Maggie Butt

Winter

In the summer when the men could go out into the compound
things were bearable, but in winter when we had to stay indoors
it was hell.

Winter started early that year; the central heating in our
battalion quarters wasn’t working and we froze in that vast
space. Everybody was ill.

The men lay about all day on their plank beds with their
blankets over them. Many went down with bronchitis and lung
trouble.

The infirmary was filled to suffocation so they had to stay in
the battalion quarters. We had a great many cases of insanity.

I had developed chronic stomach trouble and couldn’t keep my
food down. Not even milk and water. I was no longer the robust
man I had been.

It was terrible at night; the coughing and groaning kept us all
awake.

Rudolf Rocker
Extract from memoir