Multilinguism in PoW notification

Multilinguism was common practice in the formal correspondence conveying news of prisoners of war. With postcards of notification and personal news going via the Red Cross in Geneva, several languages appear on these postcards.

One imagines the notified individual or family quickly searching for essential information, and only later realising how many languages were involved in its conveyance.

This selection shows not only the range of languages involved in PoW correspondence, but the distances involved; to the families in Innsbruck and Vienna, Vladivostock and British Columbia must have seemed as a far away as the moon. Rudolf Loyda, prisoner of war  in Romania in March 1918 may have felt nearer his home in Vienna (another family member was on the far side of Canada), but Barlad was about as far from Vienna as Vienna was from Ypres.

The card in Italian, Esperanto and German, sent to an Italian PoW in Austria, is a multiple choice print for correspondence from or to a prisoner of war. In this case Alessandro Zilli (rubber-stamped) sends all his family and friends best wishes for Christmas and the New Year, from Birsfelden in Switzerland. We can only guess how Luciano Banzani in camp in Theriesienstadt felt on receiving this news.

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