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Published November 18, 2022 Updated November 18, 2022

Hand made WW2 Prisoner of War Playing Cards

made by German soldiers held captive by US troops

1944 Germany USA Hand-Painted Prison Wartime Add to Collection

This featured pack of playing cards was almost certainly made by German army prisoners held by US troops during or just after World War 2.
The cards have been rather naively drawn, by a not very talented artist, using a purple crayon on the back of card cut from U.S. Army Field Ration packets. There are 32 cards with German indices which show that it was probably used for the game of Skat by the German prisoners. The cards are approximately 7.6 x 5.5 cm in size. The ace of spades shows a crest with a design which may indicate the German regiment or division in which the soldiers fought. However, I have not been able to interpret it myself. Maybe somebody who reads this has an idea. (Click image to zoom).

The ration boxes from which the cards are made held chocolate made by the Hershey Chocolate Corporation, but was apparently so hard as to be almost inedible. Maybe that is why it was given to the prisoners. The ration boxes are made from waxed card which is mostly thought to be to protect the contents against damp. However, after the attack on Pearl Harbour by the Japanese it was decided to wax proof the boxes against poisonous gas. This was done between about 1940 and 1948 (according to sources on internet).


Below: The Field Ration box which held the cards

All cards shown are from the collection of Paul Symons ©

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By Paul Symons

Member since February 01, 2016

I'm British but I have now lived in the Netherlands for more than 50 years and am still enjoying every minute of it. I started collecting playing cards in the early 1980’s after speaking with my neighbour who was at that time a croupier in a casino. I started with just collecting jokers, but that soon led me to complete packs of cards and eventually to specialising in old and antique playing cards, particularly those of C.L. Wüst of Frankfurt, Germany. I am presently the Dutch representative of the I.P.C.S. and the auctioneer at the IPCS conventions.


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