Pursuit of an 'Unparalleled Opportunity'
The American YMCA and Prisoner of War Diplomacy among the Central Power Nations
during World War I, 1914-1923.
by Kenneth Steuer

Key Figures

YMCA Secretaries

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Lars Stubbe Teglbjärg

This Danish YMCA Secretary volunteered to work in the War Prisoners' Aid (WPA) program in Austria-Hungary and arrived in the Dual Monarchy in November 1916. He started POW relief operations at Marchtrenck, Aschbach, and Braunau-am-Inn in Oberösterreich (Upper Austria) and later extended services to Allied prisoners to Grödig in Salzburg in June 1917. Teglbjärg also helped administer WPA operations in Austria-Hungary, working in the WPA Central Office in Vienna under Edgar MacNaughten and Max Wilhelmi.

F. Terrisse

A Swiss pastor, Reverend Terrisse volunteered to work with German prisoners of war in France in 1914, with the support of the World's Alliance. Terrisse assisted Pastor J. Namblard conducting visits to prisoner of war and civilian internment camps in Rochefort and Aix. They made a major effort to bring yuletide joy to German prisoners during Christmas 1914.

Heinrich Thommen

See also:
Chap. 13, p23
This Swiss YMCA secretary volunteered to serve in Austria-Hungary as a World's Alliance War Prisoners Aid Secretary as a neutral worker to replace the American WPA Secretaries who left the Dual Monarchy in April 1917. Thommen arrived in Austria-Hungary in February 1918 as a replacement for Hermann Morgenthaler and worked in Bohemia, serving in the prison camps in Brüx, Heinrichsgrün, Plan, and Eger. Thommen remained in Bohemia after the Armistice and continued to support Association programs in the new country of Czechoslovakia until February 1919.

F. Hill Turner

This American YMCA secretary served with the Russian Department in post-war Germany. Turner supervised the Association Technical School in Wünsdorf, a vocational program which taught Russian refugees a wide range of occupations.

W. H. Underwood

The English librarian of the World's Committee, Underwood became a World's Alliance Secretary in 1909. He supervised the International Historical Library in Geneva and was responsible for the historical papers of the World's Alliance and books and documents in thirty languages. In April 1918, Underwood attended the meeting where John R. Mott explained his actions by participating in the Root Mission to Russia and Archibald Harte's administration of the War Prisoners' Aid program in response to German YMCA accusations. In 1919, Mott and Sir Arthur Yapp agreed to send every book, pamphlet, and periodical published by the National YMCA Councils of the United States and Great Britain to the International Historical Library to make the library the repository for international Association holdings. Underwood resigned from the World's Committee in 1926.