the best and finest time was at Marrinup…

A resident of Marrinup POW Camp, Heins Doehmen, wrote to a Western Australian newspaper in 1947.

While Heins is German, not Italian, I found his letter very interesting and sobering and therefore a worthy inclusion. His record states that he is Catholic and his occupation is – Theology student. Heins was fighting in infantry when he was captured at Sollum 16th May 1941.

To the Editor.

Sir,- I take the liberty of writing you this letter, even if it is in bad English; but I am doing so in order not to lose connection with the land where I lived such a long time as a P.O.W.  I spent almost three years of six in Western Australia, the other time being in Victoria and South Australia.  But the best and finest time was at Marrinup.  Working there as swampers, wood cutters, or somewhat else, we did it mostly with great pleasure.

Today it is forbidden to me to think of the flesh-pots [pot of flesh or meat] of Australia, only to save my stomach and protect it from the convulsions of “hunger laughter.” My stomach is always-contra.  Shortly after my repatriation I weighted 200lb. Now it has been set back to 140lb.  It is no good to be burdened with too much fat, says the order of the day.  The bread, made of Indian corn, looks like cake, but is much better to digest by chickens than by men.  We are housed here in ruins, as you know well by pictures and magazines.  Morality is the same as your reporters have shown in your paper.  The children are mostly fond of debris, playing hide-and-seek or pirates in mysterious corners of empty cellars.  In the streets you hear all the day the click-click of the wooden shoes of our girls.  Leather shoes are going out of fashion.  But our women grow sadder day by day, providing a deplorable sight with their trouble about food, clothing and housekeeping.  Where is the future, and what will the time to come bring to us? Perhaps life, perhaps a castle in the air only, perhaps a burying-ground.

I am living with my old paretns and my sister in two small rooms, the last of our fine house, giving thanks to God that I didn’t see the last winter in Germany and praying for mild weather the next time.  Above all, I thank you and your folks for the fine time I have had in Australia. Never will I forget it.

Now I ask you to find out a person for me to correspond with, not only with the object of obtaining an acquaintance in the paradise called Australia, but also to have a connection with the outer workd and to learn good English. On the other side, I will give promptly a report of my country.  I am aged 30, and work as a clerk in a labour office.  Before the war I was a student of philospohy and mathematics.-

Yours, etc.,

HEINS DOEHMEN

22a, M-Gladbach/Rhl, Benderstr.

(1947 ‘German P.O.W. writes letter of Thanks’, Western Mail (Perth, WA : 1885 – 1954), 16 October, p. 11. , viewed 22 Jul 2020, http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article52180042)

Heins Doehmen 41162

Murchison, Australia. 30 December 1942. Group of German prisoners of war (POWs) interned at No. 13 POW Group. Known to be are: 41944 Lance Corporal (L Cpl) Richard Wiedmann of Ludwigshafen am Rhein; 41061 Corporal (Cpl) Emil Baade of Ludwigshafen am Rhein; 41620 L Cpl Otto Niedhammer of Heidelberg; 41119 L Cpl Richard Brinkmann of Heidelberg; 41069 L Cpl Hans Naring of Unterkoettenich ueber Dueren, Rheinland; 41533 L Cpl Karl Lohoff of Sinsheim am Elsenz, Baden; 41618 Cpl Eugen Niederberger of Mannheim; 41162 Cpl Heinrich Doehmen of Gladbach, Rheinland; 41270 Cpl Emil Guenther of Altrip am Rhein; 41905 Cpl Josef Vieren of Witten, Ruhr. Note: The number is an assigned POW number. (AWM Image 30178/07 Photographer Colin Thomas Halmarick)

While it is unknow which man in the photo is Heins (Heinrich), what is known is that he is 5′ 9′ tall, weighted 157 lbs [1941] and has blond and blue eyes.  He was 26 years old when the photo was taken at Murchsion POW Camp in Victoria.  BUT in the group are 4 men 6′ plus tall, and only one man was shorter than Heins.

I wonder if Heins found a penfriend?

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