This magazine was produced by British prisoners of war, who had done such a good job producing nine issues of In Ruhleben Camp in 1915, that they changed the title starting in 1916 and spared no good humour in getting out this special issue for Christmas. Here they liken their Spandau prison camp to a holiday resort. While there were some less-ambitious ‘trench magazines’ during the war, this publication isn’t one: the prisoners were strictly civilians who happened to live in Germany or survivors from fishing boats that were sunk by the German Navy when the conflict broke out. At least 100,000 non-soldiers were interned throughout the country, but this famous community numbered about 5,500. Trying their best to enjoy their enforced accommodation, the Ruhleben men (no women) formed their own entertainment groups with drama, football, and music. By the illustration of page 61, one assumes that a few of the guys ‘blacked-up’ their faces to form what was called a Negro minstrel show of topical music and jokes. Despite the intended jollity and public relations to the outside world, there were attempted escapes. An exhibition on the ‘Ruhlebenites’ was held in Central Hall, Westminster, in 1919.
- Article by:
- Vincent Trott
- Representation and memory
How did prose authors represent World War One? From works of optimism and patriotism to disillusionment and criticism, Vincent Trott looks at a range of voices from across Europe.