locked up for years, and with an uncertain future: More than nine million people sat during the First world war in Camps. Most came as soldiers in a prisoner of war. Approximately 800,000 were normal civilians that had been at the outbreak of war, at the wrong time in the wrong place.

Where, today, in the West of Berlin, the sewage treatment plant in the air Ruhleben met with unpleasant odors, was from 1914 to 1918, the civilian internment camp of Ruhleben, for a total of 5000 male English-British and British citizens. In direct neighbourhood to the population in the suburb of Spandau, you lived on a converted harness racing track to a miserable existence behind barbed wire. The Spandau citadel is dedicated to you for 100. Anniversary of the war’s end in 1918, an exhibition.

it All began when great Britain shortly after the outbreak of war in August 1914 indiscriminately German, Austria-Hungarian, and Ottoman citizens, prisoners on the Isle of Man. Almost in a panic, the fear of enemy spies and saboteurs. The procedure was allowed to wage war under international law, and international are not uncommon. Nevertheless, the German side found these internment as an Affront.

in response, the German Imperial government set itself in November 1914, British and German-British, who had lived for decades in Germany, in Camps. Many of the British had been just on a holiday trip or on business in Germany when the war began. Added to this were the crews of British merchant ships, which had been in August 1914 in the port of Hamburg.

Of the German internment camps the by far the largest and most well-known Ruhleben. This was also due to the fact that some of the occupants were prominent. At the beginning of the war the Wagner held at Bayreuth festival. On the return journey to the UK, detained, found in the fall of many high-class musicians and wealthy Britons among the inmates of the camp. In view of this, the German commander of his facility as a “warehouse full of Gentlemen”.

The proximity to Berlin and made Ruhleben, in addition to the “propaganda camp”, so Urte Evert, the Director of the Museum in the citadel Spandau, which now shows the exhibition “neighbours behind the barbed wire – The British camp of Ruhleben”. The American Ambassador in Berlin had, until the war entrance of the USA in 1917, as a patron a close eye on the conditions of life.

The conditions in the “Ruhleben Camp” were, in fact, better than in other German civilian internment camps. Not to mention the prisoner-of-war camps in which mostly Russians under appalling conditions, were imprisoned. Nevertheless, the competent authorities of improvised in Ruhleben from the beginning. The buildings of the trotting course were not at all accommodate to accommodate several Thousand men. The prisoners at the age of 16 years had to be up close to crowded life in the former horse stables.

Initially, there were in the accommodation not even bunks, only a thin layer of straw on the cold and damp concrete floor. The only source of light consisted of two lone light bulbs on the corridor. Lack of toilets, the Narrow and in the Winter, bitter cold encouraged the spread of disease. Later on, the Situation should improve in the barracks, there were more bunk beds.

Oppressive uncertainty

was that remained as the nerve-splitting Situation of captivity. Oppressive than the General living circumstances of the prisoners felt the uncertainty. The duration of which depended primarily on the course of the war, was, therefore, not possible to predict.

Except for the limited contact with the guards or civilians who were allowed to enter as a supplier to the warehouse, were isolated the occupants from the world outside the barbed wire. Letters to family and friends of the censorship documents. The insulation and at the same time, the lack of privacy impacted the Psyche of the prisoners. Sooner or later the “barbed wire disease hit every”; some are likely to have driven the Depression in the suicide. to escape

To the, tried a lot of prisoners to deal with their Situation with a British sense of humour. Quickly an improvised orchestra, whose concerts are visited soon, even the German officers with their families. There is also a private theatre ensemble was founded and soon. The internees issued an own camp newspaper. It contained, in addition to news, the current theater program and View cartoons, the aufspießten everyday life in the camp.

Not only for the improvement of the dining plan, but to cover also “with Green and crop production, what are you locked up” founded the prisoners of a branch of the “Royal Horticultural Society”. A veritable people’s University organized language courses and scientific Lectures. Cobblers and barbers offered their services. It is a thriving, developed at the end of the internal economy of the camp; it was paid in Reichsmarks.

The German camp leadership made the British very much free space. Not only are you guaranteed full freedom of religion, it is to be confessed to the British far-reaching self-government. The “captain’s Committee” took over the entire organization of the camp, including a private police force. German soldiers cared only for the outer guard.

With the cheerful image of the TV series “Hogan’s heroes” about a fictional camp of American prisoners of war in Hitler’s Germany everyday life in the camp in Ruhleben, but had absolutely nothing in common, says Urte Evert. The camp life was marked by racism and social division. The “Gentlemen” of the camp avoided any contact with the members of the lower strata, there was also – unless they employed such internees as a servant.

The large Share of Black existing crews of British merchant ships, for example, people from excluded. The orchestra discussed whether you should take Black. The German camp administration supported such resentment and brought dark-Skinned in separate areas, where they had to white Barack the head choose.

In November 1918, ended in Ruhleben, the history of the “English camp”. From the 22. November 1918, the new city commandant of Berlin, Otto Wels, the internally – with the words dismissed: “long live the English people, the German people, long live the League live.”

“the neighbors behind barbed wire – The British camp of Ruhleben, and as a prisoner of war 1914 to 1921”; and citadel, Berlin-Spandau, to 25. November

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