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What is the Aonogahara Prisoner of War Camp?

記事ID:0001816 更新日:2020年11月30日更新 印刷ページ表示 大きな文字で印刷ページ表示
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The Aonogahara Prisoner of War Camp was an internment facility for prisoners of war from Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Dual Monarchy during World War I and was located at what is now Aonohara-cho, Kasai City, Hyogo. Aonogahara was used as a military horse training center in 1889 and later as an army exercise area. The prisoner of war camp was built on the southern side of the Takaoka Barracks within this military exercise area.

During World War I, Japan invaded the German colony of Qingdao, China, and took 4,689 German and Austro-Hungarian soldiers as prisoners. The soldiers were initially interned at 12 separate camps in Japan, but were transferred to a full-scale camp equipped with special facilities beginning in September 1915. Eventually, the prisoner of war camps were concentrated at six locations across the country: Narashino, Chiba; Nagoya, Aichi; Aonogahara, Hyogo; Bando, Tokushima; Ninoshima, Hiroshima; and Kurume, Fukuoka. The Aonogahara Prisoner of War Camp had a maximum of nearly 500 prisoners, many of whom were Austro-Hungarian soldiers. Among the prisoners interned in Japan, many spent their time at Aonogahara until returning to their home countries (around January 1920).

The Aonogahara Prisoner of War Camp was long-forgotten history until investigations gradually revealed details about the camp. The origin of these revelations was when Mr. Dirk van der Raan, whose father had been interned as a prisoner at Bando, provided the “Kersten’s Diary.” Pictures and other materials collected by Mr. van der Raan and pictures in the possession of Hans Joachim Schmidt, a researcher living in Germany, were also added and these materials revealed for the first time how prisoners had lived at the camp. A field survey conducted later discovered a sign on the ridgepole of the Aonogahara Prisoner of War Camp.

Kobe University, Ono City, Hyogo, and Kasai City, Hyogo, cooperated in conducting survey activities. Items having some connection to the prisoners were provided by local residents and exhibitions featuring the Aonogahara Prisoner of War Camp started being held. One of them was a “go-back-home” exhibition held in Vienna in 2008. Mr. Dieter Linke, who lives in Germany, provided more than 300 photos taken by Hangstein, who was interned at the Aonogahara Prisoner of War Camp, and these photos gave us the opportunity to actually see the way the Aonogahara Prisoner of War Camp was and how the prisoners lived there. Some of the photos even portrayed the world outside the camp. The photos shown here are in the possession of Mr. Dieter Linke unless otherwise noted.


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