In A Death Camp

Discussion in 'Veteran Accounts' started by markinbelfast, Dec 6, 2004.

  1. markinbelfast

    markinbelfast Senior Member
    My mental torture as Nazi slave

    By Andrew Bushe

    05 December 2004
    THIS is the frail 85-year-old pensioner who is seeking compensation for being forced to work as a Nazi slave labourer in a "hell-hole".

    Co Down-based Isaac Christopher Ryan is seeking damages for the terrible suffering he endured, when he was held for more than two years in an SS-run slave camp during WWII.

    Mr Ryan, a former merchant seaman, was chief prosecution witness against some of his Gestapo guards at a 1947 war crimes trial.

    He was an engineering officer on a cargo vessel seized by a Nazi raiding ship, in the Indian Ocean in 1941.

    In 1943, he was one of 28 Irishmen taken by the Gestapo from a detention camp to the notorious Bremen-Farge Arbeitserziehungslager slave camp.

    Mr Ryan and his Irish colleagues were given the choice of relinquishing their internee status and being set 'free'.

    But 'freedom' meant choosing to work in German industry, or serving in the German military.

    Mr Ryan, who lives in Rostrevor, but who comes originally from Waterford, flatly turned it down.

    "We were delivered into the hands of the Gestapo to be re-educated in the 'work ethic'," he recalled.

    He was forced to work 18 hours a day on a starvation diet, building a railway to supply a U-boat base, along with slave labourers from occupied countries.

    He described the slave camp as a "terrible hell-hole" where they witnessed frequent beatings and atrocities.

    Held in the camp for 26 months until the war ended, Mr Ryan said: "We were exceedingly lucky that we ever got out of Farge alive. The mental torture endured by us nearly reached breaking point."

    In May 1944, Mr Ryan nearly died when he fell victim to an epidemic of typhoid in the camp. He also got tuberculosis in both lungs.

    His first application to the Swiss-based Forced Labour Compensation Programme was turned down.

    The scheme is jointly funded by the German government and industry and is administered by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) to compensate victims of the Nazis.

    More than 77,000 people worldwide have received slave labour compensation payments under the 5.1 billion euro scheme.

    After further research to back up his case, and clarification that he was an "internee" and not a PoW, his claim has now being resubmitted, by Peter Mulvany of the Irish Seamen's Relatives Association.

    The Irish Department of Foreign Affairs has been asked to make representations on Mr Ryan's behalf with the IOM appeals body.

    So far, only three Irish claims for slave labour compensation have been approved, including an award to a Dublin man and to relatives of a merchant seaman from Londonderry.
  2. Kiwiwriter

    Kiwiwriter Very Senior Member

    Horrific story. What ship was he on? I could find out how and when he was captured, and by which German raider.
  3. frozenazz

    frozenazz Junior Member

    interesting story MArk

Share This Page