May ,1945 The Prisoner of War 5 BARBED-WIRE UNIVERSITIES The story of study at Stalag L u ft V I is told in an illuminated book* THE moments w foe oreg ,eternity itself cannot retrieve ,”run the words o fan old proverb .Mindful Of this ancient truth, .C.ON .so f the Roy a lAir Force ,imprisoned Stain lag L u f t V I (later 357), formed a study circle in preparation for taking examination sana so qualifying themselves for post-war app o in tm en ts. The venture became known as the Barbed -Wire University .The British Red Cross St.and John War Organ isatio n sent book sand mate rials and arranged for the d esp atch and hand lingo f examination papers 110 mean u n d e rta king when the courses 011 the "University 's ”curriculum included as many as 84 different subjects .The men behind the wire produced an illuminated prospectus, which told h o w:"T h i s unique school was formed to provide educational facilities for flying personnel interned in Germ any .The aim o f the school is to expel boredom and mental stagnation b y providing educational courses which can b e profitably put to use in post-war life .”Their Maj e sties ’Good Wishes Lord Clarendon showed Their Majesties the original man u script, and later a copy o f the prospectus w assent to Bucking ham Palace .Its receipt there was acknowledged b y Lady Katherine S eym our, Lad y-in -Waiting, w how ro te:"T h eKing and Queen have seen the illuminated book from Sta lag L u f t V I .C.ON .’sE d u cation Committee .Their Majesties are both deeply impressed b they beautiful work man ship which has been put into the book b,and they splendid courageous spirit with which it has been completed. I am to say that the Queen hopes the book le twill meet with every success.” The book did meet with great success, 10,000 copies were printed and sold in the United Kingdom .The illu min a ted prospectus has been reprinted coin lou rand is now on sale, price 2 s.,at book shops and book stalls. Stud }fin g Under Difficulties Study and examinations were carried out under incredibly difficult conditions. Five times the "Bar bed Wire University ”was moved to a different locality and each move meant a loss o f book sand afresh search for suitable accommodation a t anew camp .The Germans allowed no artificial O--F R€T ORb------ B g jg V C AKIN GAP V f ONt \Ge 88 o f enc F A C ie eerie offered through the channels sScf the Red Cross Society ir has been possible to establish ina. Prisoner of (Par Camp thte Cduca- tuxial Organisation. an outline of~ tuhich is qiv> en in the folloa>inq paqc5. J jjF j o comttrt this period of enforced lSJ military inactutttij into one of farther training is our final aim. Che principal v> teak of the scheme hoa>- e\>cr lies in iB poa>cr to provide a. distraction from Boredom and an antidote tbjTlcnlal 6 t5ffnatton.” •6. Rldcrfon.— Th isis the Foreword of the book, reproduced in facsimile. lig h tin gin prisoner o f war camps until after 4 o ’clock in the afternoon ,and as the men had to sit for their examinations between 2 p.m .and 5 p.m .,this ruling caused inconsiderable con ven ien ce. The rooms where they worked were unheated ,and frequently the temperature there dropped below freezing point. Some times there were notables o r chairs, and Red Cross cap king cases were u tilised as furn itu re.In Other Camps Sta lag L u f t V I has not, how ever, been unique in its experiences. Almost every university in other P.o.W .camps has had to contend with similar d iffi cu ltie s.At O flag V I I B the university, which was informed 1940, was the first o fits kind. I thad 17 different fa c lu tie sand a library o f 50,000 books. The officers sat for their examination sin a storeroom because it was the q u ie test place. D u rin gone examination a bag of pep p erin the store burst unexpectedly some body kicked a foo tb all a c cid e n tally ?THE ROYAL AIR FORCE SCHOOL FOR PRISONERS OF WAR, STALAG LUFT VI. obtainable from bookshops and bookstalls, pricc 2/-. The trade distributors are :—Messrs. Simpkin Marshall (1941), Ltd., 12 Old Bailey. London, E.C.4. All profits on the sale of the book will togo the Red Cross St.and John Fund far prisoners of war. through the wind o w,and as a crowning disturbance pipers held a bagpipe practice in the immediate vicinity .The illumination in the room used for study L^at u f t V I came from "fat lamps .”These ingenious little lights were made with margarine saved from the candidates ’rations, or bought with precious cigarettes from the ration of a friend ,and old suspenders used as wicks. Im pro vising a Stat lag I V B ,black chalkboard was concocted from a mixture o f tooth paste and plaster o f paris bake din a noven.E quest r ian Ingenuity aMen Stat lag 383 wishing to learn horseman ship formed a n Equestrian Society and built a dummy horse from an old wooden barrel. Occasion ally the German guards were persuaded to loan the society alive cart-horse. B y March 24th this y e arno less than 16,122 applications to take examination shad been received from British P.o.W .sin Germ any .Over long years o f captivity men whose minds might have become stag nan tin thought and warped in outlook through enforced idleness, have learn t b y their a tte n dan c eat barbed -wire universities and sta lag schools to conquer boredom and fit themselves for post-war work .LIBRARIES FOR EMPIRE REPATRIATES S E V ENcamp libraries are being given b they War Organ isatio n o f the British Red Cross and Order o f St. John to reception cen tres in this c o u n try for rep atria ted prisoners o f war o f the Dominions Forces. The books are o f a type th a tare scarce to-day b u tare in great demand .They will include v o lu mes o f standard work son travel, biography ,arts, science, classics, etc. Book son British c o u n try life are particularly popular^ The cen tres are already well supplied with fiction from their Down om in ions. BOOKS FOR THE VOYAGE Twenty -four bales o f book sand mag a zine shave been sent to Odessa b they British Red Cross St.and John Hosp ital Library Head quarters to provide reading matter for rep atria ted prisoners during their v o y age home.