Effect of Internment: First-Hand Accounts

“It is very cold and wet and [we] are walking about in the house [hut] with an overcoat on… a great many sleep on a mattress or rather a straw sack which lies on the floor the damp penetrating… only 3 blankets are allowed & no more fires have been put in our huts.” (Nov 1914)

“Everybody seems to get tired of this awful monotony a great many are getting sallow looking and thin altered in their features ill tempered & nervous getting exited[sic] at nothing or fly in a temper all caused through this monotony” (Jan 1916)

Karl Berthold Robert Schonwalder. He was a German who had married an Englishwoman and lived in Bolton before the war. He kept a diary throughout his time at Knockaloe.

“Our hut floor was always damp. The sun warmed only the ‘B’ huts, they have the windows facing the south. ‘A’ huts have the windows to the north, and the sun’s rays never fall through them. in December and January the sun only comes out from behind the mountains after 9 o’clock in the morning and at 3 o’clock is already disappearing again. I felt certain that I could not for long bear it in this damp hut, in mud and slush and storms of snow and rain. In the last week of January I was struck down with a fever… After five days other prisoners brought the doctor, as I could no longer get up… My temperature was 106 degrees… I had pneumonia.”

Otto Schimming

“No one can understand what it means as a young man to spend so many years behind barbed wire, if they have not experienced this themselves. In the camp, sport became our only salvation… football, baseball and tennis, but primarily boxing”

Hans Breitenstrater. He later became a champion boxer in Germany after discovering his love of the sport at Knockaloe

“I consider myself lucky to have been there, it was not so bad, after all, we had our school and our football grounds and that was the most important thing at that time… at that time I spoke English and my best friends were the ‘sentries’ marching along the barbed wire, I often talked with them, they were all rather elderly men and they brought me in some chocolate, woollen socks, fresh collars for shirts and many other little things that really were not allowed to come in, but they were kind to me”

RL Koch
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