Gilbert F. White
Q: Did you know French?
A: Yes, and I learned it better.
Q: How long were you over there?
A: After the Germans took over Vichy, I stayed on. I was one of, I think, two
Americans who were free to move around in a German-occupied area carrying
on relief and arranging for transfer of activities to non-American activities,
until about February '43. Then, through a misunderstanding, I turned myself
in and was taken to Germany with the Americans who'd been interned all that
time. I spent 13 months in Germany and finally in '44 was with the
American diplomatic group that was exchanged for Germans.
Q: Where were you located in Germany?
A: We were located in a gilded cage at Baden-Baden.
Q: It doesn't sound too bad if you're going to be a POW.
A: Oh, it wasn't. This was the diplomatic group in detention. We were in a fine
hotel and we had good food, considering the circumstances. I lost weight, but
it was much better food than I'd had in France, and it was a comfortable kind
of internment by comparison to what I' d been seeing in French camps.
Q: After you were released you came back to the United States and then what did
A: I continued as a volunteer with the American Friends Service Committee. I
was in charge of raising money and supplies for the sufferers from the Bengal
famine where about two million people had died-one of the least-known
tragedies of the Second World War. And for sending supplies and people to
a Friends unit that worked behind the Japanese lines in China, providing
medical services and supplies for both Mao and Chiang Kai-shek. Then I was
assistant executive secretary for the Service Committee. When the war ended,