November 19th 1919

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

123456789 10 – Part 11

This is the final section from Cyril King‘s journal of October 28th 1915, in which he continues his description of life in the Ruhleben camp for civilian prisoners of war:

“Societies, circles and committees have sprung up, and though there are constant quarrels and heated resignations, a very great amount of work has already been done. The stage in the grandstand has been enlarged and most extraordinarily fitted with footlights, scenery, battens, costumes, make-up, furniture and so on, and we have weekly debates, fortnightly concerts of every kind of music, fortnightly lectures and five performances of a different play almost every week, ‘variety shows’, revues, French, German, Irish and English ‘classics’, melodramas and farces – paying their way by tickets costing from one mark to twenty pfennigs each. French, German and Italian circles have been formed for debates, lectures and discussions in those languages, and the school has already about 800 pupils and almost as many teachers!

We have been able to rent the inside of the oval-shaped racecourse, and football was played on it… and cricket, on coconut matting, during the summer. There is enough space for one full-sized ground and two small ones – one of which is now used for hockey and rugger and the other two for soccer. In August and September we played tennis on a part of the racecourse itself, where by dint of constant laborious rolling and watering, eight courts have been made and kept in very good condition on the sand…

It is wonderful to be so free of money cares, and many of the conventions which seem necessarily to accompany them – the greatest plutocrats living on 20 marks a week and there being almost no distinction in dress; and it is wonderful too to know so many people so thoroughly and to be able to make all kinds of interesting acquaintances whom one would never see outside; but one longs for privacy and to be forced to work hard, instead of being always observed by someone and having more leisure than one knows how to spend.”

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