BLACK BREAD AND BARBED WIRE : PRISONERS IN THE FIRST WORLD WAR.

Moynihan, Michael (Ed.).


£20.00




Leo Cooper, 1st ed., 1978. Xvii + 188 pp. D.j., 22 x 14cm. Nr.FINE. This book fills a former gap in history books on the ordeals of Prisoners of War in German camps from 1914-18. Based on the diaries and journals of seven representative POWs, it tells of near starvation, brutal punishments and extreme forced labour. There is clear evidence of flagrant disregard by the Germans for international agreements on the treatment of POWs, confident as they were that they would be the victors and not held responsible for their actions. That their Turkish allies were guilty of even greater barbarity is revealed in the horrific last chapter. All but one of these accounts are by other rank POWs. That by an officer suggests a totally different world. Officer POWs retained batmen to look after them, lived in relatively comfortable quarters and rarely went hungry. But behind the fa'ade of theatricals, sporting events and lectures, lurked despair. What emerges from this book is a strong spirit of defiance, a constant battle of wits in which attempts at escape played a much smaller part than is popularly believed.


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