The first ordeal was solitary confinement which lasted from six to thirty days, depending on the amount of information
that the Germans thought they could obtain from the prisoner, particularly if he had been in underground activities or in
Intelligence work. Questioning was done by a German officer who spoke excellent English (usually because he had lived in the
United States) and who had a plentiful supply of American cigarettes. The "Kriegie" (Kriegie language, appearing
in quotation marks in the text, is listed at the back of the book) tried to keep his sole visitor with him a long time in
order to smoke as many of the cigarettes as possible.
The prisoner was interned in a building
which was divided into a series of cells, four feet by eight feet. Each room had for its only furniture a dilapidated bed,
a chair and a small table.
Food given to the prisoner was an indigestible, small amount. For breakfast,
there were two pieces of black bread, dyed in the middle to resemble jam, and "ersatz" tea. At lunch, there were
a few small potatoes and a weak cabbage soup. In the evening, the prisoner received the same unappetizing meal as at breakfast.
Interrogation in solitary confinement in solitary confinement ended with assignment to a Stalag.
Upon entering the barbed wire enclosure, the new Kriegie found a community with its own language, customs and code of ethics.
Being captive on enemy soil made a bond that held these men together and was strengthened by a common cause. Tolerance and
consideration for others grew from the confinement and restricted life.
Since the English
officers were the first prisoners to be captured, they originated most of the rules. In the camps, officers of all Allied
nations were represented. Some Kriegies were slow to adapt to the social conditions established by fellow prisoners who had
been in captivity two years or more. Any reluctance to adapt to these rules was usually cured by the "Silent Treatment."
LT. CARL HENRY
A cartoon by the Belgian officer, Fl. Lt. Henry Picard, who lost his life in
an attempt to escape from Stalag Luft III.
the prisoner had to develop talents and latent skills to provide the necessities of life. Materials from Red Cross parcels
were converted into tools such as hack saws from the steel bands around the cardboard cartons. Canadian packing
crates of plywood yielded cupboards and room furniture. Another source of supply was the heavy wooden boxes in which
the Y.M.C.A. shipped school supplies.
Tin cans supplemented by barbed wire were converted into practical appliances such
as cracker-grinders, stoves and even ovens. Thus, assorted types of packaging furnished the prisoner a variety
Prison life is a phase of war of which little is generally known although
it was history in the making. These drawings made during imprisonment represent a sincere effort to portray, to the
American people and especially to relatives of prisoners, intimate glimpses of Kriegie daily life. Many of these pictures
had to be concealed in the prison camp to safeguard them against confiscation by the Germans.
A number of sketches were
lost on forced marches and in attempts to mail them home.
All drawings shown in this book were carried in preference
to food and thus preserved for publication.