It was not before April 1916 – they had already been interned for over two years – that the internees were again granted permission to publish a paper. However, they had to submit to very strict rules and a continuous censorship.
In the following telegram sent to his vice-prefect in Brest on March 17, 1917, the prefect of the Finistère outlined the new rules:
“In answer to your letter of March 15th I have the honour to let you know that, pending your agreement, I have authorized the internee KOWALSKI Edmund to publish a weekly in the camp. It is to contain reviews of the theatre’s performances, reports on concerts, and ads. The interpreter HAASE is to censor each and every issue. Before it is being published, the camp authorities are to submit two copies of each issue to me. You will also see to it that 4 file copies destined for the National Library will be forwarded to me on a regular basis.”
This change of conditions becomes obvious in the leader published in the first issue of this second series. Compared to the leader of the first series, it is not just the tone that has changed, but also the aims. The latter have been adapted to a larger degree to the risks and problems inherent to an internment camp. At the same time, the article suggests both ways and means to cope with these risks and problems. Hence, two objectives are achieved: the general rules the editors go by are sufficiently accommodating and obliging to spare the sensitivities of the French authorities while making sure that this time, the journal will be published on a long-term basis. Nevertheless, the first leader makes it clear that the „Insel-Woche“ plans to both represent the internees’ interests and to act as a moral compass.
Leader of the first issue of the „Insel-Woche“, second series:
To our readers
The spring gales that are shaking our baracks are doing so but in a small world – that of our life as prisoners. The gales of war, that are sweeping across the world and tearing it into pieces, may both excite and continuously keep us on our toes, but we are not in the position to record its doings. At least not in the „Inselwoche“ which – after an interruption of one year - reenters the stage, albeit in a new look . We must not comment on those great events that are tearing the world apart. We are also denied the foremost task of any newspaper, namely reporting news from all over the world as fast as possible. The “Insel-Woche“ may only offer to be a chronicler of the goings-on in our small world. And thank God there are things on Île Longue worth reporting. Our lives here are made of stronger stuff than petty trifles to gossip about! Concerts, lectures and classes, wholehearted care offered to those in need and last but not least sport lift us above life’s humdrum routine, at the same time preparing us to cope with a future that is going to ask more of each and everyone of us than the past has ever done. The „Insel-Woche“ will diligently document everything that makes our small world a precious one. We will also attempt to support our comrades through firm and strong words.
We have to deal with more than one difficulty. We are confident we will succeed in overcoming those of a technical kind. We also hope that soon, we will be able to broaden our range of subjects. With this journal we want to fill a void in our present lives. We also wish to offer our comrades a journal witnessing life in this camp. Nobody should be able to reproach the prisoners of Île Longue for intellectual poverty and a lack of willingness to work.”Click here for the original version
This article is signed “the editors“ which means that the names of the author/the authors remain a mystery. But whether it was a single author or a team that wrote this article there is one aspect that makes it both powerful and distinguished, namely the conviction to not only embrace the opportunity to face the serious impacts of imprisonment, but to consider this a duty. The journal’s aim and function are clearly named: to help the internees to survive their imprisonment in a decent and dignified way. To achieve this aim, the team of editors propagated their humanistic values with the help of articles on culture, art, science, the crafts, sport – week after week, without fail.
It was not for aesthetic reasons that they used a particularly colourful language, struck a solemn and motivating note. This was done in order to create a compelling and irresistible spirit to fight the main risks imprisonment brings about, namely the loss of moral values and idleness.
Finally let’s commemorate those internees who, with a huge personal commitment, served as editors of the „Insel-Woche“ and managed to turn its second series into a successful and lasting endeavor: Edmund Kowalski, Gustav Tschentscher and, first and foremost, Friedrich Hommel.