Christmas stories from the archives: The Captives Christmas at Lofthouse Park

Germans allowed indulgence at their own expense

By The Newsroom
Thursday, 22nd December 2016, 9:00 am

The two or three thousand interned Germans at Lofthouse Park, near Wakefield, are to be allowed to spend Christmas as nearly as possible in the traditional German fashion.

They are all civilian prisoners at the camp now, and most of them, probably, have money enough to gratify their tastes. At any rate, when, some time ago, they were given the opportunity of earning money working (under escort) on farm lands and public works in the neighbourhood of Rothwell they exhibited no strong desire to accept the offer, and the proposal dropped through.

Now, however, that the Government have taken in hand a scheme for the greater cultivation of land, it may be that in the near future the prisoners, both at Lofthouse Park and other internment camps, will find themselves required to do work which will be both for their own good and the good of the country which shelters them.

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Meanwhile, most them are about to spend their third Christmas in captivity, and their hope, as expressed to their guards, is that it will be their last. By the way, the more truculent are not a little annoyed that Germany’s peace overtures have been rejected.

It has been noted that far fewer Christmas parcels have been received by prisoners from Germany than was the case last year and the vear before — a sign of the worse economic conditions in the Fatherland — but, judging by the loads of geese and other good things which have gone into the camp the prisoners will have no cause for complaint. Their luxuries, of course, they buy themselves and as there are numerous “moneyed” men among there will be no lack of geese, plum puddings, doughnuts, wines, and punch, such as the Germans love.

In their own country they begin Christmas with family gatherings round the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve, making merry on weak tea and rum punch. We understand that they intend to indulge themselves at Lofthouse Park in the time-honoured way on Sunday evening. The Christmas dinner is, of course, a great German institution, and tradition has it that the prime dish must consist of roast goose, stuffed with apples, chestnuts, or raisins. The German makes no call for turkey.

Considering that they are prisoners, the Germans at Lofthouse Park have reason consider themselves lucky, for they are allowed to buy luxuries which will be absent from most tables in Germany this Christmas, and possibly from many British tables, too.

In many of the huts at Lofthouse Park the inmates will regale themselves with the richest fare that money can buy. Wines will be permitted to those who care to buy them, and in that general frolic after the Christinas dinner which the Germans call the “Bunter Abend” such licence will be allowed as is consistent with the fact that they are prisoners of war.

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