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Wednesday 19th January 2022  

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German magazine, Quorn POW Camp, edition 1, early August 1947

During 2021 three magazines turned up on a flea market stall in Germany which were produced by German prisoners of war at Quorn POW camp in 1947. The magazine was called ‘Keibitz’ which although translates literally in German as ‘Lapwing’, also has figurative meanings originating in German/Romany, such as ‘onlooker’, ‘lookout’ or someone who imposes themselves or their opinions whether or not they are wanted. It is thought, possibly somewhat speculatively, that the men writing the magazine used the term in its ‘onlooker’ or ‘bystander’ connotation, as they may have felt that they were living a bystander life until they were finally sent back to Germany.

At this stage the prisoners were waiting to be repatriated, but it was a slow process as Germany was not in a position to take them back. The magazines cover many topics, including the boredom, frustration, wondering what the future holds, poems book reviews, notes about local villages etc.

These are an amazing find as it wasn’t known such a magazine was produced or existed. Despite the limited amount of translation carried out so far, it is fascinating to get an insight into the lives of the prisoners and how they were feeling. It is hoped that to get full translations of some of the articles at a later date.

Attached is a scan of the first edition of the magazine from early August 1947. Using the contents page as a guide this magazine covers the following:

Page 3 – This first page is addressed ‘To the Repatriarch’. It indicates that it is a new magazine and is going to contain a bit of everything and asks them what they want in the magazine.

Page 4 – ‘The Other Side’. A reflection on the wider situation they are in.

Page 6 – ‘Logic of Fate’ A political and philosophical piece.

Page 7 – ‘Children 1947’ by Herbert Lestiboudois. Having heard from his sister Ursula who has two young children, he says that she has not heard from her husband for two years. He talks about the awful games the children play as a result of what they hear. Their pretend games include vying with each other about missing husbands, dead husbands and husbands ‘taken by the Russians.

Page 9 – ‘The future education of the German youth’. Deals with the uncertainty, their involvement in crime, sexual diseases, the high suicide rate and how many didn’t return.

Page 11 – ‘Thunderstorm’ A poem

Page 12 - Incident in Hospital’ A funny story

Page 15 – A drawing of Mountsorrel Buttercross

Page 17 – ‘Horizon 5 miles’ A description of Mountsorrel

5 Mile limit: Mountsorrel
In order to get a true impression of a person, one needs to see them in their own home and know a bit about where they come from. This also applies to other nationalities, because we can only form an impression of them when we have seen their cities, villages and churches with our own eyes, and look at traces of their history. The trick here is to make the best of one’s opportunities, and if one makes the effort to do this, one can get vivid impressions even within our five mile zone.

Mountsorrel, only a quarter of an hour from the camp, looks rather dull, boring and uninteresting at first sight. Under normal circumstances it wouldn’t occur to a visitor to bother himself much with this place, with its monotonous terraced houses and modest and not very elegant residential houses, which on first sight have little appeal.

Mountsorrel’s known history dates back to the 11th century; however, excavations have shown that the village was inhabited much earlier than this; especially fine pieces of early pottery and a rare bucket made of wood and bronze, probably of Saxon origin, are now displayed in Leicester Museum. William the Conqueror’s men ravaged through the towns and villages of England and set up a network of fortified strongholds everywhere, from which they could defend and administer the country. In that time England was forged together as a nation. Hugh Lupus, a nephew of William the Conqueror, in 1080 built a castle on the rock which overlooks present-day Mountsorrel and the Soar Valley. Nowadays on that place stands a war memorial of the World War. From here one can see lots of hamlets, whose houses seem to crowd around prosperous-looking stone-built churches like chicks around a mother hen. From the middle of the 12th century the castle was ruled by the earls of Leicester. In 1215 the recently installed royal governor joined a rebellion. The castle was besieged and razed to the ground on the king’s orders, “as a nest of Satan and a den of thieves and robbers”. This is why nothing remains of it today.

During the following centuries the village, which received the right to hold a market as early as the 13th century, had a quiet commercial existence. The market, a substantial privilege in those days, was still being held in this century. Mountsorrel was a backwater to history, but because it lies on the “Great North Road” it has borne witness to England’s history through the various armies that have passed this way.

The origin of the name Mountsorrel is subject to dispute. It is probably derived from the hill dominating the Soar Valley, called “Soar Hill. But another possibility is from “Mont Soreau” near Saumur in France, to which it shows remarkable similarities.

The symbol of the village is the Market Hall, a small round pillared hall, which was built as an assembly room in 1793 by the then lord of the manor, Sir John Danvers. A Gothic market cross that used to stand here was taken by Sir John to Swithland Park, where it stands to this day. Without doubt, the oldest and finest church here is St. Peter’s, whose huge square tower dominates the town. It is built from local granite in the late gothic style, and contains a manual carillon of eight bells. It is worth watching the operation of the carillon, which is carried out most evenings by the local men. Through sustained practice complete melodies are achievable.

Mountsorrel is well-known because of its quarry which produces an especially hard granite, whose reddish hue lends character to many local buildings. There’s actually a lot more to say about this small unremarkable place: the Rolls-Royce branch factory: the canal and lock system which provides access by water to anywhere in England; whose towpaths now provide much-loved walks; the old mill by the weir which was running in the 13th century and was only shut down in 1930. One needs some effort and sensitivity to appreciate the pleasure of these things. If just one or two people remove their blinkers and experience these walks then the purpose of this essay is fulfilled.


Page 19 – ‘The Red Thread: Europe and the International’ Discussions about the future for a united Europe and a European federation

Page 21 – A poem about a fox

Page 22 – ‘On the Bookboard’ Book reviews

Page 24 – ‘On the Edge’ A few comments and continuations of articles from previous pages.

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 Submitted on: 2021-10-01
 Submitted by: Sue Templeman, translation assistance from Dave Collier and Danny Kreft
 Artefact ID: 2468

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