The internment of SSG Melson
Life in a Swiss Prison / Concentration Camp
As far as I know, I was the first to escape out of Switzerland but was caught a week later on the Italian border. I spent a month in solitary confinement in a jail because of this escape.
I thought this imprisonment was terrible but soon after was sent to Wauwilermoos Concentration Camp and this was horrible. I was the first American there at the time and the only one speaking English. Most of the internees were Polish, maybe about forty all together. We did not have beds, and all had to sleep on the floor on 4 inches of hay and no pillows. We did have one blanket. There was no heat, hot water, soap, towels or toilet paper. We all had boils and lice to contend with.
They gave us two meals a day, the first being thick black coffee with no cream or sugar and a biscuit. The next meal was a bowl of potato soup with about an inch of potato settling in the bottom and a biscuit. Two or three times instead of the soup, they gave us a bowl of hot water with something that looked like grass floating around with absolutely no taste at all.
One rainy night our guards stayed in their sentry boxes, which gave me a chance to skip under the fence and escape. I was caught the next day and dearly paid for it as I was the first one to get away from Wauwilermoos. I was made to stand at attention day and night and grilled constantly.
From Wauwil they decided to send me to jail and solitary confinement. On the way, I pretended to be sick and kept going to the toilet. They finally let me go by myself and when the train stopped at junctions and roads, I slipped off the train, walking off as I opened the toiled door between the guards and me.
I was able to get into Lyons, France and the underground.
S/Sgt. Howard Melson