• 8 February 1945 – PoW go on strike on Sulzbach's birthday

    ‘To celebrate my birthday the swine went on strike.'

    It was Herbert Sulzbach's 51st birthday and he had been at Comrie PoW camp as an interpreter for two weeks. No prisoners turned up to hump coal, shovel the heavy snow, or perform other duties.

    'One wonders whether an English, Polish, French, Dutch or Norwegian PoW would dare to strike in a German camp. Immediately the firing squads would march out, and in accordance with war justice the prisoner would promptly be shot dead.’

    The British camp Commandant went with his officers to the prisoners' compounds to explain the seriousness of their situation to the leaders and to ask who would break the strike. He was received in silence, but

    'As he turned to leave, the PoW shouted as with one mouth “Sieg Heil” three times, so that the camp shook. When the Polish guards heard the roaring of the prisoners, they rushed from their barracks, with guns at the ready.'

    The Commandant put the striking prisoners on seven days detention, and for three days they were allowed only bread and water - and no coal.

    Sulzbach was impressed by a Norwegian officer from the War Office who was part of the resulting Court of Enquiry. The German camp leader, 'a sergeant and a skilled SS man', was brought in front of the assembled British officers and allies and stood limply, without saluting. A British officer reprimanded him, so he lifted his arm in a Nazi salute.

    'Then the Norwegian Captain springs on top of the Nazi and roars at him in German. How dare he give the German salute to British officers? He forbids it, he roars at him again, then in Norwegian he orders him to about-turn. The Nazi stood straight as a candle and obeyed. I laughed heartily to myself.'

    Describing the events of his birthday, Sulzbach later noted in his diary that

    'Here one can see the monstrous lawlessness of the Germans, their complete lack of understanding of order and justice; every person makes his own law.'

    It would be exactly three months before the war ended.

    (picture: the interior of a Nissen hut at Comrie camp, which would have housed 80 PoW)


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