A Diverse Population

Once Handforth had changed from a civilian internment camp to a military POW camp much of its previous diversity disappeared. The Turkish, Austrian, South American and Hungarian prisoners all left – either to be repatriated or to be interned on the Isle of Man. In their place a steady stream of German POWs arrived in Handforth. Nonetheless some diversity remained within this narrower prisoner body.

 

POWs
Interned Farmers in Handforth. At first glance, the diversity of the camp population was not always obvious.

 

First, there was still some religious diversity within the camp, as Protestant, Catholic and Jewish prisoners continued to form part of the camp population. Second, there was also considerable ethnic diversity amongst the German prisoners themselves. Danes, Poles and soldiers from Alsace and Lorraine all fought in the German army and as such they too were captured and interned. But this is where the similarity ended. Once imprisoned in Handforth, these different sets of POWs repeatedly came into conflict. There was a sense among many of the German prisoners that their French, Danish and Polish ‘comrades’ were unreliable; accusations that they were in the pay of the British also did the rounds.

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