York & North Yorkshire

Indiana Jones actor honours POW grandfather in Skipton

Diagram of the camp in Kriegsgefangen and area now Image copyright Kriegsgefangen/BBC
Image caption Raikeswood Camp, pictured here in a sketch in the Kriegsgefangen diary, has been replaced with housing with little evidence left of its existence

An Indiana Jones actor will unveil a display remembering his grandfather and other men held at a North Yorkshire prisoner of war camp.

Naval officer Fritz Sachsse was among hundreds of Germans at Raikeswood Camp in Skipton at the end of World War One.

Researchers have now translated a diary Lieutenant Commander Sachsse wrote at the camp.

They then realised his grandson was Wolf Kahler who was Nazi colonel Herman Dietrich in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

Image caption A new information board shares the stories of the 912 German men held at Raikeswood Camp during the Great War

The camp was hit by an outbreak of Spanish Flu in 1919 which claimed the lives of 47 of the prisoners.

The diary, called Kriegsgefangen, gives first-hand accounts of how the virus spread through the camp, along with general tales of life as a prisoner of war.

Image copyright United Agents
Image caption Wolf Kahler's best-known scene in Raiders of the Lost Ark is arguably his gruesome demise when the ark is opened

Diaries and sketches made in captivity were smuggled out of the camp and the book was published in 1920 when they returned to Germany.

After a copy of the book emerged in Skipton Library decades later, researchers at the University of Leeds started to translate it in 2015 and searched for relatives of the men held at the camp.

Image copyright SkiptonPOW
Image caption German prisoners from the camp made diary entries and sketches which they smuggled out and published when they returned home

Kahler, who also starred in the HBO series Band of Brothers and the Stanley Kubrick film Barry Lyndon, said he was contacted "out of the blue" by the team translating his grandfather's words, with a book on the research due to be published soon.

"It'll be a very moving event for me when the board is revealed, I'm so amazed about the number of people who have been involved in the investigations and research," he said.

"I'm grateful that they've involved me as well, it's fantastic."

The actor, who was 14 when his grandfather died and who now lives in London, said the soldiers were generally "well kept, fairly treated and often taken for long walks through the woods" in the town.

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