PRISONERS OF WAR
WW1

Private Gregory POW.jpg
Friedrichsfeld POW camp WW1

Main photo: Friedrichsfeld Prisoner of War Camp near Cologne, Germany

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Many local men were taken prisoner during the First World War.  They were often reported missing in the local newspapers, before reports emerged that they were alive, but being held in Prisoner of War camps.

 

More information can be found at https://grandeguerre.icrc.org/ from where the following text was taken.  The website contains the delegates’ mission reports, along with postcard photographs of the camps.

“8 million soldiers fighting on the front and 2 million civilians, mainly those living abroad in enemy countries or areas under enemy occupation, were taken prisoner and interned in camps for several years.  On the 21st August 1914, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) established the International Prisoners-of-War Agency in Geneva, to which the warring States submitted, more or less regularly, lists of prisoners.  The Agency received 400,000 pages of documents: lists of prisoners’ names and records of capture, of transfers between camps and of deaths in detention.  For each name listed, the Agency made out an index card.  The cards were then classified by nationality and the detainee’s military or civilian status and filed alphabetically in 29 different card indexes.  These indexes also contain enquiry cards, drawn up on the basis of data taken from the thousands of written requests for information submitted daily by relatives of the missing, which the Agency indexed before destroying the correspondence.


The Agency’s archives hold 5 million index cards, containing data on 2 million prisoners, primarily from the Western, Romanian and Serbian Fronts. Indexes relating to the vast Russian Front are kept in the archives of the Danish Red Cross in Copenhagen, as Denmark was a neutral State during the First World War.  Alongside its efforts to restore contact between relatives separated by war, which remains a vital part of the ICRC’s work today, the organization also sent delegates on missions to inspect 524 prisoner-of-war and internment camps in Europe, the French colonies in North Africa, India, and even as far afield as Japan.  They interviewed prisoners and camp authorities, and inspected detention conditions in the camps: hygiene, food, working conditions, and whether prisoners were able to write to their families.”