In December 2011, I met Brother Herbert Kaden of Turvey Abbey, Bedfordshire, who has been a Benedictine Monk for 40 years, through an Italian friend, who has known him since the early 1970s. Brother Herbert lent me his autobiography Some Memories of My Life in which I came across his recollections about the Prisoner of War Camp in Trumpington.
This is one of a number of pages about Trumpington PoW Camp.
My friend and I visited Brother Herbert at Turvey Abbey in December 2011 not long before his 90th birthday in January 2012. His memory is excellent and he told me much about what he had written in his memoirs about the camp.
Brother Herbert was born in Dresden in 1921. His mother, who was Jewish, came to England with him from Dresden to escape Nazi persecution not long before the outbreak of war, when he was a teenager. Some of her family had already settled here in the early 1930s. He was interned as an Enemy Alien on the Isle of Man but eventually was released and came to live in Cambridge with his mother and one of her cousins. He worked at the Roman Catholic Seminary, St. Edmund’s House, and his mother was secretary of the Cambridge International Club.
When the war ended his mother and he befriended some of the German POWs in Trumpington, who were incredulous that a German Jewish lady, who had to leave her country in order to save her and her son’s life, would want to have anything to do with Germans. But she and her son put common humanity above the prevailing hatred and the friendships they formed became very close and lasted a life time. Brother Herbert still hears from the widows and children of those former POWs and has been visited by many of them.
Brother Herbert gave me a photograph of the Trumpington POW camp, when I told him about the Trumpington Local History Group’s efforts to gain some information about the camp. The photograph had been returned to him by the widow of one of the former prisoners after her husband had died: this was Armin Renner of Chemnitz, Saxony, who was the Secretary of Colonel Stambrook, the camp interpreter. Brother Herbert knew the family well and had visited them in Germany. The photograph is from a high viewpoint, looking west from one of the camp buildings off Hauxton Road.
It was a great privilege to meet Brother Herbert. He is a very special, kindly, saintly man, with a most extraordinary life story.
In his memoir, Brother Herbert refers to one large and two small camps, in and beyond Trumpington. He writes that the larger camp was organised as a re-education camp at the instigation of Colonel Henry Faulk, a Scottish schoolmaster and “warm-hearted, kind person” who was interpreter at several camps. The Interpreter Officer at Trumpington was Captain Charles Stambrook, an Austrian. Captain Stambrook’s secretary was a young prisoner called Armin Renner. Brother Kaden writes that Armin Renner returned to Chemintz, Germany, and married Uschi, who with her children remained in touch with Brother Kaden after her husband died. He also remembered Horst Windshügel, Erich Fuchs, Rudi Tecklenberg (see separate note) and Hans Zammer.
Footnote, 2022: Brother Herbert Kaden celebrated his 100th birthday in January 2021.