The prisoners of war and internees at Amherst were kept busy. They were set to public works under guard, of course: Dickey Park in Amherst benefited from their labour, as did the Dominion Experimental Farm at Nappan, about 10 km (6 miles) away. (1)
For recreation, there were crafts, such as wood carving – difficult to accomplish if you were not permitted a knife or sharp blade! Nevertheless, many artifacts were made and preserved. Trotsky said he took some back to Moscow; the NS Highlanders Regimental Museum includes among its artifacts a cello made by POWs, a cello with an unusual carving on its scroll. (3)
A more typical because smaller artifact is this 10 cm (4 inch) long miniature anvil, with a little plaque reading “Kriegsgefangenenlager [prisoner of war camp] Amherst.”(4)
Group activities also took place for the amusement of the prisoners and, presumably, the townspeople. The “ladies” in the front row of this photograph, wearing dresses and something rather like mops on their heads, seem to be a chorus line, with more conventionally attired men behind them.(5)
(1) Brian Tennyson. “Trotsky was interned here.” The Chronicle Herald.
(2) Cameron, Silver Donald. “Trotsky in Amherst.”
(3) Nova Scotia Highlanders Regimental Museum. “Èxhibits of War”
(4) The image is one of the Sovie collection of miniature anvils, shown on a website for blacksmiths and other metalworkers.
(5) The image, originally attributed to the Provincial Archives of New Brunswick, can be seen in a CBC news item about the history of the LGBTQ community in that province.
Copyright 2016. See “More about this project.”