I n G e r m a n y ( 1 9 1 4 – 1 8 )
The story of Cyril King‘s incarceration in Ruhleben for the duration of the war must be completed. This is the final part of his journal dated October 28th 1917, and conjures up an air of staleness. The novelty has worn off.
“Everything has seen its best days and is carried on rather mechanically and professionally. The old enthusiasm has died. ‘Family’ life has become rather a strain. We sit over our meals vacantly and in silence – every topic of conversation having been exhausted…
The camp is littered with dead and broken friendships and no one has a scrap of energy left.”
There were of course many attempts at escape, some of which were successful. But the thought of being transferred to a worse camp if caught deterred many, including King.
“There have been many attempts at escapes, and one or two successes. Last year in fact everyone was talking of trying, but the authorities decreed that failure would be punished by a fortnight’s dark cells, followed by a removal to Havelberg, which is a much worse camp, where one would have to begin life all over again – so that it doesn’t seem worthwhile, unless one had very good plans.
In order to lessen the chances of success still further, they have instituted two ‘Appels’ (roll-calls) a day – one at 8 am and the other at 7 pm when we have to line up and march on to the racecourse to be slowly and carefully counted. It is tiresome having to get up so early, but we have reduced it to a fine art so that we don’t jump out of bed till half a minute before the barrack moves off.
The camp is much emptier now, as most of the people over 45 have been released to England and about 200 invalids have been moved to Holland.”