In June 1915, the internees were granted permission to publish a newspaper in German. The editors stated their plans and goals quite clearly in the leading article of the first issue (June 20th, 1915).
What we would like to do (Was wir wollen)
The pressure of being imprisoned weighs heavily on us as it means being doomed to idleness during great and encompassing times. And as it is impossible to give vent to this pressure by boldly shaping the development of the general situation , some of us feel the urge to at least openly declare and share their convictions, feelings and hopes to and with like-minded persons. Correspondence, however, is subject to censorship. This makes it desirable for those among us who feel the calling to put down their knowledge, their opinions and their feelings in writing . These records of collective feelings and experiences could serve as memories to themselves and their fellow sufferers for better times to come. The main objective of our weekly is to gather everything worth recording. That’s why we ask everybody to support this idea to the best of their abilities. Whatever exhilarating and funny moments camp life might have on offer will happily be accepted if recorded accurately. We wish to compile and publish everything that might divert and entertain authors and readers - essays and poems, sporting reports, jokes and small ads. We call upon our comrades to make up to our efforts and expenses through diligent participation.“}
The technical means the internees could dispose of to publish their newspaper were rather poor. All the texts were handwritten (often in Sütterlin, the old German script). As there was no printing shop, copies had to be hectographed one at a time.
Regarding the first series of the “Insel-Woche“, two diametrical attitudes can be found among the editors .
Whereas one group believed it to be their duty to encourage their fellow sufferers with the help of patriotic slogans and by displaying a hostile attitude towards France, another group seems to have been more conciliatory, focusing on humanistic and cultural values. Obviously the latter group could not prevail – the “Insel-Woche“ was banned because of frictions with the camp’s authorities.
Camp commander Alleau justified his decision as follows on January 28th, 1916:
Order of the camp commander
“In defiance of favours bestowed upon them, in this case of being granted permission to publish a newspaper, the prisoners took a conflict regarding the distribution of bread as a pretext to criticize, in an article in the last issue,what the French believe to be human, thus igniting hatred of German prisoners.
They did this spitefully and venomously, displaying hate, insubordination and open impertinence. This attitude makes it clear that an end must be put to the favours granted in the camp of Île Longue. That’s why, as a first measure, both the author of the aforesaid article and the printer of the newspaper are punished by days of jail, 8 of which to be spent in confinement. The newspaper is prohibited; all the equipment used to produce it shall be seized and destroyed; of the theatre are prohibited; the same goes for the gathering of students for their courses. All the rooms allocated to the prisoners for the activities mentioned above shall be returned to their rightful purpose.
The sergeant-major will make sure this decision is properly executed.“
It would be of utmost interest to us to obtain information regarding the two editors of this first series of the “Insel-Woche“, namely Robert Schuett (issues 1-10) and Robert Rümmler . We know at least some basic facts about Robert Rümmler whose name appears in the official lists. Unfortunately and inexplicably, however, Robert Schuett seems to have left no traces whatsoever in the lists of the camp’s adminstration.
Click here to find the individual issues of the “Insel-Woche“ (first series)
Translation: Sabine Herrle