Sunday, August 30, 2009

Researching With Sensitivity

One of the areas of research that has to be done very carefully is if you have a relative that fought in any kind of war.
WWI, for many, was the first huge one that had an almost global impact in one way or another.
Many participants tried to forget the traumatic experiences they went through. Some on occasion spoke up, others never did. All would probably wish it had never happened. Never force someone to talk about their experiences. Always be considerate of their deeply buried feelings and the grief and pain that can arise. For many time never heals.
I feel greatly blessed that we have a hand written account of my grandfather's 11 months as a prisoner-of-war in Germany. He wrote it well after the event. It is a thoughtfully written account of life in the coal mines and interactions with the local population. In some ways he felt better off than they were because he at least had boots on his feet.
At some point I plan on transcribing it because the pages are now quite fragile. My mother has it so I will either have to wait till I can make another visit or have my dad send me a photocopy. It's not one of those projects you can sit down with and do in an hour.
The title page reads as follows -
"Eleven Months Behind Barbed Wire"
My experiences as a prisoner of war in Germany 1918
John W. Hall
A.B. "Drake" Batt. R.N.D.
In the following pages I have tried to give an account of my experiences while a prisoner of war in Germany in 1918. Most of this account has been compiled from memory but an experience such as this lives in the memory for a long time.

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