8 Replies Latest reply on May 10, 2018 12:51 PM by Rebecca Collier

    POW Investigation, WW II

    Dave Kerr Wayfarer

      According to the Boston Globe, 2 July 2001, "in July 1945 Eisenhower ordered a comprehensive review into whether enemy prisoners in Europe had been killed or mistreated by US forces, dismissing as unacceptable the excuse: I was just following orders."  Apparently that report was completed on 31 December 1945.  Does NARA II have the report in its archives?

        • Re: POW Investigation, WW II
          Dave Kerr Wayfarer

          According to Tim Mulligan's "WW II Guide to Records Relating to U.S. Military Participation", Volume 2, page 687,

          the documentation of an incident resulting in the death of 127 German POWs by suffocation "are located among SHAEF records, RG 331, in files SHAEF SGS 383.6/10 and SHAEF G-1 383.6/3-16.  Records of the theater

          Inspector General's investigation into the incidents, including verbatim testimony of witnesses, are located in ETOUSA records, RG 498, in the Adjutant General's formerly security-classified decimal correspondence file, 1942-46, decimal 333.5".  

           

          The IG investigationt above may be the Ike-commissioned report I am seeking, which, according to the Globe, also addressed the incident of American troops shooting of SS Guards at Dachau on 29 April 1945.

            • Re: POW Investigation, WW II
              Rebecca Collier Navigator

              Dear Mr. Kerr,

               

              Thank you for posting your request to History Hub!

               

              We searched the SHAEF Office of the Chief of Staff General Correspondence Files in the Records of Allied Operational and Occupation Headquarters, World War II (Record Group 331) and located investigation results listed in file unit titled 383.6/10 Treatment of Military POWs Held by Allies. We also searched the Records of Headquarters, European Theater of Operations, United States Army (Record Group 498) and located several series of Inspector General records regarding investigations of POW mistreatment and deaths. In the Records of U.S. Army Operational, Tactical, and Support Organizations (World War II and Thereafter) (Record Group 338), there are Seventh Army Inspector General Reports of Investigations that include records concerning POW mistreatment.

               

              As you can see, investigations were continuously reported by different Inspector Generals of the Army hierarchy to SHAEF as needed but none of these include an investigation requested by Eisenhower in July 1945 and the results reported on December 31, 1945. Please provide us with a copy of the Boston Globe article and/or more specific information about the circumstances of the investigation and we will gladly continue our search to locate the report.

               

              We hope this information is helpful.

              3 of 3 people found this helpful
                • Re: POW Investigation, WW II
                  Dave Kerr Wayfarer

                  Thank you for the thorough search, Rebecca.

                   

                  Here are the relevant quotes from the 2001 Globe article:

                   

                  "Indeed, in July 1945 Eisenhower ordered a comprehensive review into whether enemy prisoners in Europe had been killed or mistreated by US forces, dismissing as unacceptable the excuse: I was just following orders."

                   

                  "In any case, when the results of the Eisenhower-ordered investigation were filed on the last day of 1945, the asphyxiations in the POW boxcars and the shootings in the coal yard at Dachau were noted prominently. In the report, compiled on an old manual typewriter, both incidents were set apart in unmistakable red ink."

                   

                  http://graphics.boston.com/globe/nation/packages/secret_history/index5_5.shtml

                   

                  And:

                   

                  "In any event, when the Eisenhower investigation into the American treatment of German POWs was completed at the end of 1945, Colonel Charles L. Decker, an acting deputy judge advocate, said officials doubted that convictions could ever be obtained.

                   

                  '''It appears that there was a violation of the letter of international law, in that the SS guards seem to have been shot without trial,' Decker wrote. 'But in the light of the conditions which greeted the eyes of the first combat troops to reach Dachau, it is not believed that justice or equity demand that the difficult and perhaps impossible task of fixing individual responsibility now be undertaken.'''

                   

                  http://graphics.boston.com/globe/nation/packages/secret_history/index5_8.shtml

                   

                  The Decker memorandum may be the key to locating the correct IG report.

                   

                  I sincerely appreciate your efforts and those of all of the good folks at NARA II.

                   

                   

                  Dave

                    • Re: POW Investigation, WW II
                      Dave Kerr Wayfarer

                      It appears this section of RG 498 may be worth a close look:

                       

                      https://catalog.archives.gov/id/5896656

                       

                      We can definitively rule out the IG reports in RG 338.

                       

                       

                      Dave

                        • Re: POW Investigation, WW II
                          Dave Kerr Wayfarer

                          I just found this in the notes of Rick Atkinson's The Guns at Last Light:

                           

                          The Seventh Army inspector general:  memo, DDE, "Mistreatment of Prisoners of War,"

                          July 18, 1945, NARA RG 498, ETO SGS classified gen'l corr., 383.6, box 51.

                           

                          "Report on Results of Investigation into Mistreatment of Prisoners of War by U.S. Forces,"

                          December 31, 1945.  NARA RG 498, ETO SGS classified gen'l corr 383.6, box 51.

                           

                          Page 804, notes 613, Guns at Last Light.

                            • Re: POW Investigation, WW II
                              Rebecca Collier Navigator

                              Dear Mr. Kerr,

                               

                              Thank you for posting your follow-up request on History Hub!

                               

                              We searched the citation provided and it was just the memo. The report was not filed with it but the memo included a notation about the Theater Judge Advocate. In the General Correspondence Files, 1942 - 8/1945 of the Office of the Theater JAG, filed in a file unit titled “383.6 Prisoner of War [Investigation of Treatment of POWs by U.S. Forces],” we located a 4-page summary report dated 31 December 1945 and approximately 350 pages of background material. For access to this report and the additional documents, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference via archives2reference@nara.gov.

                               

                              We hope this information is helpful. Best of luck with your research!

                               

                              3 of 3 people found this helpful
                                • Re: POW Investigation, WW II
                                  Dave Kerr Wayfarer

                                  Thank you again, Rebecca, for the thorough search.

                                   

                                  Just to clarify, the 4 page summary report and the 350 pages of background material are in

                                  RG 498, 383.6, not RG 331?

                                   

                                  And the Ike memo is in RG 331?

                                   

                                   

                                  Dave

                                    • Re: POW Investigation, WW II
                                      Rebecca Collier Navigator

                                      Dear Mr. Kerr,

                                       

                                      Thank you for posting your second follow-up request to History Hub!

                                       

                                      The memo that was mentioned in Guns at Last Light,Seventh Army Inspector General:  memo, DDE, "Mistreatment of Prisoners of War," July 18, 1945, NARA RG 498, ETO SGS classified gen'l corr., 383.6, box 51.” was located in RG 498, Secretary, General Staff (SGS), Classified General Correspondence, 1945 - 1946 [UD 19] but the summary report was not attached to it. This same memo was also located in RG 331, SHAEF, General Correspondence Files, 5/1943 - 1945 in the file unit titled “383.6/10 Treatment of POWs.” Eisenhower’s request of July 1945 was not located in the file.

                                       

                                      We searched RG 498 in the series titled General Correspondence Files, 1942 - 8/1945 of the Office of the European Theater JAG, and located a file unit titled “383.6 Prisoner of War [Investigation of Treatment of POWs by U.S. Forces].” In this file unit, we located a 4-page summary report dated 31 December 1945 that included the memo mentioned above plus approximately 350 pages of background material.

                                       

                                      For access to this report and the additional documents, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference via archives2reference@nara.gov.

                                       

                                      We hope that this information is helpful. Best of luck with your research!

                                       

                                      3 of 3 people found this helpful