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Camp 165 Watten
Drawing on oral testimonies and other sources, the author has compiled a detailed, in-depth history of one of the most secretive prisoner of war camps in the United Kingdom. Situated in Watten, Caithness in the far north of Scotland, its links with the wider world such as Canada and Poland are illustrated and sets Watten’s place within European history. The camp held a number of SS officers including prominent prisoners such as Gunter d’Alquen, the journalist; Otto Kretschmer, the ‘Wolf of the Atlantic’; and Paul Werner Hoppe, former commandant of Stutthof Concentration Camp in Poland.
The history of its inception and creation are described, as is the daily life of the prisoners. Although some were allowed out of the camp to work on local farms others, who were labelled as ‘black’, denoting their high-risk status, were not. However, all of them had the opportunity to learn new skills or study the many varied courses that were on offer behind the barbed wire. Numerous escape attempts were made but all of the prisoners returned to the camp, either through choice or necessity.
Local people give their account of the camp with many having fond memories of the theatre groups and orchestras; one of which played at a local girl‘s wedding! The camp had a profound effect on Caithness which endures to this day through the friendships built up over its time as Prisoner of War Camp 165. It brings together a plethora of information with links to other camps, not only in the UK. The role of the London District Cage, infamous for its interrogation of prisoners of war, is also explored as is its impact on the camp’s history, including the case of the scientist Paul Schröder who worked on the V2 bomb.
The Polish soldiers stationed in Caithness, who lived for a short time in the camp before its status changed, are also included in the book as they too had a considerable impact on Caithness and its people.
Readership: Camp 165 Watten will be of especial interest to many people in Caithness, those with local connections and anyone interested in military history.
ISBN 978-1904445-60-9 240 × 170mm softback
illustrated c.160pp £14.99 December, 2007