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The testimony of SSG Baus


Declassified per Executive Order 12356, Section 3.3, 735027, By NND, Date 1973



CONFIDENTIAL

S/Sgt Baus’ testimony:
      As an internee in Switzerland, written orders were issued by General Legge, American Military Attaché and General Guisen of the Swiss Army that we were not to attempt to escape. However, verbal orders were issued to attempt to escape, reporting time, place and number of men to our immediate Commanding Officer. In accordance with this latter order, I attempted to escape, posing as an English escapee. Was capture by Swiss Military Police along with RAF fliers in same position, in spite of every conceivable aid from high ranking English Officers who were anxious to make the attempt successful. After capture, was held two days in Swiss civilian jail, subject to constant interrogation and slander by Swiss Military Police. Was then sent, without trial to Wauwilermoos Concentration Camp for all nationalities. Within 10 days was joined by about 75 enlisted men and 75 officers who also were captured. While prisoners in this concentration camp, Swiss did not specify length of sentence or even make and effort to bring us to trial. Throughout our entire stay in this prison, living conditions, sanitary facilities, etc, were terrible and food was so bad and so insufficient in quantity that we appealed to the Red Cross in Geneva for food parcels. Were informed by the Red Cross through the American Legation that we were not considered sufficiently in need to warrant food parcels from the Red Cross, although they made no effort whatsoever through inspections or inquiries to ascertain the conditions in this prison. The International HQs of the Red Cross being within 100 miles of the prison and in the same country, it certainly would appear that an inspection was in order, particularly when complaints were registered with the International HQs. All those spending the average time in this prison suffered loss of weight, malnutrition and dental deterioration (from which I am still suffering) due to improper diet and extremely low quantity of food. Finally after serving 45 days under the strictest possible discipline constantly enforced by Swiss guards and vicious dogs, under conditions that could only be compared with German and Japanese concentration camps, and without trial of any kind whatsoever, the American Legation negotiations with the Swiss Army resulted in our temporary release on 30 days parole. General Legge told us that this was the only way he could secure our release (by each signing a 30 day parole). Approximately 20 to 30 days after release, men were brought to trial, on or two at a time, and although the men had served an average of about 45 days each, some were given longer sentences. An American Major (internee) representing the American Legation had promised that all men receiving longer sentences would be gotten out of the country by the American Legation rather than be returned to the prison. Several who received longer sentences than served, escaped though their own efforts and the remainder were returned to prison without and effort whatsoever being made by the American Legation to get them out of the country as promised. In view of the known facts that when Germany was winning the war, Switzerland was glad to meet all German demands, even to permitting German fliers to recuperate in Switzerland, it would seem that the United States, when winning the war, could have brought sufficient pressure on Switzerland to secure decent and humane treatment of their troops interned in that country though no fault of theirs. The conditions, etc. in regard to the concentration camp, etc, occurred in October and November of 1944. A large number of Americans escape through the efforts of Consular General Samuel Woods, who took many dangerous chances to assist these men. We finally were repatriated on Feb 17, 1945 and we understood that this was made possible by an agreement between the American State Department and Swiss Govt. whereby two Germans were released for each American released by Switzerland.


CONFIDENTIAL

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