In the African
campaign about 25,000 German soldiers came in French
captivity by the end of 1944. They were first brought to
the camp Geryville. Later they were distributed to about
30 camps in Algeria, Tunisia and Morocco.
nearly all the prisoners were transferred to the French
motherland to help with reconstruction.
Parallely, from 1945
large contingents of prisoners were taken over from the
Brits and above all from the Americans.
expectations most of the prisoners transferred were
totally unable to work. Of the 103,000 prisoners in the
three camps around Dietersheim who were taken over
completely by the 7th French Company from the Americans,
32,000 were old men, women and small children, the sick
and crippled. For these emaciated people, called "déchets"
(waste) by the French, was not a piece of food stored in
the camps taken over!
Prisoners of the U.S.
camps on the Rhine meadows who hoped for the improvement
of their situation in the French camps were quickly
disappointed. At the beginning also in the French camps
prevailed hunger, violence and exploitation. Thousands
of inmates were killed.
All in all, there
were about 1,065,000 German prisoners in French custody.
The camps were scattered throughout the country.
They had to perform
various works. Among them was the mine-sweeping with a
death risk of 10 per cent, by all odds the most