Posted on July 12, 2019
Naval officer Fritz Sachsse was among hundreds of Germans at Raikeswood Camp in Skipton at the end of World War One.
Researchers have now translated a diary Lieutenant Commander Sachsse wrote at the camp. They then realised his grandson was Wolf Kahler who was Nazi colonel Herman Dietrich in Raiders of the Lost Ark. The camp was hit by an outbreak of Spanish Flu in 1919 which claimed the lives of 47 of the prisoners.
The diary, called Kriegsgefangen, gives first-hand accounts of how the virus spread through the camp, along with general tales of life as a prisoner of war. Diaries and sketches made in captivity were smuggled out of the camp and the book was published in 1920 when they returned to Germany. After a copy of the book emerged in Skipton Library decades later, researchers at the University of Leeds started to translate it in 2015 and searched for relatives of the men held at the camp.
Kahler, who also starred in the HBO series Band of Brothers and the Stanley Kubrick film Barry Lyndon, said he was contacted “out of the blue” by the team translating his grandfather’s words, with a book on the research due to be published soon.
“It’ll be a very moving event for me when the board is revealed, I’m so amazed about the number of people who have been involved in the investigations and research,” he said.
“I’m grateful that they’ve involved me as well, it’s fantastic.”
The actor, who was 14 when his grandfather died and who now lives in London, said the soldiers were generally “well kept, fairly treated and often taken for long walks through the woods” in the town.