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Letter by GEN B.R. Legge, Military Attaché, to Colonel Divisionnaire Dolfuss, Swiss Army Adjudant General, 19 October 1944


THE MILITARY ATTACHÉ
LEGATION OF THE
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
BERN, SWITZERLAND


19th October 1944.

PERSONAL & CONFIDENTIAL

My Dear Colonel Divisionnaire,

      I should like to discuss with you at the earliest possible moment the question of removing from Camp Wauwilermoos those American aviators who are confined there for having attempted to escape.

      At the present time we have a number of men in the Wauwilermoos camp being punished for this reason. Their trial drags on; charges are never preferred promptly and they remain indefinitely in this camp mingled with soldiers of other nationality who are being punished for misdemeanors, drunkenness, insubordination and kindred offences. It would not appear just that men who have been guilty only of the honorable offence of endeavoring to rejoin their forces should be similarly punished.

      I am informed by British officers who have been prisoners of war that the punishment meted out in Switzerland for attempting to escape is more severe than that in German prisoner of war camps. I am unable to verify this but have reason to believe that it is true.

      As you probably know, we are making every effort to obtain an exchange with German prisoners of war now in Switzerland and to liquidate the question of our internees. This would be a burden off you mind as well as mine but, in the meantime, if you can ameliorate the conditions now existing at Camp Wauwilermoos, it will certainly make for better relations between our respective countries after the war is over, for I am sure that the camp as it now exists will be the cause of many complaints as soon as these men are released.

      It should also be recognized that, regardless of any repressive measures taken, our aviators will continue to attempt to escape. The proximity of the frontier, the fact that many of their comrades have already left and the call to return to battle will be too great a temptation in spite of any existing regulations or conventions, and of all the orders which I have published.

      In view of this I urge you to consider with me at the earliest practical date the removal of these men to another camp where their living conditions will be reasonable.

      I urge also that consideration be given to fixing a reasonable maximum limit to the close confinement of an internee who attempts to escape. I understand that at present 5 to 6 months confinement can be meted out for this offence depending on the military area in which the offence is committed. This is, in my opinion, excessive.

      I understand that you are on vacation at this time but should you be inclined to discuss the matter before you return to you desk I shall be glad to come and see you at once.

      With the assurance of my high esteem,

           Believe me,
                Faithfully yours,



                B.R. Legge,
                Brigadier General, U.S.A.,
                Military Attaché.

Colonel Divisionnaire Dolfuss,
Adjudant Général de
l'ARMEE SUISSE

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