Kriegsgefangen in Skipton is a collection of diary entries, accounts, sketches and poems written by the German POWs incarcerated in Raikeswood Camp.
When they were finally repatriated in October 1919, almost a full year after the end of the war, the Germans smuggled their work out of the camp and two of the officers, Fritz Sachsse and Willy Cossmann, compiled the material into a 330-page book, which was published in Munich in 1920.
Containing the work of around 60 officers and other ranks, the book includes descriptions of the camp and details about daily life and provides an insight into the German perspective on the war and the experience of imprisonment.
Following the publication of the book, a copy found its way to Skipton Library where it languished for many years until being rediscovered by a local historian, Alan Roberts, who began to translate the text. In 2015 Alan was joined by a team from the University of Leeds who continued the work of coordinating a translation of the full text.
In a fitting parallel with the original, the translation has become a team effort with over 30 translators, including staff and students from the University, sixth-formers from South Craven School and the Settle U3A German Group, working on the project.
The translation will be a valuable resource for historians, as very little has been written about the experiences of German military prisoners in the UK during the First World War. It will also be of particular value to members of the local community interested in the history of the town.
To follow the progress of the translation project, visit https://arts.leeds.ac.uk/kriegsgefangen
The present book has several objectives. For those dear comrades who shared many painful days far from home and behind barbed wire, and who now rejoice again in glorious freedom, it evokes memories of that strange time with all its challenges and diverse experiences. It hopes to assist all those who wish for some insight into the life of German prisoners of war. Furthermore, it offers itself as a source for historical research into the war. We also keep in mind the families of our fallen comrades: through this book, they might come to know the community in which their loved ones spent their final days.
From the introductory note to Kriegsgefangen in Skipton