Recently I came across mention of a WW1 German POW camp “near Kirkland” and, in the course of looking for further information, I discovered that it’s much harder to research the WW1 POW camps than those of WW2. I complained about this to the resident History Bloke, who’s a native of Carlisle, but he couldn’t help, though he knew something about WW2 camps, including another one in Cumbria.
About the same time, for light relief from research, I was dipping into books like Max Arthur’s Lest we forget, which includes an extract describing the performance of a French tenor, in the early stages of the Battle of the Somme. His singing brought about a temporary ceasefire on an admittedly quiet stretch of the Front. The writer wrote, ‘None of us dared to shoot, and suddenly we were all looking out from the trenches and applauding, and the Frenchman said, “Merci”.’
After I mentioned this anecdote to the History Bloke, as a description by “a German soldier, but not Ernst Juenger”, he looked it up and found that the writer was Herbert Sulzbach, whom he’d met some 30 years ago. Indeed, Sulzbach had sent him a book which included a piece, Inside Featherstone Park, that he had written about his role in re-educating German POWs after WW2. When he showed me the book, Total War to Total Trust, he also produced a number of clippings mentioning Sulzbach, that he had collected over the years, as well as some correspondence he had had with Sulzbach.
I was intrigued by Sulzbach’s achievements in ‘re-educating’ German prisoners of war, and, naturally, once again unable to resist this fresh detour from research. Unlike the elusive POW camp at Kirkdale, there’s quite a bit about Featherstone Park online. Northumberland Tales has a number of photos of the camp, the remains of the camp, including a Google satellite view showing the outline of the huts and a photo of the memorial to Herbert Sulzbach.
Arthur, M., Lest we forget: Forgotten Voices from 1914-1918, London, 2007, p.229-230 [Ebury Press]
Breitenstein, R., Total War to Total Trust: Personal accounts of 30 years of Anglo-German relations – the vital role of non-governmental organistions, London, 1976 [Oswald Wolff]
Corlett, C., ‘POW Camp 18 – Featherstone’, http://www.northumberland-tales.com/POW-camp-18.html, accessed 29/4/2013