Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Letter from Home

On October 26, 1943, Obersoldat Willi Herold was one of 440 German PoWs that arrived at the Riding Mountain Park Labour Project. Willi was captured in 1942, most likely in the North African Campaign with most of his comrades at Riding Mountain.

Spending years away from their home and their families was a significant adjustment to the PoWs, the vast majority never being away from Germany for this length of time. As such, letters from home were essential in keeping up the morale of a PoW as they had no other means of communication. In Canada, the PoWs were allowed to write four postcards and two letters every month and were allowed to receive an unlimited amount of letters and parcels. Sending and receiving letters to and from Germany could be a lengthy process with some letters taking months to arrive. PoWs did have the option of sending letters and postcards by Air-Mail to speed up the process but had to pay for this service.

All PoW incoming and outgoing mail was censored before delivery to prevent PoWs from sharing military information or to prevent certain information from reaching the PoWs. A censor was employed at Riding Mountain and he was responsible for censoring all of the mail.

Sixty-eight years ago to this day, Willi Herold sat down in the camp’s recreational hall and penned out this postcard to a friend in Germany.

I’ve patiently been waiting to show this postcard since I found it for sale a few months ago. It was quite something to find a postcard written by a PoW at Riding Mountain and it has become a prized piece of my collection. The message is brief, thanking his friend for an earlier letter and mentioning how comforting it was to receive it, having spent two years as a PoW.

Shorlty after this letter was written, Willi Herold and 114 PoWs were transferred to the Ontario-Minnesota Pulp and Paper Company Labour Project at Hudson, Ontario.

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