On the orders of the day:
Hon. L. R. LaFLECHE (Minister of National War Services): In a statement on
Monday, relating to conditions among Canadian prisoners of war in Germany, the Prime Minister referred to information recently received by the Department of External Affairs which indicated that as a result of conditions in Germany brought about by the Allied offensive, there was a definite prospect that it would be impossible to deliver parcels individually addressed to prisoners of war and that a further statement would be made by myself.
On February 15 I issued a press release explaining that, owing to the evacuation of Canadian prisoners of war in certain camps to other parts of Germany following the advance of the allied armies, it had been decided that personal parcels should not be sent by their next of kin in Canada until definite information had been received as to the camps to which they had been transferred.
All information received from the protecting power, the international Red Cross, the British and other governments has been studied by officers of my department and of other departments, including the Department of External Affairs and the Departments of National Defence, who are concerned with the welfare of Canadian prisoners of war. The present situation resulting from the recent allied drive has been carefully reviewed, and it is the unanimous opinion of these departments that having in mind the present situation in Germany, we should concentrate our efforts in getting Red Cross parcels and medical parcels to our prisoners. It is very doubtful whether individual parcels will even reach Germany, but if they do there is a danger that they may displace food and medical parcels, and also that they may fall into enemy hands. Further there is a most important fact which either is not generally known or at least seems to be overlooked, that the distribution of personally addressed parcels is made through the German postal service, which, according to reports, has been disorganized, and therefore parcel post service in Germany is virtually non-existent. It seems highly improbable that any personal or permit parcels would be delivered to the addressees. Consequently it is the recommendation of these departments that for the present no further parcels addressed to indi-
Prisoners of War