World War II POW Offers Thoughts On Detainees' Conditions In Cuba
Posted January 25, 2002 7:03 a.m. EST
WILSON, N.C. — Some political leaders in Germany and Malaysia say the U.S. is treating the prisoners poorly. The Malaysian Prime Minster even said the al-Qaida suspects are suffering inhumane conditions, but one veteran who spent part of World War II as a prisoner of war in Germany has a different opinion.
"They've never had it so good. They're better off now over here than they were over in Afghanistan in those caves," Bill Bridgewater said.
The Nazis held Bridgewater as a prisoner of war during World War II.
"I was flying out of England over France and was shot down on March 25, 1944," he said.
For 13 months, Bridgewater said the German guards bullied him and the other Americans, occasionally threatening to kill them.
"You knew what guards were sadistic and who to stay away from and stay clear of," Bridgewater said.
In Germany, Americans were triple-bunked, four men to a mattress. In Cuba, each man has an eight-by-eight-foot cell.
"We had 139 men in one cell of a barracks with one stove to heat the entire barracks. We were all stacked in like sardines in bunks," he said.
Bridgewater said that from what he has seen, there is no suffering at Guantanamo Bay.
"They were trying to destroy our way of life and I don't see where they have any complaint or any leg to stand on," he said.
Bridgewater said guards from most countries routinely shave the heads of prisoners to cut the risk of lice. While it looks bad, he said it is nothing unusual.