Ibid., pp. xxxi, xxxvi-xxxvii.

[5] Ibid., p. 102.

[6] Ibid., p. 69.

[7] Ibid., pp. 69-71.

[8] Ibid., p. 73.

[9] Ibid., pp. 68, 73, 75-76.

[10] Ibid., pp. 54, 274 (footnote 32).

[11] Ibid., p. 28.

[12] Ibid., pp. 17, 97.

[13] Ibid., p. 97.

[14] Ibid., p. 110.

[15] Ibid., pp. 67-68.

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2 Responses

  1. Mike Walsh says:

    It is neither a request nor an invitation; sharing this article is a duty if freedom of information and compassion towards your fellow man means anything to you.

  2. Reblogged this on HIDDEN IN PLAIN SITE and commented:
    And don’t think this can’t happen again; all they have to do is cut off our utilities, firebomb our crop fields & stop the food trucks. We’d be on our knees in 3 days.

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