On Friday 6th November 1914, the mass internment of British civilians living in Germany began, many of them Scots. For the next four years, some 5500 British and Commonwealth citizens were imprisoned at the Ruhleben camp, a converted racecourse just a few miles from Berlin, with many not seeing release until the end of the war. Whilst the common belief was “it will all be over by Christmas”, few would have realised just how many Christmases would pass until that statement would finally ring true.
My own great uncle, John Paton, was interned at Ruhleben in late 1916, and not released until the end of 1918. I have spent several years trying to find out more about the prisoners at the camp, with so far the stories of some 2000 identified at my site, The Ruhleben Story, at http://ruhleben.tripod.com. Along the way I have accumulated some interesting cards concerning the camp, portrayed below.
Merry Christmas from Ruhleben!
And there’s a bit more about the camp in the following film!