August 31st 1919

I n   G e r m a n y   ( 1 9 1 4 – 1 8 )

123Part 4:

The 17 year-old Cyril King, having spent two months in Baden-Baden, is now suddenly taken away from his mother and sisters (who were subsequently allowed to go to Switzerland, and from there were eventually able to return to England):

“At 8 o’clock on the morning of the 6th [October] I woke up to find a policeman standing by my bedside who told me in a stolid solemn voice to ‘come with him.’ (‘Kommen sie mit.’) I could get nothing else out of him, so I obeyed. I collected as much luggage as I could and after a hasty breakfast and parting from my mother and sisters, set out with him through the admiring town for the police station.

The rest of the English colony were already assembled there and we sat together on the ground of the yard waiting for something to happen… and at one o’clock were marched off to the station… and at 2 o’clock were put into a train for Rastatt, which we reached at 8 o’clock in the evening…

Rastatt is a small garrison town in Alsace and its gaol hardly does it much credit. It consisted, as far as we were concerned, of two big bare rooms separated by a small airless courtyard – the one, our dining and sitting room, long and narrow and completely filled by 3 big wooden tables and 6 wooden benches; the other, our bedroom, square and gloomy, lighted by 3 gas jets and containing about 50 naked iron bedsteads. It was very cold and dirty and there were no washing facilities except one tap in the yard. Our meals consisted in dishes of soup or acorn coffee and a third of a loaf per day each. There was no room to move about and nothing to do except talk, grumble and play cards…

Altogether it was most unpleasant. It seemed years before we were told to get ready to go; but in reality it was only one day and two nights, making 36 hours in all!”

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