Prison Camp or Hell?

        A journal written by Josef Sramek from Usti nad Lebem illustrates the views of the war from a prisoner of war’s standpoint.  Josef’s journal entries begin December 9th, 1914 and end on December 28th, 1915.  The first line in his journal states, “Kraguyevats! It took three days to get there, and they were filled with trouble,” which implies that he had been held prisoner since December 6th.  By reading and analyzing Josef’s journal entries during this period, I will get a real life perception of the war from a POW’s point of view.

        As soon as the prisoners arrived at their first destination, they confiscated their coats, shoes, underwear, and everything else that had any value from them.  The prisoners were given little to eat, most of the time splitting a single loaf of bread between themselves per day.  For the first day, they were forced to sleep on the snow.  They were sent to a new prisoner camp called Skoplye soon after they were finished with their first “meal”.  The prisoners must have been as uncomfortable as a person trying to fit into pants 5 sizes smaller than they would normally wear.  I use this analogy because the prisoners being transported in the boxcar were so crammed they were incapable of even sitting down.

Join now!

        Three days after departing from their first camp, the prisoners reached Skoplye.  The Serbs finally gave the prisoners a “home”.  This was a stable unsuitable for cattle but appropriate enough to house “Schwabs”.  Because there were thousands upon thousands of prisoners in the stables and the Serbs prohibited them from drinking safe water and food, disease spread quickly and many prisoners died.  It is not unusual to find at least 200 lice on a prisoner in these horrendous stables.

        The holiday season had most prisoners recalling family memories.  Josef pondered over where his family was, what they were doing, and ...

This is a preview of the whole essay