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Joined: Sun May 13, 2018 21:41

Allied Medics as POWs

Sun May 13, 2018 22:03


My father was a U.S. Army officer held at an Oflag in Poland from 1943-1945. Many of the rules of the Geneva Convention were followed at this camp--more or less, and at least until the Winter of 1944-1945.

A few of his fellow POWs were doctors, and they provided medical care for the other POWs at the camp. One of them was even occasionally sent to the POW hospital in Wollstien to assist with medical care.

The 1929 Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded & Sick in Armies in the Field states that "Personnel engaged exclusively in the collection, transport and treatment of the wounded and sick... and in the administration of medical formation and establishments...shall not be treated as prisoners of war..." if they "fall into enemy hands." It goes on to say that "they shall be sent back to the belligerent to which they belong as soon as a route for their return shall be open and military considerations permit..."

These doctors were not returned, and with the exception of one, they were not repatriated (nor did they request to be returned.)

Was it typical for the Germans to hold on to Allied doctors? Did the Germans perhaps claim that the docs were armed when captured, and therefore not "engaged exclusively" in medical care? Or, was this holding of doctors one of the Geneva Convention rules that was not followed? The doctors were much needed at the camps--could they have requested to stay on?
Thank you for any guidance!

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Joined: Fri Jun 01, 2018 06:14

Re: Allied Medics as POWs

Fri Jun 01, 2018 09:25

Members of the armed forces and others who are wounded or sick should be respected and protected in all circumstances. They will be treated humanely and they will be taken care of by the party to the conflict, in whose power they may find themselves, without any unfavorable distinction based on the field, race, nationality, religion, political opinions, or any other similar criteria. Any attempt to deprive them of their life, or violence against them, must be strictly prohibited; in particular, they should not be killed or exterminated, should not be subjected to torture or biological experiments; they will not be deliberately left without medical care and care, they will not create conditions that endanger their infection or infection.
Only urgent medical reasons determine priorities in the order of treatment.
Women will be treated with all respect for their sex. The party to the conflict, which is forced to leave the wounded or sick to the enemy, as far as military considerations permit, must leave with them some of its medical personnel and material resources to help in caring for them.

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Real Name: William Saltiel-Gracian, MPH
Location: Southeastern Texas

Re: Allied Medics as POWs

Fri Jan 25, 2019 06:55

Medical personnel (and chaplains also, for that matter) are considered to be retained persons while in enemy custody rather than (technically) prisoners-of-war. They must, per international laws, treaties and custom, be permitted to carry out their clinical duties, and may be required to lend their expertise to the treatment of enemy sick, wounded and injured. For example, photos can be found on this very website of captured German medics being put to work in their US captors' aid stations.

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