|Above: My great uncle, John Paton (seated), in Ruhleben, 1916, shortly after his internment.
In 1914, thousands of British civilians and merchant seamen, along with foreigners
from other nationalities with British connections, were interned at the hastily constructed prisoner of war camp at Ruhleben
racecourse by Spandau, near Berlin, Germany. Most would not see freedom from the camp until the end of the war, but managed
to maintain a unique way of life for the four years of their unwelcome internment.
This site was constructed to try and tell the stories of as many of those
civilians as possible, and to act as a memorial for those who found themselves as the unwitting victims of circumstance,
caught up in a struggle that should never have happened.
Sources trawled for information on the inmates include Ruhleben based websites
on the internet, printed publications, material from the National Archives in London, issues of Ruhleben produced magazines,
sales on E-bay of Ruhleben related memorabilia, and many, many more.
If you have anything that might help
further the story of the Ruhleben POW camp, I would be extremely pleased to hear from you! Please contact me by e-mail at
28/1 2013: Marcus Bateman has a separate excellent project on the merchant seamen who were interned
at Ruhleben, using records held under MT9 at the National Archives at Kew. Please note that his old site at www.wanborough.ukuhost.co.uk/POW/POW.htm is shortly to be replaced with a new site at www.spw-surrey.com/mt9/
BBC Scotland interviewed me in 2008 as part of a piece on the 90th anniversary of the return of Ruhleben
POWs to Leith in 1918. The story can be viewed by clicking on the image below. Keep an eye out for footage of the internees
disembarking, in case you recognise anybody!
Matthew Stibbe's book British Civilian Internees in Germany: The Ruhleben Camp, 1914-1918 was published by Manchester University Press on May 1st 2008, and provides the first major academic study on the
camp in many years. I would like to thank Matthew for his kind words in the Acknowledgements
section of his book in regard to this website project, and for past help with the project itself.
The People's University 1858-2008, by Christina Kenyon Jones, looks at 150 years of external assessment by the University of London. Published in
2008 it includes coverage of the education system at Ruhleben in its wartime chapter.
Ruhleben racecourse - home to some five and a half thousand civilian POWs in the
First World War
This site currently contains the names
of approximately 2084 out of 5500 prisoners who were interned at Ruhleben.
Please use the links on the top left hand side of this page to navigate your way around
Last updated June 1st 2022
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