Newspapers written at a German prisoner of war camp in the New Forest are being translated for the first time thanks to a new crowdsourcing website.
The newspapers written by Second World War soldiers include handwritten illustrations, songs, puzzles, football match reports and lessons to ‘Brush up your English’. They were written at Setley Prisoner of War (PoW) Camp from 1945 to 1948, and were collected by German camp leader Max Mueller who later settled in the New Forest.
The collection was kept by Mr Mueller’s family for 70 years, before being brought to light through the New Forest National Park Authority’s New Forest Remembers World War II Project.
The Authority has now teamed up with the crowdsourcing MicroPasts project run by University College London and the British Museum, and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Through its website, an online community of archaeologists, historians and enthusiasts are accessing dozens of World War II documents, helping to translate them for a digital archive.
Mr Mueller’s son Mike said: “The newspapers have been in our family for years. We do know some German, so we have a sense of what the articles say. My father didn’t really talk much about his time at the camp, so it would be nice to fully understand what these men were thinking.”
Gareth Owen, project officer for the New Forest Remembers World War II Project, said: “The Mueller family’s unique collection of carvings, photo albums and newspapers from the Setley PoW Camp are a vital link to our past. We haven’t yet been able to translate them all and we’re very excited about this collaboration with MicroPasts. We hope it will reveal new insights into what life was like as a prisoner of war in the New Forest.”
The translated newspapers will soon be added to the New Forest Remembers World War II project’s digital archive at www.newforestww2.org