Welfare

The Camp Health Insurance Fund1 was established on the 20th of April 19172. The Bowling Alley, which was established by prisoners from Marugame, who had previously run one there, became an early sponsor3. The Fund’s first annual report was published in February 19184. It describes how it was established and also provides a balance sheet. An article on the task of collecting for the fund tells us that it was often demanding and unrewarding5. Fortunately money was also provided by charitable donations from outside the camp6. Support for the Fund and for other activities was subsequently organised by establishing a Camp Fund7. On the 7th of August 1918 a number of prisoners were transferred to Bando from Kurume. The Fund’s staff were able to provide them with practical help8. The people from Kurume also brought unwelcome visitors with them, in the form of bed-bugs, and this necessitated a campaign to eradicate them9.

In October 1918 there was some criticism of “representatives of the Left” who “fundamentally disagreed” with the Fund10.

The first mention of the “Spanish” flu11 occurs in the edition for the 17th of November 191812. By then it was spreading quickly through the camp. The fact that the camp had a fund and willing carers and helpers undoubtedly helped people to survive13 14. The newspaper for the 8th of December provides a summing up of how the camp coped with the epidemic15, together with obituaries for two men who died as a consequence of the disease. One was a prisoner who had attempted to escape from Marugame. He was very badly treated in Takamatsu Prison for a year and a quarter before coming to Bando16. The combined circumstances of the flu and German’s defeat in the war clearly had an impact, but they do not seem to have led to a complete collapse of morale17. By January, the news was mainly of people recovering18. The annual report of the Fund, published in February 1919 gives an account of how it coped with its various challenges19 .

Although the prisoners did not go hungry, the inflation caused by the war did have an impact on their cost of living20. The chart of the prices for the raw materials purchased by the Geba illustrates this, but it did not stop people from purchasing gingerbread and marzipan to take back home to Germany when the camp closed down21.