When I was drafted to three weeks of retraining in the army I declared myself conscientious objector and had to serve instead six weeks in Oxbøl camp.
Oxbøl was a camp for 10,000 people created by the German army during the occupation and was now after the war being dismantled by conscientious objectors. We had to dig up old roads and separate the stones from the gravel. We were supposed to produce a certain amount of cubic feet per day, but since we were only there for a short time the staff didn’t enforce the rules strictly on us. We did some work because it was winter and we were outdoors, but mostly we were leaning on our shovels, talking and smoking cigarettes.
Oxbøl was far away from any town and in our free time we had only the entertainment offered in the camp. I chose the pottery workshop and soon became friends with the teacher, a young objector named Henning. I passed all my free time there and was assisting when the pots were fired. This was done in an old fashioned kiln fired up with wood and it was an all night project. Every ten minutes the kiln had to be stoked and in between Henning and I sat in the candlelight and drank red wine, the only ones in the camp awake and snug in the cold night.
After such a night I slept in and coming from the shower with a towel round my waist I met one of the staff. “Why are you not at work?” he asked. “Because I don’t have any clothes on,” I said, and because my answer was confident and prompt he accepted it in spite of its absurdity.
I had a big surprise one evening on a walk with Henning. Suddenly he stopped me, turned me towards him and kissed me. “Are you happy now?” he said. I was more like stunned, I had no idea he was gay and I was not in love with him. Anyway we were friends and he was a nice boy, so I didn’t object and conveniently we had the workshop all to ourselves!