German Prisoners of the Great War edited by Anne Buckley and published by Pen & Sword Books – £25.00 – Hardback – Pages 352
In Munich in 1920, just after the end of the First World War, German officers who had been prisoners of war in England published a book they had written and smuggled back to Germany. Through vivid text and illustrations they describe in detail their experience of life in captivity in a camp at Skipton in Yorkshire. Their work, now translated into English for the first time, gives us a unique insight into their feelings about the war, their captors and their longing to go home.
In their own words they record the conditions, the daily routines, the food, their relationship with the prison authorities, their activities and entertainments, and their thoughts of their homeland. The challenges and privations they faced are part of their story, as is the community they created within the confines of the camp. The whole gamut of their existence is portrayed here, in particular through their drawings and cartoons which are reproduced alongside the translation.
German Prisoners of the Great War offers us a direct inside of view a hitherto neglected aspect of the wartime experience a century ago.
Sometimes as a history book blogger I review a good number of books, on the odd occasion you come across a real gem you love. I really enjoyed reading this book, I think because we as British only tend to think of prison camps in war as those we’ve seen in war films from ww2, like the Great Escape, etc. It was so interesting to read the same stories and experiences but from the other side. This book looks into practically every detail of life in a British prisoner of war camp you can think of, from everyday life, welfare and routine to the social aspect, getting along with guards and the regime they were having to learn to live under. It staggers me that we have heard little of these stories before or why they haven’t been circulated more, plus what did the authorities learn from having prison camps in WWI compared to WW2. There are some great photos inside but I have to say that I enjoyed all the prisoners artwork and drawing. The book has lots of recipes, poems, stories, menus and more. There is such a wide array of unexpected fun. At the end of the book, there is also a table of all the prisoners that were at the site and a good and detailed bibliography and notes section too. I would certainly recommend this book to all, it’s fantastic fun and detailed read.