Prisoner Exchange

The first mention of prisoner exchange in the Stobsiade is in a civilian edition 1. The principle behind the process as it affected Stobs was that military personnel who had reached the normal age for leaving the armed forces and who were suffering from serious health conditions would be given the opportunity to go to Switzerland or the Netherlands (both neutral countries in the war). Equivalent arrangements were in force for allied prisoners in Germany. Prisoners requesting exchange were subject to health inspections by Swiss doctors. While this was undoubtedly a humane policy, the impact in the camp was very disruptive, as can be seen from various articles in the paper 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10. The process of exchange affected almost all activities in the camp- teachers and pupils left the school, potential exhibitors left before exhibitions, footballers and gymnastic instructors left – as did some of the editorial staff of the Stobsiade. The prisoners who had left were subject to further medical examinations, with the possibility of rejection. This must have been particularly galling for the 501 prisoners who left Stobs only to be returned at a later date 11.