Conisbrough Throws Open Its Doors to German Prisoners

August 1947

South Yorkshire Times August 9, 1947

Agree With Thine Enemy
Conisbrough Throws Open Its Doors to German Prisoners

This is the story of a Emil, Willi, Hans, Max and Fritz, told to a “South Yorkshire times” reporter by a Conisbrough church worker, who is helping to make the lot of the German prisoner of war stationed near Conisbrough a little less lonely. Besides opening her home to these men she has arranged for other Conisbrough folk to entertain their friends and she has initiated an organisation in Conisbrough for sending parcels of food and clothing to their wives and mothers in Germany.

Last Christmas when permission was granted the family to receive two prisoners from Ravenfield prisoner of war camp for Christmas dinner, she and her husband knew it was to be the last Christmas before their only son joined the army, but it turned out to be the happiest Christmas Day they had spent. Two days later one of the prisoners was to return to his own country and since then the link between Conisbrough and Germany has been maintained by parcels sent out to the man’s wife at Hamburg – Altona.

Other parcels have gone to other people in the Hamburg and Cologne areas, some to prisoners relatives, others to necessitous German families recommended by the original recipients. Ten Conisbrough people join in providing content for these gift parcels.

“Their gifts,” I was told, “consists of food, principally ‘points’ foods and one clothing and one shoes which are especially in demand.

One Conisbrough woman has ‘adopted’ a widow with four little children.

“Many letters of thanks have been received and always the wish is made that the recipient could send something in return. I have received one handkerchief as a thank offering. It was a handkerchief which had been washed many times. From girls we get requests for British girls to correspond with them and where there are children we are asked for chewing gum.”

This Conisbrough woman has undertaken this duty of entertaining prisoners from Christian motives, and believes that the first essential for securing peace should be an extension of the hand of friendship on our part.

At Conanby too, many people, I was told, were opening their doors to prisoners.

Emil is now back in Germany with his wife. They live in one room in a flat, without a bed. He was a major in the Wehrmacht. In appreciation of the kindness shown to him, he and his friends would help with the housework. In the absence of his English friends he whitewashed the coal house. Local folk trust these visitors so completely when they go on holiday they leave them the house key.

Bearded Fritz is an artist of distinction. He has exhibited at Prague. At Ravenfield he helped produce the Newspaper. From the house of other Conisbrough friends in low Road he made a linocut of Conisbrough Castle. It was reproduced in the Journal, and Conisbrough friends have proofs from the cut.

Willie, Hans and Max were from Thrybergh Camp, now closed. They had their first real introduction to English life at a musical service at Mexborough Methodist Church and afterwards at tea at the Manse. Later Willi and Hans, moved to high Green, were billeted out in Bawtry, and found an opportunity to visit Conisbrough.