Wednesday, 16 May 2012

German POW - Postcard Humour

This postcard was illustrated by Hans Werner, a German POW, who at the time worked in the bush at Mafeking, known as Camp 12. When I first saw this card, I thought that there must be an interesting story to go with it. I later learned that indeed there is. Here is the story of Paul Nerger, a POW, who settled in Winnipeg after the war. (He's also the one who had the picture of the Hutterite children in his album. I still haven't figured out when he was at our colony.)

Paul had been at this camp for a year and had seen some wildlife, but never a moose. So he kept dreaming for that to happen. So, one fall day during a coffee break on the edge of the bush on the lake shore of Dawson Bay, Paul's dream came true. A pair of moose were out on a stroll along the beach. Unaware that this was mating season and could get dangerous, Paul took in this grand sight. Many years later he recalled the incident, deeming it the most memorable experience of his days in Camp 12.

"Seeing me, they started galloping right in front of me and away to my right. I was delighted! Then, hardly 100 feet away, the bull pushed his mate into a willow bush using his big shovels, then jumped into the air turning 180 degrees, leveled his antlers like a bulldozer and headed towards me." Needless to say Paul, grabbed the axe and along with a buddy, dove for cover behind a big rotten log and underbrush. "Mr. Moose hit some big brush not even 20 feet from where we were laying. He stood there for 20 minutes, awful long 20 minutes it was for us." They hid a while longer after the moose left to be on the safe side, then returned to camp. ('Lasting Impressions' - Swan River Historical Society.)

Obviously, Paul's bush buddies didn't want him to forget his 'dream encounter with moose'. To commemorate this momentous occasion, Hans Werner made him this birthday card and had all his friends sign it. The words at the top are a German birthday greeting. The card still exists; it's at Robert Henderson's Homefront Museum and Artifacts, in Regina, SK.




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