1st Lt. Long Testimony
For the WAR CRIMES OFFICE
Judge Advocate General’s Department - War Department
United States of America
In the matter of imprisonment under improper conditions and failure to provide Prisoners of War with Proper food.
Perpetuation of Testimony of T/Sgt Jacob L. Alpert, (serial # omitted)
Taken at: Truax Field, Madison 7, Wisconsin
Date: 13 August 1945
Questions by: Robert A. Crone, Captain, A. C., (serial # omitted)
Q. Sergeant, state your name, rank, serial number, and permanent home address.
A. My permanent home address was just changed, and I don?t know what the new one is. My folks just bought a new place and I don?t know what the new address is going to be. I can give you a business address?
Q. You mean your permanent business address?
A. Yes. I can always be reached through that address. My name is T/Sgt Jacob L. Alpert, (serial # omitted), and my permanent address is (omitted), Monroe, Michigan.
Q. When and where did you land in the United States after returning from overseas?
A. I entered at City Airport, Washington. D.C., January 27th, 1945.
Q. What educational institutions have you attended and for how long?
A. I have completed High School at Monroe, Michigan.
Q. State at what places you were employed as a civilian, the nature of each job and the period of time employed.
A. I was employed with my father as a salesman with the Alpert Furniture Company.
Q. How long Sergeant?
A. Five (5) years.
Q. That was right after you were graduated from high school?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. Did you hold any other jobs?
A. Yes, I held a couple others. I worked with the Robinson Furniture Company in Detroit for about six (6) months and I worked for a local contractor in Monroe for about six (6) months. His name was Doyle.
Q. Were you a Prisoner of War?
A. No I wasn’t.
Q. What were you Sergeant?
A. An internee.
Q. Did you escape?
A. Yes, sir. I escaped from the Confinement Camp at Les Diablerets, Switzerland, 3 January 1945.
Q. At what places were you held Sergeant, and state the approximate dates.
A. The dates are going to be very hard to give. July and August, I was held in Camp Maloney, Switzerland.
Q. Can you give me the approximate dates?
A. From July 13 until roughly the end of August, 1944. From about the 1st of September until the last of September, I was in Wengen, Switzerland. From the last of September until about the 1st of October, I was at Waueilermoos [sic] Prison Camp near Wauweilermoos [sic].
Q. That was a military prison?
A. Yes, sir. For the thirty (30) days following that, I returned to Wengen and then I was sent to Les Diablerets where I remained until I escaped.
Q. Will you tell me in your own words, how the Swiss guards treated you over there with regard to your living conditions.
A. Before I attempted to escape, our treatment wasn’t too bad, that is at least what they had to offer. The food we got consisted mainly of soup and potatoes, very meager allowances of meat which was very infrequent, maybe one little piece of meat once a week. It was just about big enough to fill a tablespoon.
Q. About the size of an egg?
A. Yes, sir. If they had any left over, they’d put it in soup. I don’t know how it was left over, but they used everything.
Q. What kind of meat was it, do you know?
A. I couldn’t say. It was probably goat meat. It was all muscle. Once in maybe two (2) weeks we’d get fish which was cooked whole. Heads and everything.
Q. Did they give you any bread?
A. Yes. We got one (1) piece of bread a day which was equivalent to three (3) slices.
Q. Was it black bread?
A. It was pretty dark and it was what they called potato bread. If you were kind of hungry in the morning and ate a little too much and then didn’t have enough left for supper, that was just your hard luck.
Q. How many meals did you get?
A. They have us three (3) meals a day.
Q. What did you receive for breakfast?
A. Before I got in bad for trying to escape, they would give us some kind of porridge with very little milk. We had twelve (12) men at a table and that little pitcher of milk had to serve all twelve (12) men. If very few men came down to breakfast, as was often the case, they would sometimes give us a little extra porridge.
Q. What else did you get besides the porridge?
A. About once a month, they would give us some breakfast food that was something like corn flakes.
Q. For breakfast you received only one bowl of porridge except on special occasions when you got corn flakes?
A. I remember a few times we had something that looked like oatmeal. That was only a few times though. We occasionally had rice.
Q. How often?
A. They sort of alternated the rice and the porridge. On Sundays they would give us a little piece of cheese about a half inch square and 2-1/2 to 3” long. That was before I got in prison. About every other week we’d get a spoonful of jelly to put on our bread.
Q. What did you have to drink?
A. We had some coffee that was made from chestnuts.
Q. What did you noon meal consist of?
A. Soup, potatoes and of course meat when they had it and occasionally some other vegetables that were a local vegetable.
Q. What your appetite satisfied when you left the table?
A. No, sir. They would fill you up, but what they had would bloat you and you were still hungry. In summertime or fall, they would give us fruit they had which was apples or cherries.
Q. What did you have to eat in the evening?
A. We had just about the same thing. Soup and potatoes were the two (2) main courses. That was the entree all the time.
Q. Tell us a little about the living conditions of your quarters.
A. For bedding we had – the beds and rooms were quite nice while we were there.
Q. How many men to a room?
A. There were two (2) men to a single room and three (3) and four (4) to a large room.
Q. How big was the small room?
A. About 8’ x 10’ and the large room was 10’ x 12’ or 10’ x 15’.
Q. What camp was this Sergeant?
A. At Wengen. Those conditions were true even at Adelboden. We had hot water about 10 or 15 minutes once a week. There were community bathrooms for about four (4) or five (5) rooms to each bathroom.
Q. How many soldiers used this bathroom at one time.
A. Just one (1) man at a time.
Q. How many men were assigned to this one wash room?
A. We weren’t assigned, they had one bathroom for about five (5) sleeping rooms and it was in the main hall. There were wash basins in most of the rooms and if you wanted to take a bath you had to use this community bathroom.
Q. Would you say about twenty (20) men were assigned to this one bathroom?
A. Yes, sir.
Q. How was your bedding Sergeant?
A. I couldn’t complain about that.
Q. What did you have to sleep on?
A. The beds the hotel had, except they crammed more of them in the room.
Q. Did you have mattresses to sleep on?
A. Yes, sir, and even sheets.
Q. How many covers did you have?
A. We had one (1) blanket at Adelboden and at Wengen we had two (2) blankets per person.
Q. Was that sufficient covering for you?
A. Yes, sir, it was.
Q. Sergeant, you stated that you were at Wauweilermoos [sic] Military Prison. Why were you put there?
A. For trying to escape.
Q. How were conditions at that camp?
A. Very poor. At Wauweilermoos [sic] all of us had to use one (1) washroom. By all, I mean all the Americans, about a hundred Poles, about fifty (50) or sixty (60) Germans and a few Russians and a few Italians, French and Belgian prisoners. They had them all segregated as much as possible, but we all had to use the one (1) washroom.
Q. How large was it?
A. About thirty (30) feet long.
Q. Explain the sanitary facilities Sergeant.
A. They had sort of a trough affair.
Q. How many could use it at one (1) time?
A. About six (6). You had to furnish your own paper if paper was obtainable.
Q. How many men had access to that washroom?
A. We all had access to it, about three hundred (300) or three hundred and fifty (350). To wash, they had two (2) boards nailed together in a “Y” shape trough and at certain intervals they had holes [punched] in a pipe that ran over the trough which allowed the water to sprinkle down through the holes in the pipe. We washed in the pan they have us for a mess kit.
Q. Did they have any means of flushing the trough?
A. They did run water through the trough. There were no seats or paper or anything like that though. It wasn’t very pleasant to walk in there and spend your time.
Q. The odor was quite bad, I presume?
A. Yes, sir. In addition, we were only permitted to go to the latrine from about 10 in the morning until 8 at night.
Q. After that, if you wanted to go to the bathroom you weren’t allowed to?
A. The guards didn’t permit us to leave the barracks, so we had to use the area immediately outside.
Q. Was the washroom away from the barracks?
A. It was about One Hundred feet (100’) away. There was no water in the barracks and we had to get it from the latrine. Because of the diet or because we were sleeping on straw, most of the boys complained about their kidneys. When your kidneys are bad, you frequently want to go to the bathroom so all night long they would be getting up and the only place there was to go was outside the door. Aside from being unsanitary, there was an awful stench. That was in the area we had to stand if we wanted to get outside of the barracks.
Q. Were you bothered with lice?
A. Yes. Some of the boys were bitten quite badly. I tried to wash as much as I could to keep them off of me.
Q. What were your living conditions at Camp Maloney?
A. They weren’t too bad, but I was only there about six (6) weeks to two (2) months. We had nothing to complain about. While we were in prison we only had one (1) moth-eaten blanket and we put that down on the straw and kept our clothes on. Everyone slept with their clothes on until just a short time before I got out of there and then the American legation got some Army blankets to us. They had taken away our civilian clothes or whatever we had. They gave us a pair of wooden soled shoes with leather tops with hob nails on the bottom and torn up blue fatigues. That consisted of our entire wardrobe.
Jacob L. Alpertbr>
State of: Wisconsin )
County of: Dane)
I, Jacob L. Alpert, of lawful ago, being duly sworn on oath, state that I have read the foregoing transcription of my interrogation and all answers contained therein are true to the best of my knowledge and belief.
Subscribed and sworn to before me the 15th day of August 1945
Frederick A. Feltz, 1st Lt., A. C.
I, Robert A. Crone, Captain, A. C., (serial # omitted), certify that T/Sgt Jacob L. Alpert (serial # omitted), personally appeared before me on 13 August 1945 and testified concerning War Crimes; and that the foregoing is an accurate transcription of the answers given by him to the several questions set forth.