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Sound: POW camp entertainment

Audio file

Hear George Trundle talking about how POWs kept themselves entertained.


Apart from chess, what other things did you do to keep yourselves entertained?

Well we actually had our own university in the camp. We used to teach languages, philosophy, logic, all kinds of things. There were a lot of talented people in there-artists from the French particularly, also we had a marvellous section of actors and they put on plays....

We did shows by Wilde, 'The Importance of Being Earnest', always something with a comic touch. Guys, they knew how important humour was... They didn't need - they were all humorous anyway . We all liked to laugh-that was what kept us going, I guess. That and the sport, but this entertainment-they'd put on a show for a week you know, at a time. They made all the stage props, marvellous stuff, just out of cardboard and packing cases, and debris that was around the camp. They'd paint it up. It was lifelike. Marvellous. And the shows were really good.

Now, the quiz shows, would that be like inter-hut competitions?

Yes, exactly right. It was...

And the university that you had there was this something that was informal or..?

It was formal, had proper timetables and tutors and that... I taught Italian and French, as I say, with a vocabulary of about 200 words! But it went over and worked.

Programme for Stalag VIIIA, 1944/45:

The Dramatic Society at Gorlitz also held regular play readings and a Shakespeare Reading Group functioned with readings supplemented by talks on the history of drama and on Shakespearean literature in general.

  • 22 February: 1944 Blithe Spirit
  • 7 March: Pot Pourri
  • 21 March: Here We Go
  • 11 April: Gaslight
  • 25 April: The Bumbles of Bumbleton
  • 18 May: Once a Crook
  • 30 May: Whizz-Bang
  • 14 June: Youth at the Helm
  • 27 June: Melody Parade
  • 19 July: Hay Fever
  • 3 August: New Edition
  • 17 August: The Milky Way
  • 29 August: Ermatrude's Follies
  • 12 September & 24 October: The Man Who Came to Dinner
  • 30 December: Choose Your Shoes
  • 15 January 1945: Musical Highlights

See also: related images of POW camp entertainment


George Trundle interview, 08.02.02, side 5

How to cite this page

Sound: POW camp entertainment, URL:, (Manatū Taonga — Ministry for Culture and Heritage), updated