Violence against Prisoners of War in the First World War: Britain, France and Germany, 1914-1920

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In this groundbreaking new study, Heather Jones provides the first in-depth and comparative examination of violence against First World War prisoners. She shows how the war radicalised captivity treatment in Britain, France and Germany, dramatically undermined international law protecting prisoners of war and led to new forms of forced prisoner labour and reprisals, which fuelled wartime propaganda that was often based on accurate prisoner testimony. This book reveals how, during the conflict, increasing numbers of captives were not sent to home front camps but retained in western front working units to labour directly for the British, French and German armies – in the German case, by 1918, prisoners working for the German army endured widespread malnutrition and constant beatings. Dr Jones examines the significance of these new, violent trends and their later legacy, arguing that the Great War marked a key turning-point in the twentieth century evolution of the prison camp.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Although it refers to several existing studies, Heather Jones's book, based upon a wide array of sources, goes far beyond them. [...] Overall, this study makes an important contribution on a long overlooked theme: the comparative approach reveals new perspectives." -Michael Epkenhans, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

" important contribution for all students of WWI. Highly recommended." -Choice

"Thanks to its impressive scope, the book promises to become a necessary read for students of the war and a go-to book on POWs more broadly speaking. For scholars of World War I, Jones’s study will be critical for her contributions to the contextualization of wartime violence." -Heather Jones, Journal of British Studies

"Violence against Prisoners of War in the First World War is an important work that explores the dynamic relationships that drove Britain, France, and especially Germany to adopt increasingly harsh methods in dealing with military prisoners. It also sheds light on the broader question of to what degree “total” war characterized the prisoner experience." -American Historical Review

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Product Details

Meet the Author

Heather Jones is Lecturer in International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her previous publications include Untold War: New Perspectives in First World War Studies (co-edited with Christoph Schmidt-Supprian and Jennifer O'Brien, 2008).
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Table of Contents

Introduction; Part I. Propaganda Representations of Violence Against Prisoners: 1. Encountering the 'enemy': civilian violence towards prisoners of war in 1914; 2. Legitimate and illegitimate violence against prisoners: representations of atrocity, 1914–16; Part II. Violence and Prisoner of War Forced Labour: 3. The development of prisoner of war labour companies on the Western Front: the spring reprisals of 1917; 4. From discipline to retribution: violence in German prisoner of war labour companies in 1918; 5. Inevitable escalation? British and French treatment of forced prisoner labour, 1917–18; Part III. The End of Violence? Repatriation and Remembrance: 6. Contested homecomings: prisoner repatriation and the formation of memory, 1918–21; 7. La grande illusion: the interwar historicisation of violence against prisoners of war, 1922–39; Epilogue: the legacy of First World War captivity in 1939–45; Conclusion.
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