Fort XIII

Fort XIII
Fort XIII (Wild, David. Prisoners of hope. 1992. London)

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Christmas behind barbed wires

More than 20 000 people from different countries like never before  waited for consignment from a camp post...

 Christmas time was well celebrated especially by POW's. Men from rooms and wooden huts  prepared their own Christmas dinner, sometimes small gifts, and of course interiors, were well decorated by hand made ornaments and Christmas tree. What is more, actor groups prepared special shows (concerts, dance bands, plays, pantomimes) related to Christmas tradition and very often written in the camp. For Christmas were also published special number of a camp newsletter: Prisoners Pie (or New Prisoners Pie) Very interesting is also fact that POW's assoctations in motherslands organised events like competitions for the best Christmas hand made postcard!


Front page of  the Christmas Number
The New Prisoners Pie

Front page of  the Christmas Number
The New Prisoners Pie
When it comes to the Christmas dinner, it's necessary to point out that the  Red Cross did everything within its  power to ensure that each man in enemy hands had a substitute of this special time. Before the end of July I.R.C sent off ships with special Xmas parcels which arrived to the camp mostly exactly on Christams Eve.
Christmas dinner in Fort XV 1942
Parcels were clearly marked with the word "Xmas" with a large red letter, so that they could be easily identified in Geneva and hurried throught distribution. Apart from the fourteen items in each parcel every prionser would recieve a ration of: chocolate biscuits, butter, Christmas cake, cheese, chocolate jam, beef and macaroni, steak and tomato, pudding, condensed milk, sugar, sweets, tea and soap, double ration of tobacco or cigarettes. All these parces could be augmented by extra camp rations.

Santa Claus in Stalag XXA 1942
But not only POW's waited for post. Letters and postcards came from all Europe to families and friends. Moving words and wishes supported both sides and gave hope for next days. Below part of letter from 1942

"... I hope to get some good shows going for Christmas and if the Red Cross special food parcels arrive on time and are as good as they were last year, we will manage ti have merry time. My thoughts will be especially with you on Christmas day, and from my heart a fervent little prayer will go forth - that it will be the last you and I spend apart. Please convey my warm thanks to all branches of the Red Cross, who work so indefatigably for our welfare, and so help us to maitain a cheerful outlook on life during the term of captivity."


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