Life behind the wire: rare images of Prisoner of War Camps

As we approach Armistice Day 100 years after the end of the Great War we look at German Prisoner of War camps in Britain over a century ago

Heritage Calling

‘Prisoners of war are in the power of the hostile Government, but not of the individuals or corps who capture them.

They must be humanely treated. All their personal belongings, except arms, horses, and military papers, remain their property…’

Chapter II of the Hague Convention, ratified 18 October 1907.

German prisoners of war (POWs) sat at long tables set for a meal German prisoners of war (POWs) at mealtime, Feltham camp, Greater London. © International Committtee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

To ensure that signatories to the Convention followed its guidance, the International Committee of the Red Cross, based in Geneva, arranged inspections of POW and internment camps across Europe and around the globe.

Photographic records were made of conditions within the camps.  A selection of these rarely seen images is shown here, illustrating camp life in England during the war.  Many are captioned in German, the majority language of Switzerland.

Prisoner of War Camps

From the outbreak of hostilities in August 1914…

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