Tony Casdagli, British POW's Son, Shares Encrypted Cross-Stitching Tale
Cross stitching is an unusual hobby for a father to pass on to a son these day.
But needlework was the ultimate hobby for Tony Casdagli, whose father stitched anti-Hitler messages in his embroidery to keep his sanity as a British prisoner of war held in a Nazi camp, reports the Guardian.
"He did it for defiance to start with, then he did it because he did it," Casdagli told the Guardian. "He hated finishing them because it meant he had to do something else. He loved doing something slavishly. He was a great slave."
Major Alexis Casdagli didn't just sew any old embroidery. In between swastikas, a subversive message in morse code read "God Save the King" and "F*** Hitler" as revealed in his father's published diary. The Nazis apparently never once deciphered the encrypted messages, as his needlework was displayed in four prison camps in Germany.
Major Casdagli also taught a class of 40 soldiers the art of stitching while held as a prisoner of war from 1941-1945.
In an interview with BBC Radio, son Casadagli explained how his father also "stitched a map of the room where he was imprisoned."
Tony became an avid cross-stich artist upon retiring from the British navy in 1984 and until his father died in 1996 at 90, there was a bit of a rivalry between them when it came to embroidery.
Of course, this isn't the first time male soldiers turned to needlework during war time. According to embroidery site bellaonline.com:
It wasn't until World War I when men started to be taught embroidery as part of rehabilitation for wounds and shell shock. These classes were run by the Red Cross for troops of the British Empire and (later) Commonwealth...The classes were revived again with the advent of World War II and this time were extended to all Allied troops.
Both father and son's work will also be on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London at an exhibition called The Power Of Making until 2 January 2012.