When we write these words, many of us have endured various incarnations of social distancing, lockdowns, or even outright quarantine. We have spent the last few weeks mostly in our flats or houses, sometimes looking through our windows and seeing the very same landscape every day. Features like distant buildings, trees, parks, and other features, might have become dull. Other, perhaps more picturesque places, which had always been within such a short walk that we hadn’t cared for it, now, for many of us, might as well be located on the moon. All this due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This situation, however, gives us the opportunity to relate to the feelings of prisoners held captive in various camps across a WWII-torn world. Although sometimes a POW might get a pass to a nearby town, more often than not he spent days, weeks, months, and years staring through the same fence at the same terrain features. For the Kriegies held at Oflag 64, the most prominent feature visible was the Szubin Skyline, as depicted in the diary of Major Newton Cole, one of the POWs.
Decades have elapsed since the POWs left the camp, and the town of Schubin/Altburgund became again Szubin within a much-altered Poland. Vegetation and new construction has obscured much of the ‘Schubin Skyline’, so it’s no longer possible to observe the same panorama as the Kriegies had. Some buildings, like the windmill and the fire tower, have since been torn down. Still, most of the buildings are still there. See a gallery of these same structures featured in ‘Szubin Skyline’, as they appear today. It’s not always possible to see them at the same angle as the Kriegies had to for such a long time. Hopefully, mindful of their ordeal, we may find courage to live through the COVID-19 restrictions.
Below the page from Maj. Cole's diary, and photographs of the existing structures from the skyline. The windmill and the fire tower have been torn down since the war.