Germany: [circa 1917].
Hardcover. Oblong small octavo measuring 7" x 5". Brown cloth over stiff paper boards. Contains 91 sepia-toned or black and white silver gelatin photographs measuring between 2" x 3" and 3½" x 5½" with some captions in French. Near fine album with some toning and edgewear and near fine photographs.
An album compiled by a French prisoner of war in Germany during World War I. The album remarkably captures the various elements of life, and death, in camps near Berlin, one in Müncheberg and another in the town of Zossen. Images show the camp architecture, meals, infrastructure, sleeping arrangements, medical treatments, barber shops, gardens, exercise facilities, and games of cards and rugby. With dozens of group and individual portraits including one of a prisoner garbed in a sports uniform. Particularly noteworthy are a series of photographs documenting the variety of artistic pursuits in the camp including painting, music, writing, illustration, sculpture, weaving, and theatre—with four images from a performance of Sasha Guitry's *La Prise de Berg-op-Zoom*. The prisoners are seen in costumes, posed on a stage and performing for other prisoners. There is also a special emphasis placed on the prisoners' maintenance of their cemetery, for which they would eventually sculpt an impressive memorial.
The barracks at this time, especially at Zossen, were new and housed roughly 15,000 men, with the largest group being from France, along with Russians, Irish, “Mongol Russians,” Colonial French Africans, and Indians. Prior to this the Germans had experienced an unexpected influx of prisoners and the conditions were harsh and disorganized. POWs at Zossen were allowed to write and be written to and it appears they were well-fed. The Germans encouraged the prisoners to be active and participate in exercise and athletic pursuits, which are documented throughout. The final page of the album features a pictorial postcard of the camp with a printed caption in German that loosely translates to "prisoners at Zossen."
An interesting collection of World War I POW photographs.