Stalag XVII B

Stories

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"The Ides of March" from my father's diary

Prisoners in camp has a lot of idle time, and they talked a lot among themselves. About everything. Besides playing card games (usually poker or bridge), storytelling was one of their favorite pastimes. The best storytellers could describe a Thanksgiving dinner in such glorious detail that his listeners could taste everything from the roasted turkey to the fresh pumpkin pie.

The main topic was FOOD. Eating food, seeing food, smelling food, tasting food, dreaming about food.

Another popular topic was women. Girlfriends back home, pictures of beautiful girls, movie starlets, dream girls.

And rumors. About the war -- who was winning the war, when the war would end, or about whether the "Jerries" (Germans) were going to kill all the prisoners if they lost the war.

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The Rumor Mill

Besides talking, prisoners wrote letters home, and loved getting letters and packages from home. Sending and receiving mail was a complicated process involving the Red Cross and inspector and censors on both sides. It could take several months for families back home to receive a prisoner's letter, and even longer for a prisoner to get a letter or package from home. Mail call was both a happy and a sad time -- if a prisoner got letter or package, it was a cause for celebration, but not, it was pretty hard watching the others who did. 

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First package from home!

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One of my father's letters to home.

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My father kept a record of every letter and package he received from home.