Chapter

POWs and Anglo–German Relations, 1939–1941

Neville Wylie

in Barbed Wire Diplomacy

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199547593
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191720581 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199547593.003.0004
POWs and Anglo–German Relations, 1939–1941

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This chapter traces British policy towards POWs from the start of the war until the end of 1941, and highlights the steps taken to encourage German compliance with the POW regime. The development of a consistent policy towards its POWs was frequently compromised by Winston Churchill's refusal to place the prisoners' humanitarian interests before the country's strategic and military objectives. The problem was exacerbated by the lack of care and attention paid by those in power to Britain's own responsibilities as a detaining power. Notwithstanding these difficulties and the outbreak of Hitler's ideological war of annihilation against the Soviet Union in July 1941, substantial progress had been made towards forging an effective working relationship with the German regime over the treatment of POWs. The sense of stability that had developed by the autumn of 1941 was thrown into doubt by Adolf Hitler's last‐minute refusal to countenance the repatriation of British sick and wounded POWs in October 1941, an act which called into question Germany's long‐term commitment to cooperative relations with the British government.

Keywords: Anglo‐German relations; prisoner(s) of war; repatriation; Soviet—German War; Winston Churchill; Adolf Hitler; compliance; cooperation

Chapter.  11683 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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