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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR THE GERMAN SCENE Concentration Camps for Political Prisoners To the Editor of the Jlanchetter Guardian. Sir, I have just returned from a ten days' visit to Germany, which I made together with a friend a well-known well-known well-known public worker of long experience with the object of getting a first-hand first-hand first-hand impression on the cpot of what has actually happened in Uermany. . I arrived in Berlin on June 27. and after three days of interviews and inquiry I went, on the invitation of a friend, to Konigsberg, the capital of East Prussia, and a little over four hundred miles to the east of Berlin. The dav after mv arrival at Komtra- Komtra- berg I obtained permission to visit the prison which has been improvised to accommodate the political prisoners in the Drovince of East Prussia. The prison, which is situate on the outskirts of the city, was, previous to tne war, used as a barracks for soldiers. The buildings are surrounded by broad earthworks, which were no doubt intended for defensive purposes. Between the buildings and the earth works was a belt of grassland, with trees and foliage, some twenty yards wide. We were met at the entrance to this fort or barracks by four officials, two of whom were in uniform and two in civilian dress. The chief official, in a vfry smart blue uniform, was evidently an important military police officer. After entering the barracks we were taken to see and ask the prisoners any questions we might desire. One of the police officials, who was in civilian dress and who spoke English quite well, explained that this building was not adapted for prison purposes and that the prisoners were not intended to stay for long periods there. He said that their cases were being examined, and some were released each day if the authorities were satisfied that they would not oppose the regime. Those who were not to be released would be transferred to the concentration concentration camps such as Sonnenberg, which' I afterwards visited. He said .that since March 400 had been brought into the Konigsberg prison and that at the time of our visit there were 250. He also said that nine men had been brought there the previous day. We were first taken down some stepB to a broad underground corridor, and on one side of this corridor were a number of doors which were heavily barred and locked. The Nazi Brown Shirt who accompanied us with the officials unlocked one of the doors, and on entering we found some sixteen men, standing mostly alongside a table, where some of them had been playing draughts. The room was fairly spacious, and there were beds with mattresses and rugs against the two sides. The room was well lighted, and a large window looked out on to the grass and trees between the building and the earthworks beyond. What impressed one about the men was the immediate and sudden way in which they all stood rigidly to attention immediately the dcor was opened. Almost without exception these men gave one the impression of concentrated bitterness and resentment at their lot. We were permitted to ask, through our interpreter, interpreter, what their occupations were, and we found that most were artisans. Two were peasants, one had been a teacher, two shop assistants, and the others skilled artisans or labourers. We asked about food and bedding, and they said they had no complaint to make about either. I returned from Konisberg to Berlin on Sunday, July 2, and on Monday afternoon I was permitted, together with two American journalists, to, visit one of the largest camp3 for political prisoners at Sonnenberg. This camp is situated about 75 miles to the northwest northwest of Berlin. We travelled by a motor-car motor-car motor-car "and were accompanied by an interpreter (a Dr. amidt), who had Jived in America for many years and who, although a member of the Nazi organ isation, was not an othcial but only a voluntary worker. , We were also accompanied by an important official from the Secret Police Service Depart ment, who was in civilian dress and Tode alone in a second car. The camp at Sonnenberg is organised in what was formerly a State peni tentiary. It is situate in rural country. The formation is rectangular, with the prison buildings and administration offices forming the four sides of the rectangle and a very snacious court t exercise ground about three acres in urea in the centre. We were informed that at the time of our visit there were about 600 nolitical prisoners no criminals in the prison. Nearly all the prisoners were said to be Communists, Communists, but on beinc Dressed specifically the official in charge said the number included about forty Jews and a number of social Democrats. Among the prisoners were several Communist members of Parliament and also mem bers of town and district councils. Sonnenberg is the kind of concentration concentration camp to which are taken the men who have been seized by the Nazis and first taken to a Brown House or a local prison, and after some kind of examina tion not by a court of law but by Nazi officials it is deemed necessary to detain indefinitely. Durine our visit we saw auuut musy iresn arrivals DrouRUTj 1 . 1 1 " I f . , . 1 I in and lined up in the great central square for examination before being allocated to their respective rooms. We were first taken to a part of the buildim? where in a room about double the size of an ordinary living-room living-room living-room there were a dozen men sitting round a table mending shoes. What struck one was the apparently natural attitude of these men. They did not rise or stand to attention on our entry. They either simply, went on with their work or sat observing us with ordinary interest, but without any expression of concern or tear on their taces. They exchanged remarks with the officials in an easy and intimate manner. Iiran adjoining room there were on the floor some 200 pairs oi suues wmcu were awaiting repair, w e were lnlormed that this work was entirely voluntary on the part of the prisoners., Ihey were permitted to mend their own shoes, but not to do work which would otherwise be done by T 1 T. . . . . ordinary paia isoour. rrom tne ooot-repairing ooot-repairing ooot-repairing room -we -we were taken into several large, " cells," which accommodated accommodated from six to eight men. Each "f these cells contained a table, chairs (most of which appeared to be new), and beds arranged around the room. In most cases we noticed flowers on the tables, and the men were sitting playing playing games, reading, or lying down. Each room had a large window which looked out on the trees between the cell and the outer prison wall. None of the doors of these cells was apparently locked, and we noticed men coming and going wimoui lnienerence rrom weir own rooms to visit fellow-prisonera fellow-prisonera fellow-prisonera in other rooms or to walk" .and talk together in. the great central parade ground. From the larce cells we nassed to the large central courtyard. Hjere there were about 100 men standing or walking about in groups. The largest group was. slowly walkinR round the court, apparently for exercise. They were not accompanied by any guards, and as they walked they talked freely to one another. There were Nazi guards at the three exists to the courts. We approached one of the groups, and our interpreter invited us to put any questions we desired to the men. We ascertained that among these men were several Communist deputies and many former aldermen and councillors of municipal authorities. The chief official who had come with us from Berlin left us to talk with the prisoners through our interpreter. As we had been informed there were about 800 prisoners altogether and we had only seen about 200, we asked where the others were, and the men said they were in their rooms reading, playing playing games, or resting. We expressed a wish to speak with some of the ex-members ex-members ex-members of Parliament, and the police official. who had now returned, said "Certainly." He conducted us to a part of the prison building building where the cells were smaller than the ones we had seen and were arranged on the Dartmoor plan, round an oblong - , e i - j , 1 1- 1- circuiar iormation in tiers one aoove tne other, the doors opening on to balconies. The cells on these balconies varied in size, some being large enough for three and some for four persons. They had all a table and chairs, and beds fixed against the wall one above another. In th?se cells some of the prisoners were lying on their beds, but in, most cases they were either talking or playing games or reading. In the fourth cell we entered there were two well-known well-known well-known Berlin Communist M.P.s, Herren Rasper and Gruber. When we entered the cell they were sitting at the table playing chess with an apparently new set of chessmen. The general impression that one received was that within the prison walls the men were allowed a fairly extensive measure of liberty and free movement. They were able to come and go about without interference or military regimentation. The regulations regulations provide that the prisoners must rise at 6 a.m. From 6, to 8 a.m. they wash and clean their rooms and, if they so wish, take part in gymnaBtic exercises. At eight o'clock they breakfast. breakfast. After breakfast they are free until 12 30 to either read, exercise, work at the shoe-mending, shoe-mending, shoe-mending, or other personal work. Dinner is served at 12 30 and supper at 6 p.m. Between the meals they, are free to follow their inclinations within the prison walls. At Sonnenberg there is as yet no provision for work except that of shoe-mending. shoe-mending. shoe-mending. We were told that it is intended to utilise land near the camp upon which some of the men may be employed. We asked : " How long are these men to be kept in confinement? confinement? " The reply was " Indefinitely." Yours, &c, Ben Riley. 28, Westfield Avenue, Hudders-field, Hudders-field, Hudders-field, July 11. THE NATURE OF PACIFISM Eh. Sheppard's Attitude To the Editor of the Manchester Guardian. Sir, Speaking at a demonstration following the National Peace Congress at Oxford, Dr. Sheppaid appears not to carry his own line of thought to its logical outcome. He is reported to have said: "'You cannot be a pacifist if you really want to hurt youT fellow who does not agree with you." All true pacifists will agree with him. But it seems to me only logical to say also: "You are not 100 per cent pacifist if you want to compel your fellow who does not agree with you to act in your fashion, when he is in a majority and you in a minority." Some pacifists might go even farther and omit the last phrase. Yet Dr. Sheppard deplores the poor support given to a movement he helped to start a year or two ago. This movement movement failed to gain adherence because its very basis was an interference by a small minority into a mode of behaviour which the participants (who represent the majority view) consider to- to- be right and abstention wrong. A man fighting " in defence of his country " wants to hurt his " enemy," but not unarmed non-combatants. non-combatants. non-combatants. Intervention might therefore therefore quite well succeed in stopping him from " defending his country " in a manner abstention from which he considers considers to be wrong. Is that justifiable ? Surely pacifists who endeavour to impose their standard of behaviour on those who do not agree with them are working on futile lines. Nor will emotional appeal secuTe- secuTe- convincement of man, a reasoning animal. Only reasoning reasoning will do this. Pacifists will achieve greater success by concentrating all efforts on exposing the utter imbecility and injustice of attempting to settle disputes by physical strength, and by striking out into as wide a circle as possible namely, among the " common people" for the expression of this view. Intellectual enobberv is a greater obstacle among pacifists than the bitterness bitterness of biased conviction, which Dr. Sheppard condemns. Only by reasoned convincement can men be led to take a stand against the foolery and criminality of every kind of war which will hold firm against jingoistic nationalism and immoral legislation. It is not goodwill the world lacks that is innate in humanity, but reasoned enlightenment. Yours, &c, Caeciua E. M. PnoH. Manchester, July 11. Ihree Peaks la a Day. Mr. P. B.Waldron writes from Prescot : I notice in your issue of July 11 a paragraph on the feat of some Bolton men in ascending Ben Nevis, Scafell, and Snowdon on one day. It may interest your readers to know that this has been accomplished about half a -dozen -dozen times, commencing with Messrs. Hadfield and Cain in 1928, and I myself have done it in 1926 and 1932 within about twenty-three twenty-three twenty-three hours. On Friday, June 23, this year, I attempted the feat between sunrise and sunset, starting from the summit of Ben Mevis at 4 15 a-m. a-m. a-m. and reaching the summit of Scafell Pike at 2 p.m. and then on to Snowdon, the summit of which was reached at 11 5 pjn., heine ihr. lflmin aff-a aff-a aff-a ......... I t-i t-i t-i . . . . tune tras 13hr. Storm., and errery inch of ui.tjuj vaa aoue oy myseu in a comfortable comfortable saloon car. TO-DAY'S TO-DAY'S TO-DAY'S ARRANGEMENTS House ol CoErmonK Slipnlr Colonial Office Vote. Sr tT? BiaS,5 "V" Effects OS Smote and luBmUinp," 71. Ifccleston "I Salinas Union Lunch to Dr. Tea, at Washington Hotel, ImdoaV!l30. Transport and General Workers' Union. Cambridge. Society ot the Chemical Industry. Wearasae-cn-Tiae. Wearasae-cn-Tiae. Wearasae-cn-Tiae. Wearasae-cn-Tiae. Wearasae-cn-Tiae. National. AKceiiticn lor the Frerentian ot Tuber-CUIOSIS, Tuber-CUIOSIS, Tuber-CUIOSIS, frtrf Vermin Hoar Hotcr Rice. Sosilaa. Ida ol aha. B03Kot3hifIm1 CmSmact' TTniTCrtiti CoDeie, Stlecates School Speech-dza'. Speech-dza'. Speech-dza'. Manchester and Salford Traffic Comnussianen: 9. Core Street. ID 30." Coancery ol Lancashire: Diron t. FWianTym foart head), Aaaiie Coarts, 1Q4S. ...uwiiih or uaatity orxaruxationa and Aaabors HalL In sn? thwLT if lS1 Ita anre-M anre-M anre-M Social Serried " auachetter Grammar School. Old Hall Lane. 7 45. - Sport Ctldtmlj-ZmBnaSi Ctldtmlj-ZmBnaSi Ctldtmlj-ZmBnaSi r. Wert Indie?. Old SraSnrd. (third day). - - -- -- Lava Tennis: BrooUaada Tournament" (ccattnned.

Clipped from The Guardian14 Jul 1933, FriPage 18

The Guardian (London, Greater London, England)14 Jul 1933, FriPage 18
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