Activities

The humorous poem “A Letter of Lament” expresses the difficulty encountered because people were so absorbed in activities that they never had any time to spare1. There were certainly many opportunities for people to keep themselves busy, especially as the relatively liberal regime meant that people were not constantly behind barbed wire. In addition to the activities detailed in the following sections, people who had occupations in civilian lives - “blacksmiths, carpenters, shoemakers, tailors, bookbinders, watchmakers, bakers, photographers, barbers” etc. were able to practice their professions within the camp2. Within the boundaries of the camp there were two ponds, and there was even a “shipyard” which made small boats to sail there3. Many ship models were displayed in the exhibition, but one which was made subsequently was singled out for particular praise4.

A team of men dedicated themselves to building bridges – three in all – in the surrounding area. The first one was made of wood, while the second and third ones were stone-built 5.

Starting in February 1918 constructions6, as a result of increased costs, it was agreed with the authorities that the men would be permitted to fell trees to provide the wood needed for cooking and baking. This proved to be a strenuous but popular alternative to peeling potatoes7. On Ascension Day 1918 the woodcutters’ work party was turned into an excursion 8. On the 21st of June 1918 one of the woodcutters sadly died as a result of a heart attack while swimming in a reservoir to cool down9.

Although the camp apparently did not possess the means of letterpress printing, they made the best use of what they had10, even producing coloured prints11.