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When WWII ended in 1945, disillusioned men returned to their respective homes in whichever part of the Commonwealth they came from.
Together with written memoirs and archival documents, the interviews revealed rich narratives of hardship, endurance, humour, longing and self-discovery; all of which were the result of their captivity during the war. It was a war against hunger and deprivation, at times against the ever encroaching despondency and low morale amongst their companions in arms.
Considering their experiences, the author found it astonishing that almost all of them claimed not to be heroes of any kind. Almost all of the former POWs stated this 'fact' at the beginning of each interview. When one considers that they returned home in 1945 to a country which soon afterwards tried its utmost to promote national amnesia with regard to the country's participation in the war and that the official war history project was unceremoniously stopped, it is perhaps understandable that these men found it unusual that someone would be interested in their stories many years later.
However, as one of the former POWs put it, they 'saw history from the inside'. Seeing the war from the enemy's point of view and seeing what it did to its citizens changed how all of them viewed the world. If anyone can teach us anything about the futility of war, it is these men who looked the enemy in the eye every day. This book is about these heroes, the POWs who came back home and who carried on with life.
Karen Horn is a lecturer at Stellenbosch University. She has travelled to at least three of the four corners of the earth and has pursued many different occupations. With a Master's degree in History from Edinburgh University, followed by a PhD at Stellenbosch, she now spends many hours of research reading diaries, interrogating older generations and rummaging around in the archives.
She lives in the Winelands with her husband and two Border Collies.