Gaston is difficult to make out within this huge group photo of the prisoners, which shows the diversity of ages and gender.
Holzminden is a long way inside Germany, in Lower Saxony on the river Weser.
All real apart from the appearance of Horstberg who pops up again briefly - we were told he was an engineer so here he is planning an overflow to the overcrowded camp, which was expanded several times. I liked the idea of Gaston removing his spectacles to ensure anonymity.
Fact and Fiction
I apologise for playing with readers at the start of this chapter but when I read the descriptions in Dr Carlier's diary of the fun which was had when it snowed, temptation got the better of me. Gaston had young children and the photographs of him with them give a sense of a good-humoured and loving father. Of course he would have played with them. Of course he would have known how to build a toboggan. I love the thought of him flashing down the slope on the sledge laughing in triumph.
This was in some ways a model prison camp. Intelligent and cultured people when interned together will soon develop some enjoyable means of passing the time: lectures, a little library, an orchestra, it all sounds rather fun, but it was still internment, with prisoners separated by gender for most of the time.
We are at risk of viewing Holzminden through the prism of WWII concentration camps and although there is a foreshadowing of that, it was nowhere near as bad. There were other camps where conditions were far worse, and conditions for hostages also deteriorated at Holzminden after Gaston was released. There are accounts of women having to use the fields as latrines, for example.