Five Years Behind
Hitler's Barbed Wire

barbed wire
edited by Jacqueline Collins


Stone & Stone

Stone & Stone: Second World War Books

The following is an excerpt from a review that appeared on Stone & Stone on November 1, 2015 by Bill Stone.

These diary entries clearly weren't just thrown together or simply typeset directly from scribbled notes. The original French publication definitely received some TLC from the authors, editors, and/or publisher in 1946. While they might not qualify as high literature, the entries maintain a thoughtful, well-tended tone throughout. The daily material alone proves engaging enough on its own.

However, it's unlikely any reader in the 21st Century—even a Frenchman—would be able to grasp all the wartime references, inside lingo, and cultural tidbits of French prisoners in the 1940s. The main milestones of WWII mentioned in the diary will be familiar enough to any student of the war, but some of the events are very specific to France and the French experience, and less well known. Other mysteries spring from the isolated nature of the POWs, who formed their own close-knit society in order to survive.

Time and again she [the editor] gently inserts clarifications and explanations that simply won't be at the fingertips of modern readers. That her father was himself a French officer and POW as well as publisher of the original edition of the book might be of benefit, but Collins deserves a great deal of credit for her determined effort to transform Five Years Behind Hitler's Barbed Wire from a mere curiosity to something far more valuable.

The wartime diarists and the modern editor and translator have created a memorable, sometimes poignant record of a life-altering existence in difficult circumstances

The review in its entirety can be found at