U.S. Intelligence Officers will be faced many times during the present
conflict with the problem of extracting information from captured German
prisoners. The Germans have, in general, issued to their troops security
instructions similar to our own. In the past, however, the British have on
innumerable occasions found German prisoners of war to be a rich source of
vital intelligence of all
sorts (see Tactical and Technical Trends, No. 9, p. 31). Evidence
that German military authorities are taking measures to correct the undue
loquacity of their troops subsequent to capture is afforded by the following order
issued by Marshal Rommel to his troops in North Africa.
"H.Q. of Armored Group, Africa.
Subject: Behavior of soldiers taken prisoner of war.
"From the attached translation of three enemy news sheets of the 2nd South African Division, it
regrettably appears that German prisoners of war have talked inexcusably.
"On receipt of these examples the troops will be instructed in detail how
a soldier who is unfortunately taken prisoner of war is to behave. The chief
principle at interrogation is, that apart from the personalia (name, date of
birth, birth-place, rank) no further information may be given. As response to
further questioning, the following will be the reply:
"'I cannot answer any further questions.'
"In conversation with other German prisoners of war who are not known, the
greatest reserve will be exercised, as the English use agents in German
uniform to listen to prisoners.
"Furthermore, under no circumstances may soldiers who are taken prisoners of
war - after the usual destruction of all service papers - allow diaries or
letters from home (from which, for example, conclusions may be drawn as to
food worries, air-raid damage and the like) to fall into enemy hands.
"The German soldier who is taken prisoner must prove that even in this
disagreeable situation he does not lose his proud, superior bearing."