Crowdsourcing project translates German prisoner of war newspapers in the New Forest

German prisoner of war newspaper picture credit mueller family

Published Wednesday 24 June 2015

Newspapers written at a German prisoner of war camp in the New Forest are being translated for the first time thanks to a new crowdsourcing website.

Photos, Video and Audio: Download images of German prisoner of war newspapers, a 3D animation of Setley PoW Camp and an audio interview with Gareth Owen from the New Forest Remembers World War II Project at bit.ly/1K6H7mw

Interviews: Interviews can be arranged with Mike Mueller, the son of German prisoner of war Max Mueller, Gareth Owen from the New Forest Remembers World War II project and with Adi Keinan-Schoonbaert from MicroPasts. Please contact communications officer Sion Donovan on sion.donovan@newforestnpa.gov.uk or 01590 646639.

The newspapers written by Second World War soldiers include hand-written illustrations, songs, puzzles, football match reports and lessons to ‘Brush up your English’.

They were written at Setley Prisoner of War (PoW) Camp from 1945 to 1948, and were collected by German camp leader Max Mueller who later settled in the New Forest.

The collection was kept by Mr Mueller’s family for 70 years, before being brought to light through the New Forest National Park Authority’s New Forest Remembers World War II Project.

The Authority has now teamed up with the crowdsourcing MicroPasts project run by University College London and the British Museum, and funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council. Through its website, an online community of archaeologists, historians and enthusiasts are accessing dozens of World War II documents, helping to translate them for a digital archive.

Mr Mueller’s son Mike, who runs the Meerut bed and breakfast in Brockenhurst, said: ‘The newspapers have been in our family for years. We do know some German, so we have a sense of what the articles say. My father didn’t really talk much about his time at the camp, so it would be nice to fully understand what these men were thinking.’

Gareth Owen, project officer for the New Forest Remembers World War II Project, said: ‘The Mueller family’s unique collection of carvings, photo albums and newspapers from the Setley PoW Camp are a vital link to our past. We haven’t yet been able to translate them all and we’re very excited about this collaboration with MicroPasts. We hope it will reveal new insights into what life was like as a prisoner of war in the New Forest, and what was important to them as they prepared to return home to Germany.’

Adi Keinan-Schoonbaert from MicroPasts said: ‘Our collaboration with the New Forest National Park Authority is a great example of how crowdsourcing heritage and archaeology works. With only limited funds and time, heritage professionals consistently struggle to protect and interpret the UK's vast array of archaeological and historical finds. 

‘But there are huge pools of amateur groups and volunteers who are not only passionate but also skilled and knowledgeable. MicroPasts brings them together so that they can contribute to real archaeological, historical and museum-related projects.’

To help translate the German POW newspapers visit http://crowdsourced.micropasts.org/
The translated newspapers will soon be added to the New Forest Remembers World War II project’s digital archive at www.newforestww2.org

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About the New Forest National Park Authority

Protect - Enjoy - Prosper

The New Forest National Park Authority’s statutory purposes are to:

  • Conserve and enhance the natural beauty, wildlife and cultural heritage of the Park - Protect.
  • Promote opportunities for understanding and enjoyment of its special qualities – Enjoy.
We also have a duty to:
  • Seek to foster the social and economic well-being of local communities within the Park – Prosper.

The New Forest National Park was designated in March 2005. Its unique landscape has been shaped over the centuries by grazing ponies, cattle and pigs which roam free. Majestic woodlands, rare heathland and a spectacular coastline provide fabulous opportunities for quiet recreation, enjoyment and discovery.

Visit www.newforestnpa.gov.uk to find out more.

Media Contacts:
Sion Donovan, Communications Officer, New Forest National Park Authority
Tel: 01590 646639
Email: sion.donovan@newforestnpa.gov.uk

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