An important collection of 19 photographs documenting theater performances by prisoners that took place in the Stalag camps and program for a theater performance that was released in the POW camp THEATRE DES DU STALAG XIII C - Stalag Theater XIII C - A for a theater play that was staged in the Stalag POW camp during WWII, with the participation of the camp inmates. stencil print on simple paper. Ink stamp of the camp. Illustrations and program of the show - music, tango, and more.
During World War II, Nazi Germany sought to maintain the semblance of international law, thus establishing camps for prisoners of war from Allied armies from the Western countries called Stalag (StaLag, short for Stammlager - a main camp with sub-camps). According to the Third Geneva Convention of 1929, these camps were intended only for prisoners of war, not for civilians. The Red Cross was allowed to visit the camps and the prisoners were treated relatively reasonably. Due to conditions that allowed hours of "leisure" during the day, the prisoners engaged in cultural activities in order to lift their spirits.
The theater in the camp was one of the ways in which prisoners of war were able to express their freedom creatively despite the harsh conditions of detention. Former Stalag camp inmate Andrea Kosternig put it this way: "Theater and dance have been used to bring a little joy to the gloom of everyday life and to enlighten the eyes of spectators." Each nation in the camp had its own theater. For example, the "French Theater", the "British Theater" and others, which took place in the camp for a relatively long time. The existence of theatrical performances has been approved under Article 17 of the Geneva Convention which allows for the intellectual needs of prisoners of war, and is what enabled the theater to develop in the camps. The same section reads: "The fighters shall encourage as much as possible the organization of the intellectual and sporting occupations of the prisoners of war." Theater groups were formed spontaneously by prisoners whose singing skills stood out especially at night. There were "stalags" in which prisoners were given complete freedom to perform, and theater stages and backdrops were even placed in them (such was Stalag - X-B for example). There were groups that during the war years performed 230 plays, and there were even some that performed more. The activity that took place in these theaters - the 'actors', the scenery, the orchestra, and the performances is clearly visible in the rare collection of photographs before us.
For many of the prisoners the pursuit of recreation and leisure was a matter of saving lives literally, as it is the only thing that lifted their spirits, to continue to fight for freedom. Eve Durand in his book "The Daily Life of Prisoners of War" (Paris 1987) writes: "The collective life of the camps gave birth to spiritual, cultural and sporting events, with varying degrees of sophistication but often of incredible quality. These attest to the extraordinary resources from which the human spirit can draw even In the most difficult situations. " (P. 173).
It should be noted, however, that the fate of most of the Stalag prisoners was difficult, and even these did not help to save them. Russian and Polish POWs were often sent to concentration camps, including Auschwitz. Starvation was a deliberate policy in the stalagmites, especially with regard to Soviet POWs. The camps included a field surrounded by barbed wire, in which thousands of people were crammed. There was usually no place to sit or lie down. Also, there was often no shelter from the weather which was very cold in the Polish and Belarusian winters. The food provided was too little to keep the prisoners alive. Prisoners of different nationalities were usually separated from each other by barbed wire fences that distributed each stalag to the nation separately. Throughout Stalag, the German army set up sub-camps called Arbeitskommando to hold prisoners near specific workplaces, whether factories, coal mines, quarries, farms, or railroad maintenance, where they were employed most of the day in forced labor. The largest German POW camp in World War II was Stalag VII-A in Mossburg, Germany. More than 130,000 Allied troops were imprisoned there. The 17th SS Panzer on April 29, 1945. (One of the heroic stories of World War II took place in Stalag Luft III, a large POW camp near Sagan, Silesia, Germany (now Jagan, Poland), where an organized escape took place. On March 24, 1944, 76 Allied prisoners escaped through a 110-meter-long tunnel, 73 of which were recaptured within two weeks, and 50 of them were executed by Hitler on Stalag Loft III's murders. Event).
On the cultural and theatrical life of the Stalag POW camp and photographs of prisoners disguised as theater figures see here
And see also Kusternig, Andréas, “Between University and Resistance: French Prison Officers at Camp XVIII A in Edelbach” [Between University and Resistance: French POW Officers in Camp XVIII A in Edelbach] in Catherine, Jean-Claude (ed.), The Captivity of War Prisoners: History, Art and Memory, 1939-1945, Rennes University Press, Rennes, 2008, p. 58.
* 19 photographs, some of them stamped on the back with the ink stamp of the various Stalag camps, and Nazi stamps. 9x14 cm. Good condition.
* program  pages. Tear along the second page without damaging text. Good condition.