In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

103 This chapter addresses Walter Taylor’s experiences during World War II and provides some insight to his life during the short period he was a prisoner of war and to his interests in anthropology. It was in this period that we first met and subsequently developed a close relationship. I discuss this relationship as it extended to my family and also included a period of interaction as colleagues at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. There is a problem when casting one’s mind back to past events, happenings , ideas, and so on and, as an anthropologist, one must always be aware that memory is subject to error as well as being fickle in invention. Further, the ethnographer is inevitably selective. In consequence, the parameters of context can get distorted, content added to or left out depending on selection from memory: “Observe, now, how history becomes defiled through lapse of time and the help of the bad memories of men” (Mark Twain in Life on the Mississippi, chapter 55). I have indeed found that I have ideas of what happened to me as a POW, as a naval officer, that I have misconstrued when I have checked them against an account of the facts recorded at the time of their happening. However, during the three and a quarter years of my incarceration, I kept a log, or journal, of all the books I read, comments on them, ideas they generated, and particularly Walter Taylor POW, Professor, and Colleague Chapter four Philip J.C. Dark Philip J.C. Dark 104 my activities as a practicing artist—all relatively innocuous in case the Germans confiscated it. It is to this record that I have referred in the preparation of this chapter and from which I have abstracted the account that follows. Marlag O, Prisoner of War Camp I briefly recount something of the nature of POW life in order to convey to the reader an idea of the context into which Walter Taylor was plunged.1 The POW camp was called Marlag O, small in comparison to many POW camps; it was for naval officers and a few Royal Marines. The Germans captured only some 300 officers from the Royal Navy (Fleet Air Arm officers usually were sent to camps for Royal Air Force personnel). The camp was run by the Kriegsmarine. Being small had its advantages, and sometimes disadvantages, with respect to the German navy’s concern for its “few” prisoners. Marlag O was built in 1942. Before that time, naval officers who were POWs—including some captured in 1939—were located in one or two other POW camps. With the creation of Marlag O, all naval officers were brought together into a single camp. It consisted of a compound surrounded by barbed wire, with watchtowers for guards with machine guns placed at strategic points.2 In this compound were several wooden huts, each divided into a number of rooms for POWs. Initially, there were some eight prisoners to a room and one or two single rooms for senior officers. There were latrines, cold-water showers, a hut for messing, and a hut for recreation and staging shows and plays, which the Germans encouraged and liked to attend. Arrangements were established early on between Germany and the United Kingdom and its allies with respect to sending and receiving mail, food parcels sent through the Red Cross, book and tobacco parcels, and a nine-pound personal parcel every six months. Not that all went smoothly; time took on its own dimension. Those who wanted to study, learn a language or some subject, were catered to by taking examinations from the University of London or the Royal Society of Arts. Examination papers were sent by mail. In Marlag, the extent of knowledge and skills—practical skills of engineers and other naval specialists —was considerable because of the command of various languages by regular naval officers and reservists; in addition, the civilian backgrounds of reservists provided a range of professions. These competencies were put to use: courses in a variety of subjects were given over the years to which Taylor added one on anthropology. There was a library in the camp with a remarkable range of books augmented by people’s personal books, for it was permitted to send book parcels , even though not all dispatched books reached their destination or survived the censors. The Swedish Red Cross was a generous donor. Sources for anthropology were surprisingly present and included Kroeber’s Anthropology, Margaret...


Additional Information

Related ISBN
MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.