No more than (probably) eight days after their visit to Katyn, Stevenson had been removed to an unknown site, while shortly after that the two American officers, Van Vliet and Stewart, were returned to Oflag IX A/Z. Major changes were afoot in the Oflag, as the Germans were preparing to comply with the Hague Convention and were preparing a camp, in what was formerly Poland, but now incorporated into the Reich, and which had housed French officers to hold the Americans who were now flowing into the Reich after being captured in battle.
The last POW to be held in Berlin was Dr. Gilder, although, if he had been accompanied by David Suttie, the New Zealander, it would have made sense, because then the Germans would not have held him alone. As earlier mentioned, I have hypothesized that David Suttie was one of the Other Ranks brought to Katyn, and my reasoning flows as follows:
· In his November 1944 report Dr. Gilder mentions David Suttie by name as the person who was to have accompanied him. The question arises, why, in a reasonably short report, would Gilder mention the name of a person who DID NOT accompany him?
· During the stay in Berlin, Dr. Gilder mentions a batman who serviced the officers and states that he was a New Zealander.
· In his report to the Polish underground, Dr. Wodziński clearly states that a New Zealander was present.
· Finally, Witold Kawecki, the journalist who joined the group on that leg of the Wroclaw-Katyn segment of the flight, mentions an Australian in the group – perhaps New Zealand’s linkage to Australia in the British Empire allowed him to compound the two.
Perhaps, and admittedly, this is an enormous supposition, it is Sergeant Suttie, attired in British battle dress, who is visible on one of the photos included as an exhibit in the Madden Hearings. This is the only enlisted man who does not turn his face away from the autopsy being conducted before the group, which response could only be ascribed to his work in the hospital both in New Zealand and in Rottenmunster.
It is during these last days in Berlin that Dr. Gilder discovered that Stevenson had been sent to a separate location, from which he was later sent to Bologna, Italy.
Van Vliet only noted, and that in his recreated report, and not his 1952 testimony, that
One afternoon Lt. Col. Stevenson was bundled off by the Germans on about ten minutes notice. He seemed very surprised and quite uneasy as he left the Jail. We never saw or heard of him again.
However, there was no public testimony to this matter, and the report was simply placed in the record and not read into the record. It must be noted that there are several other cases during the Madden Commission Hearings when material, which might require greater discussion and lead to difficult issues, is simply placed in the record – and not read into it.
Neither did Stewart, despite not being accompanied by a US Army counsel, as the rest of the military witnesses were, make any comment pertaining to Stevenson’s removal from the Arbeit Lager in Berlin during his testimony some four months earlier. (Although generally officers were held in Oflags or Officer Lagers – the witnesses were quite clear in their reports/testimony that this was an Arbeit Lager – presumably one for individuals who were willing to cooperate with the Germans – thus the decision of the Germans to locate the witnesses there – which indicated a desire to keep them apart from any other group of POWs which was not cooperating with the Germans.).
© Krystyna Piórkowska