by ehistoryadmin on December 5, 2019

Irish Press 10 July 1945

German internees work on farm, Bog, in town

(Irish Press Reporter) Co. Kildare, Monday, 9 July

The future of the 260 German internees at the Curragh has become topic number one among the farmers, Turf Development Board officials, timber merchants and the hundred and one other people here who want a job of work done.

Since money from Germany stopped, the internees – 209 from the Navy and 53 from the Luftwaffe – have gone to work in the fields, on the bogs, and in the towns of Droichead Nua, Naas and Kildare, where they are doing all kinds of odd jobs from house painting to mowing lawns and mending watches.

Farmers who were skeptical when they signed on half a dozen men who had never been out of the city until they joined up, found that they were quick to learn and anxious to work.

Outside Droichead Nua I found a party cutting timber. One twenty-two-year-old six-footer, wielding an axe like a professional, told me that he was from Munich, and had never worked on the land before. In charge of the party was a sergt.-major, whose people owned large shops in Berlin and Hamburg, in addition to a farm. The shops have disappeared, but his parents are now working on the farm. He keeps bees at the camp and gives the honey to his comrades.

Many of the internees have adapted their hobbies to make money. A number manufacture toys and do leatherwork. One man designs and makes sandals which he sends to Dublin. Another, whose father once owned racehorses, is now a stable boy for Jim Canty, brother of the jockey, Joe.

Few of them want to return to Germany “as it is at present”, though I met one pilot who said he would go back “no matter who is there”. He has been three years in Ireland. Before that he was in France, and before that in Poland. It is seven years since he has seen his people and over a year since he heard from them. One officer, however, summed up what is probably the attitude of most of his men when he said to me: “Here in Ireland we can be of more help to our families than in prisoner of war cages in Britain or Germany.”

The Germans spend the greater part of their money on clothes; most insist that the local tailors cut their suits to continental styles. Because of this, and their blonde hair and tanned faces, the internees are conspicuous. In most cases their uniforms have been worn out, and only occasionally a forage cap or a blue naval tunic is seen.

Senior Officer is Commander Quedenfeld, a sailor for seventeen of his thirty-four years. In December, 1943, he was in charge of a torpedo-boat during a battle in the Bay of Biscay with British cruisers, and had to abandon ship. He and what remained of his crew – over a hundred men – were picked up by the Irish vessel Kerlogue, with a normal crew of eleven.

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