JF Ptak Science Books Post 1305
This remarkable photograph is part of an archive of World War I Underwood & Underwood News Photo Service photographs I purchased many years ago. It shows a pile of German soldiers' uniforms--thousands of them--taken from German prisoners, the clothing headed for "cleaning and repair".
[This photo, along with mnay others, is available for purchase from our blog bookstore.]
I didn't know before this that the uniforms were repaired--I can imagine the cleaning part, since the prisoners must wear something, and deep into the fifth year of the war it seems hardly the case that they would be given anything at all to wear except for what they were captured in. the cleaning part sounds logical too, especially as the cleaning was being done by the prisoners themselves (pictured here). Clean clothing makes for more sanitary conditions in mass compounds for thousands of prisoners, and lowers cost for the health maintenance for the prisoners in the short and long run. And so far as repairing goes: attached buttons make for closed coats; closed coats allow prisoners to have a better chance at staying healthy in the coming cold months. Just ask Napoleon about the cost of thread on the buttons of his army's overcoats in the march towards Moscow. (The thread that wasn't used cost very little; the cheaper thread that was used cost everything.)
And the detail:
The cleaning and repairing went on, the prisoners kept coming in--even for those involved, the scent of the end of the war was in the air, though I doubt that the majority felt that it was only a week away.