Fond Recollections of Captivity
An Austrian POW in Wales

by Horst Jarka

published by University of Montana Press

  • Captured on the Western Front at the end of World War II, Horst Jarka went from Nazi soldier to a prisoner of war in Wales. This collection of excerpts from the journal Jarka kept at the time, as well as letters to and from his family and friends, is accompanied by his later reflections on the year he spent as a POW. This astonishing memoir offers a remarkable and insightful account of the treatment he received from his humane, literate, and critical-thinking Welsh custodians and a warm tribute to the profound and positive ways in which that experience transformed the course of his life.

216 pages, 6 x 9 , Perfect Bound

ISBN 10:
ISBN 13: 9781572412088






Fond Recollections of Captivity
An Austrian POW in Wales

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Born in 1925 in Klosterneuburg, Austria, Horst Jarka and his elder sister, Ruth, were raised by their mother, Maria, a single parent who worked in a garment factory to support her family. As a boy, Horst indulged his natural curiosity by exploring the banks of the Danube; the surrounding hills, fields, and forests; and the alleys and secret nooks and crannies of his city. After being drafted into the German Wehrmacht in 1943 and briefly soldiering on the Western Front in France in 1944, he was captured by the British Army and endured nine months of being shuffled through several English POW camps before landing at a camp in Wales, where he spent the majority of his remaining thirteen months of internment. There he developed, with the help of a Welsh family who “adopted” him, a love of the English language and literature, as well as deeper connection with nature and his own humanity.

Horst returned to the Russian-controlled sector of Austria in 1946 and began a course of study in English and German literature. In 1952, he was one of the first group of Austrians to be selected as a Fulbright Scholar and traveled to the University of Minnesota, where he continued his studies and met his wife, Lois. She followed him back to Austria, and they were married in 1953. Horst assumed a teaching position in Vienna, but after the birth of his son Hannes in 1957, the family moved to Missoula, Montana, where he fulfilled a two-year teaching contract at the University of Montana, after which the Jarka family returned to Vienna with new daughter Käthe. In 1962, they found themselves back in Missoula permanently, this time accompanied by Horst’s mother, Maria. Happily ensconced once again at University of Montana, Horst Jarka became a beloved teacher and respected colleague. Though he is now retired some 27 years, Horst’s contributions to UM as an extraordinary teacher and to Austrian Studies as an internationally important scholar were significant and lasting, as are the many fond memories inscribed in the minds and hearts of his former students and colleagues, neighbors, friends, and community.

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