Prisoner mistreatment

These accusations were not all propaganda stories. Although the majority of the estimated eight to nine million men taken prisoner during the First World War survived the conflict, during the war there were a number of serious episodes of prisoner mistreatment. In 1914, Germany captured far more prisoners of war than Britain or France. By 1915, Germany held over a million prisoners of war. Germany expected a short war and it was not prepared for these numerous soldiers captured on both Germany’s Eastern and Western Fronts. In 1914, prisoners of war transported to Germany from the Front often had to sleep in fields, where they suffered from exposure, while they waited for their camps to be built. The prisoners were also used as labour to build the camps. In Germany, Austria-Hungary and Russia in 1915, prisoner of war camps were often unsanitary and that year a severe typhus epidemic broke out which cost the lives of thousands of prisoners. In Mauthausen camp in Austria-Hungary in January 1915, up to 186 prisoners a day died of typhus. Typhus also broke out in many camps in camps in the Russian empire: in winter 1915-16, typhus ravaged Totskoe camp where at least 10,000 men died out of 25,000. The typhus epidemic led to the development of better hygiene conditions in prisoner of war camps in Germany, with modern latrines, disinfection vats to remove lice from clothing and shower or bath houses built for the prisoners. Reprisals also resulted in prisoner mistreatment. In 1916, Germany sent newly captured British and French prisoners to carry out forced labour on the Eastern Front in a reprisal action for the French sending German prisoners of war to camps in North Africa and the British using German prisoners as workers for the British army in France. These Eastern Front reprisals were horrific and many prisoners died of cold and starvation. In 1917, Germany kept British and French prisoners of war on the Western Front in dangerous locations, carrying out forced labour. This was a reprisal for the British and French using forced German prisoner labour on the Western Front: the French had forced German prisoners to work under shellfire for months on the Verdun battlefield. These reprisals marked a significant escalation in prisoner of war mistreatment. – See more at: http://www.bl.uk/world-war-one/articles/prisoners-of-war#sthash.glTDtEk1.dpuf

  1. The First World War marked the shift from a 19th century, relatively ad hoc management of prisoners of war, to the 20th century’s sophisticated prisoner of war camp systems, with their bureaucratic management, rationalization of the labour use of prisoners, and
    Prisoners of war:

    complex modern logistical and security apparatuses. It also led to transnational, global systems of captivity. This article will assess prisoner treatment throughout the war in a variety of theatres, looking at capture, the construction of camp systems, prisoner labour, humanitarianism, mistreatment, prisoner identity and repatriation and argue that, although standards varied, the overall trend was towards increased state control and modernization. Go to following link for further information

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