Intelligence Roundup – Cake, a Flower Pot, and “The Last Wood-Cutter”

Stumbling across this in my search for intelligence reports regarding the VE-Day announcement in Medicine Hat, and Lethbridge, I wanted to share. Unsure of how PoWs would react to news of the German surrender, intelligence personnel at Medicine Hat’s Camp 132 asked a group of PoWs their thoughts as they were being transferred to a logging camp. Here are some of their answers:

“An engineer from Western Germany wants to know if the P/W who remain in enclosure will have a better chance of returning sooner to Germany. He didn’t mind the idea of going to Logging Camp but was sorry to miss his birthday cake which he would have received in the enclosure if he would have stayed for another week when his birthday was coming up.”

“Another P/W carried a small painting which showed an old wood-cutter with a long beard, an axe over his shoulder, standing among numerous mountains which were completely bare (Apparently all trees had been cut). In one corner there was a little tree and some bush to be seen. The Painting was named ‘The Last Wood-Cutter in 1976.’ The painting was mounted on a bone which was engraved ‘From the old bones of Room No. 2’ P/W received this from his comrades who apparently were kidding him about being sent out to a Logging Camp.”

“Another P/W carried a bright red flower in a flower pot, and explained that he is a gardener in civilian life, and that the flower was presented to him by his comrades so he would feel at home when arriving in the bush.”

“One P/W could not be found until the last moment and he gave his reason that he is strong Anti-Nazi and devout Catholic and would have liked to go out on a work project where also Anti-Nazis and Catholics would be sent. He had already taken all Swastikas off his tunic and cap, and said that he refused to use the Hitler salute since several weeks ago, and was therefore afraid to go with a group of P/W who were not Anti-Nazis. He was assured that his group did not contain any fanatical Nazis, who were expected to cause no trouble whatsoever. He then jumped in the jeep holding in his left hand a small bible and saluting smartly with the old German military salute.”

Overall, the staff noted the general sentiment to be “very favourable” – a contrast to previous working parties who, as the report describes, “…were partly unwilling to do any work for the Allies which would be useful in the prosecution of the war against their homeland.”

Sentiments of P/W transferred to Logging Camps from No. 132 Camp on May 13, 1945, HQS 9139-4-133, Camp Intelligence, 1944-1946, C-5365, LAC.

Published by Michael O'Hagan

Historian studying German Prisoners of War in Canada during the Second World War

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