Monday, September 24, 2018


by Uttam Gill (writer), BOMBAY(MUMBAI), November 06, 2011

It is about the POW (prisoner of war) of WW I who were in HALF MOON CAMP AT WUNSDORF near Berlin.In 1916 more than 1600 prisoner voices were recorded and kept in HUMBOLDT UNIVERSITY, BERLIN.

Out of blue if given a chance for you to listen to the voice of your great grand father of whom you must have heard from your parents or grand father or it may be you must have only seen his old blurred photograph in military uniform. How you would feel if it so happened? Exactly this is what happened to me when one day a news report caught my attention and that was about Soldiers of World War I. The extract of the news was like this; during WW I many POW camps were doting the Germany map. At that that time few German scholars experimented with an idea to have a museum of all the languages of the world. For that to start with in these POW camps they chose to record the voices of prisoner in the language which prisoner speaks. More than 1600 prisoner voices were recorded in 1916 and locked on to the shellac records. And one of the camps where these recordings were made was HALF MOON CAMP AT WUNSDORF on the outskirt of Berlin and in this camp many Indian soldiers were also kept. It is believed some 700 recordings of Indian prisoners were also made.. These recordings were believed to be lost in oblivion. WW I finished and many soldiers perished, few could never get back to their families and many declared as missing. Those unfortunates who could never get back to their country for them many must have waited for long in hope that they will come back but they never returned. All these years this fact passed down to generations that once their great grand father left this country to fight a great WW I and never returned.

At time THE PAST returns back. These recordings are recently found in the Archives of HUMBOLDT UNIVERSITY, BERLIN. Gentleman by name PHILIP SCHEFFNER has made a documentary by name “THE HALF MOON FILES”. His endeavor is to transform these collection from archive into the voices of real past to reach all those who once eagerly waited for them and to the grand children who did not know that their great grand father recorded voices are kept in the Archives of HUMBOLDT UNIVERSITY, BERLIN. Among them one of the soldiers was MALL SINGH whose voice was also recorded. It was very briefly touched upon that he was from village RANOSAKI or RANSIKE in district FIROZEPORE. He was born in 1892; his mother was from village DERKI in district LUDHIANA. He was Punjabi speaking (My Mother tongue) and was Zimindar (Land lord).It is also mentioned in the news that they couldn’t make any head way in tracing the relatives of MALL SINGH.

This news moved me. I realized how unfortunate they were who couldn’t get back to there village and died unsung in foreign land. I immediately called my friend from FIROZEPUR and narrated him the entire story and asked him to find out that if any village by name RANOSAKI or RANSIKE in district FIROZEPORE exist. Within 24 hours he confirmed that the village by name RAN SIKE exists even now and within half an hour I could talk to the resident of that village by name Shamsher Singh. I too narrated him about MALL SINGH and asked him to find out his relative if any living in that village. Nothing happened I am still waiting a call from him.

Those who are from Germany can they help me in knowing more about HALF MOON CAMP AT WUNSDORF and about those recordings which I mentioned. Can they tell me how can I get into touch with PHILIP SCHEFFNER?

"I hold a noble task to rescue from oblivion those deserve to be eternally remembered"-Pliny:Epistles

"The country, your companions and the length of your journey will afford a hundreds compensation for your toil"-OVID,Remediorum Amoris

About the Writer

Uttam Gill is a writer for BrooWaha. For more information, visit the writer's website.
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