The testimony of SSG Seifert
Declassified per Executive Order 12356, Section 3.3, 735027, By NND, Date 1973
For the WAR CRIMES OFFICE
Judge Advocate Generalís Department Ė War Department
United States of America
In the matter of the imprisonment under improper conditions and the failure to provide Prisoners of War with proper food and quarters.
Perpetuation of the Testimony of S/Sgt Morris Seifert, (serial # omitted).
Taken at: Truax Field, Madison 7, Wisconsin
Date: 5 September 1945
Questions by: Robert A. Crone, Captain, A. C., (serial # omitted)
Q. Sergeant, state your name, rank, serial number, permanent home address and telephone number.
A. Morris Seifert, (information omitted), Chicago, Illinois, and my phone number is Ambassador 9749.
Q. What is the date and place of your birth?
A. November 18, 1924 in Chicago.
Q. When and where did you last enter the United States from foreign service?
A. January 25 or 26, 1945, at Boston.
Q. What is the extent of your education?
A. I had three (3) years of Sullivan High School in Chicago
Q. What group were you attached with?
A. 2nd Bomb Group, 15th Air Force
Q. Were you shot down by fighters or flak?
A. Flak over Friedrichshaven, Germany.
Q. Were you a Prisoner of War?
A. No, I was an Internee and I was in prison in Switzerland for trying to escape and then I escaped a second time.
Q. At what places were you held and state the approximate dates you were at each.
A. I was shot down 3 August 1944. We crash landed at Dubendorf, Switzerland. The Swiss took us in custody. We were in Dubendorf for a day and then we went to New Chatel, Switzerland and from the 4th of August until about the 23rd of August I was in a quarantine camp at New Chatel. From the 24th we were at Wengen and then we went to Adelboden. I canít remember how long I was there. From Adelboden I went back to Wengen and from there to Wauwilermoos and I got there about the 17th of November, 1944. I got out of there around the 13th of December or something like that.
Q. How were you liberated?
A. Adelboden was the last camp I was in. I escaped and made my way back to allied territory.
Q. State what you know of your own knowledge about the improper food and quarters and imprisonment under improper conditions while at these camps.
A. The camps were all about alike except Wauwilermoos and it was much worse. At Adelboden and Wengen we usually had a piece of bread about as big as a slice of toast and a cup of coffee with no sugar or cream for breakfast. The coffee was chickory I think. The dinner we always had some kind of soup, vegetable soup, and lettuce and potatoes. Always lettuce, potatoes and soup. We usually had something else with potatoes and soup, either rabbit meat or fish. Supper was just what was left over from dinner. At Wauwilermoos we got the same thing for breakfast. Usually bread and chickory coffee or whatever you want to call it, and for dinner was had some kind of meat or fish and potatoes and thatís about all. For supper we had potatoes and either fish or bread or something. We usually got a piece of bread in the morning that was supposed to last all day.
Q. Did you lose any weight while at these camps?
A. Not very well. They stuffed you with potatoes and it blew you up more than anything else. I donít eat potatoes any more because I canít stand the sight of them.
Q. Was your appetite always satisfied when you left the table?
A. No, very seldom.
Q. What was the reason for transferring you from Wengen to Wauwilermoos?
A. We tried to escape and I got caught.
Q. Tell me about you living conditions at Adelboden.
A. They had pretty comfortable beds in the camps and they were mostly hotels and houses. There was no heat though, but we had enough blankets. I was always warm enough. We had a quilt which was pretty thick and one (1) or two (2) blankets. We could only take a bath once every three (3) weeks.
Q. Did you always have access to the latrine?
A. Yes. That was all right.
Q. How about the other camp?
A. Adelboden and Wengen were both the same. At Wauwilermoos we slept on boards and straw with one blanket to either cover with or sleep on. There were forty six (46) men to a room with was about 30í x 100í. There were lice and rats in there. The latrine was about a block away, and it was just a slit trench. At first we had access to it all the time, but afterwards they didnít let us go out after 9 because the guys were escaping and they couldnít keep track of us. We didnít have any clean clothes to wear. You could wash and take a shower every two (2) weeks or so, and theyíd turn the water on and let you get soap all over and then theyíd say ďThatís Enough.Ē When I got caught trying to escape they put me in a civilian jail and they held you there as long as they could until the American Legation found out about it. They were usually dungeons and there wasnít enough light in them.
Q. Were you ever put in one of them?
A. Yes. I was in one for eight (8) days. According to the International Law they werenít supposed to keep us there longer than overnight or until they could transfer you to a military prison.
Q. Do you know the name of the Swiss Commandant of the Wauwilermoos camp?
A. He was a big fat Captain who was in the foreign legion for thirteen (13) years. I think he was about fifty (50) years old and was about 6í tall. I think he weight between 250 and 300 lbs. They had a little PX there and he wouldnít let any of us Americanís buy cigarettes or any of those privileges. He said we didnít want to work and we were all non-coms and we werenít supposed to. He told the guards not to give us any wood for the fire. He didnít like us.
Q. Do you know the names of any of the guards?
A. No, I donít. There were a couple of old guys that were worse than anybody else, but I donít know their names. One was a Sergeant Major and the other one was a First Sergeant or something. In the jails, all they gave us was one piece of bread in the morning and a little bowl with something in it for soup. It usually was water, which was colored and then it had potatoes. Thatís all I had for three (3) times a day. There was nothing to read and no light in there. Theyíd just turn the light on for about an hour in the evening and there was no latrine or anything else in there either. It was filthy and cold. There was a bucket in the room we had to use.
Q. Were the boards you slept on or off the floor?
A. In the dungeons there was a little bed something like a GI cot with a piece of straw on it and it was filthy. We had a blanket and it was filthy too.
S/Sgt Morris Seifert
State of: Wisconsin)
County of: Dane )
I, S/Sgt Morris Seifert, of lawful age, 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 19th day of September 1945
Frederick A. Feltz, 1st Lt., A. C.
I, Robert A. Crone, Captain, A. C., (serial # omitted), certify that S/Sgt Morris Seifert (serial # omitted), personally appeared before me on 5 September 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.
DETAILS OF ATROCITIES:
Kind of crime: imprisonment under improper conditions.
Was imprisoned in civilian jail which was like a dungeon and fed on bread and coup for eight days for committing the military offense of trying to escape. Was then transferred to a military prison where the conditions were terrible and the food was not much better. We slept on straw with extremely unsanitary conditions prevailing throughout.
HAVE YOU PREVIOUSLY BEEN QUESTIONED BY ANY MILITARY OR NAVAL AUTHORITIES ABOUT ATROCITIES OR MISTREATMENT? Yes
IF YES, by WHOM, WHERE, WHEN. British Intelligence Officer, 15 A.F. Hq., Bari, Italy.
DID YOU MAKE A SIGNED STATEMENT? Yes.