I n G e r m a n y ( 1 9 1 4 – 1 8 )
Cyril King took a two year break from journal writing between October 1915 and 1917, by which time Ruhleben had grown most impressively:
28/10/17. “Two more years have rolled [by] since I wrote last. There have been no great changes in our life and we have almost forgotten the world outside. The only new institution is the Horticultural Society and it is perhaps the greatest of all and certainly works most smoothly. It has succeeded in acquiring a lease for the other half of the inside of the racecourse, and after tremendous struggles with the soil in which most of the camp joined, has turned it into a model market garden! In the summer we were able to buy lettuces, cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes and a few melons at almost nominal prices, while all over the camp there were bowers, borders and beds filled with every kind of garden flower. It makes all the difference in the world.
The school has greatly increased in size, filling a whole stone barrack and several sheds around it. It has from 1000 to 1500 pupils and about 100 teachers, several small class-rooms, a big reading-room, an office, two big lecture rooms, an arts and crafts department where people bind marvellous books, while others work in leather or hammer silver; a big science research laboratory where, as we hear, new ‘elements’ are discovered every day; a ‘wool and worsted’ shed, where they dye clothes in many colours and where someone has invented and constructed an apparently epoch-making weaving loom; an engineering shed; and a real live motor car, which is daily taken to pieces and put together again.
The theatre has seen over a hundred plays in five languages, including five by Shakespeare, two by Ibsen, one by Chekhov, two by Rostand, several by Maeterlinck, Synge, Lady Gregory, Yeats, Shaw and Galsworthy, five Gilbert and Sullivan Operas, two pantomimes, a German musical comedy, variety shows and numerable French and English farces, melodramas and other plays – nearly all completely successful and I think really awfully well done. The fortnightly chamber orchestral and choral concerts, and the weekly debates and lectures, have been continued unbrokenly, and in the summer we have had open air concerts on the promenade des Anglais.”