We Prisoners of War: Sixteen British Officers and Soldiers Speak from a German Prison Camp, first published in 1941, is a collection of brief essays written by POWs held in Germany during the early days of World War II. As noted in the Preface: Two years after the outbreak of hostilities, more than four million men are prisoners of war. They are living behind barbed-wire fences in all parts of the world … What thoughts are in the minds of these captured men? We Prisoners of War is a partial answer to this question. These sixteen essays were originally submitted in an essay contest suggested by a Y.M.C.A. secretary who visits the camps regularly. They were not intended for publication or the eyes of the censor. Because of their unique insight into the minds of those facing despair “in a sea of stagnant idleness,” they are being printed in the interest of the prisoners themselves.
Although these prisoners are shut in behind barbed wire in southern Germany, it is interesting to note the influence upon their thoughts of the life of the villages outside the wire. A bright carpet in a cottage, the visitors in the local beer garden, the glorious view of the Alps as seen through the barred windows, as well as the clanging of the church bells, the singing of the birds, and the memory of the young choirmaster, Mozart, who lived there—these are the prisoner's food for thought.