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Red Cross Parcels (Disposal)

Volume 416: debated on Thursday 12 April 1945

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asked the Secretary of State for War how many British Red Cross parcels intended for. prisoners of war have been released for other purposes; how many additional parcels it is still intended to release; whether care is exercised to prevent these parcels going to the black market or to German citizens who have existed during the war upon the plunder of territories under Nazi occupation; and whether any priority is given in the distribution of these parcels to anti-Nazi prisoners who are or were formerly in concentration camps.

The British Red Cross War Organisation had nearly 10,000,000 food parcels originally intended for prisoners of war from the British Commonwealth surplus at the end of hostilities. Two hundred thousand of these were sent to the Channel Islands for relief purposes following the end of the German occupation and were additional to those sent during that occupation; 384,000 were given to the Norwegian Red Cross for relief in Norway; 1,150,000 were given to British Red Cross Commissioners in North-West and Southern Europe for relief in liberated countries; and the remainder amounting to about 8,000,000 were handed over to the Allied Military authorities for the relief of released Allied prisoners of war and displaced persons. No food parcels remain at the disposal of the British Red Cross War Organisation. Without detailed inquiries, which I do not feel justified in making, I cannot say how many parcels remain undistributed with the authorities in Europe.Red Cross parcels have been issued to displaced persons in assembly centres, in the British and American zones in Germany to supplement food from local and military sources. The military authorities are fully alive to the illegal practices of the black market and to the possibility of illegal distribution of food to German nationals, and all possible steps are taken to prevent these things happening. All persons in displaced persons assembly centres are treated alike in the matter of food distribution and no individuals or groups receive any priority. The policy of the Control Commission is that ex-inmates of concentration camps outside displaced persons assembly centres should received preferential rations. There are now no concentration camps in Germany.