History Rembered 100th anniversary of Amherst POW camp closure recalled

Hundreds of Amherst residents joined members of the German Luftwaffe band on July 2, 2019, to remember the 100th anniversary of the closure of the Amherst Prisoner of War camp, which held more than 800 internees during the First World War.

The day of remembrance began with a solemn ceremony at the Amherst Cemetery. There the memories of 13 POWs who died in the Amherst POW camp were remembered. As a German honour guard held post, wreaths were laid by MP Bill Casey on behalf of Canada, Lt.-Col Nico Huelshoff, German defence attache to Canada, on behalf of the Federal Republic of Germany, Mayor David Kogon on behalf of the Town of Amherst and retired CWO Ray Coulson on behalf of the commemoration committee.
The fallen soldiers were saluted, the Last Post was played by a Canadian sea cadet and the Lament - Das Lied vom guten Kameraden (Song of the Good Comrade) - was played by a bugler of the German Air Face Band Erfurt
Back at the Col. James Layton Ralston Armoury, a large crowd was on hand to hear and applaud the German Luftwaffe Band.
The band played several pieces before....
... representatives of the the Canadian, German, Nova Scotian and Amherst governments as well as a representative of the Ukrainians who were interred at the POW camp as "Enemy Aliens" addressed the crowd. Each recalled the history of the camp and each noted former enemies became friends. All said they hoped peace will prevail well into the future.
The most memorable moment came when Cadet George Webster play a 100-year-old cello that had been crafted by a German POW. It was the first time in a century that the cello was played. Webster was accompanied by his brothers, Cadets Chris Webster and Duncan Webster, who played violins. One of the violins had belonged to a POW.
The band then played some more selections.
The band was given several standing ovations, which was acknowledge by the orchestra.
At the conclusion of the concert, many in attendance examined several artifacts made by the German POWs and a diorama of the camp, which was located at the corner of Park and Hickman Streets between 1915 and 1919.


Tom McCoag / Town of Amherst

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