Hitler and a Polish Nativity

Many strange tales come from the archives; occasionally some crop up that are so emotionally complex as to prompt a thoroughly inconclusive evening’s debate.

The following is quoted in full from the 60th Rover Crew (Leys school) record. The meeting following the return of the school to Cambridge after five years in Pitlochry, Scotland and of various Crew members from the War.

You need to know that the Scout Relief team was the ‘Scout International Relief Service’ (SIRS) a volunteer force of Scouters that went into war zones behind the advancing front line to work for refugees.

The first month of this term was devoted to cleaning and redecorating the Den for a second reunion at which 21 Rovers listened to the story of the Scout Relief teams, told by Mr. Ellwood, one of the members. His yarn included the description of a Polish Nativity play in which Hitler and Goering replaced Herod and Pilate.’

These two sentences are the whole of the story for us. Mr R H Ellwood was SM with the 1st Cambridge and worked in the NW Europe teams, some of which worked near Belsen and entered the Belsen Complex.

Six members of the 60th Crew died in the war. The names of those who attended have not been located but it is very likely that some had been in battles and that some had lost family members.

For the listeners maybe all too raw, maybe all too soon to consider this dispassionately (if that is possible), maybe it needed telling, maybe Mr Ellwood needed to tell it (and the rest); maybe it was met with the tail end of ‘wartime humour’ or weariness. And possibly it was just understood, in that moment, as a tale that needed to be told, slightly humerous but requiring little comment and for later thought.

See WW1/WW2/ Scout International Relief Service


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