This story is so close to my heart that it’s taken me a month to figure out how to write about it. It’s the story of Major Alexis Casdagli, a British soldier in WWII who began cross stitching secret subversive messages while in a Nazi prisoner of war camp. It’s the story of his son, Tony Casdagli, also a cross stitcher, and how he put together a book of his father’s work. And it’s also about the amazing show currently at the Victoria and Albert Museum in which includes work from both father and son.
So many people sent me the article that appeared in The Guardian, knowing it would be right up my alley. I was so enchanted with the story that I immediately ordered the book and then, to my great surprise and delight, was able to get in touch with Major Casdagli’s son via email and ask him a few questions.
First, the story of Major Alexis Casdagli, who was imprisoned by the Nazis from 1941 to 1945. To pass the time, he began stitching on scraps of canvas and bits of thread. The most outstanding piece is a seemingly innocent sampler with a border design - but the dots and dashes are actually Morse code that spell out “God Save the King” and “Fuck Hitler”.
The amazing thing about Major Casdagli’s work is that it was displayed in four separate camps where he was imprisoned, but his captors never caught on to the secretly stitched messages. He also ran a needlework school for 40 officers inside the camp. His work illustrated his thoughts and feelings, and was undoubtedly a major source of strength in surviving his four years as a POW.
-Julie Jackson, Craftzine.com