Manchester Evening News – British Kindness to Germans: Tributes from Foes at Stobs Camp
16 October 1915
A visitor to Stobs Camp where 4,000 German sailors and soldiers are interned, relates in the “Scotsman” how these prisoners of war speak in terms of unqualified praise of the justice of their wardens. The writer was able to see the inside of this Camp because he had legal business with one of the prisoners, and no restrictions were placed in the way of free intercourse with other inmates. The visitor says:
“The vast compound was alive with strollers. A band, equal to the Guards’ Band in London or Windsor, played a skilled conductor. My client, who is the son of a wealthy Westphalian landed proprietor, was very popular, and insisted upon introducing many interesting prisoners, whose bright, cheerful faces were a sure index to the humane treatment they are receiving at the hands of their British guardians. There were sailors captured from submarines, who paid a handsome tribute to the Naval officers who had bound up their wounds on the high seas where no medical assistance was within call.
Prussian soldiers, over six feet high — splendidly built, with their light blue laughing eyes who were the flower of the Imperial Guard, told me in tones of genuine admiration and thankfulness how Scottish soldiers had shared their rations and comforts with their famished captives, almost starving, after a desperate time in an isolated trench cut off from all communication with the German brigade to which they belonged.
A Bavarian artilleryman, who had listened attentively to recitals of considerateness without taking part in the conversation, chimed in with a touching episode worthy of being recorded.
“Yes,” he said, “we have been taught to hate the English. But it is all wrong. I see clearly now that you love freedom, and are not selfish, and are quite friendly to the German peoples, which is different from friendship for the Governments who rule over us, and have sacrificed our brothers in this terrible struggle for world power. I was badly wounded. A British officer, seeing me in pain jumped off his horse, place me on the saddle, and himself led the horse until we came within touch of a Red Cross ambulance. That is an instance of many, and I now ask one favour of all of us. Will you get teachers to come to the Camp and give us each day lessons in English. Some know a little. We must improve ourselves in captivity and learn more.”
A Saxon engineer interested me quite as much by his intelligent outlook as by the philosophical bent of his mind. He was a native of Dresden, trained as an architect and surveyor.
“What strikes me most of all.” said he, “is the magnanimity of the British. They are without spite; no meanness, or thirst for revenge; they are unselfish and humane. This camp is a wonderful gymnasium. Here I study human nature. Here I learn with my own eyes and ears the foundations of the British Empire. The secret is that constant and perpetual wish to render to every man his due. Here our Commandant treats us all equally. The son of a prince has just the same fair treatment as the son of the peasant.”
A tour round the huts showed how completely the health of all was being considered, and every effort made to reduce the — confinement, short of liberty.
The Southern Reporter – German Prisoners at Stobs: Magnanimity of the British
21 October 1915