Neville Wylie

in Barbed Wire Diplomacy

Published in print April 2010 | ISBN: 9780199547593
Published online May 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191720581 | DOI:

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The concluding chapter begins by questioning the validity of the explanations commonly put forward for the comparatively high survival rates of British POWs in German hands during the Second World War, notably the absence of any ideological or racial antipathy towards British POWs, and the influence of reciprocity in German thinking. It suggests, by contrast, that British POWs directly benefited from the support of their government, and the existence of a well‐informed and active next‐of‐kin lobby at home. Working through neutral intermediaries, London ultimately exercised considerable leverage over its adversary. More importantly, though, it suggests that Britain's success rested on the basic symmetry of values existing between the two sides. For all their differences, the two governments were familiar foes. Hitler and his generals were constrained in their treatment of British POWs by a set of traditional beliefs and assumptions that proved remarkably resilient to change, and encouraged German compliance with customary western European norms over imprisonment and captivity.

Keywords: prisoner(s) of war; reciprocity; ideology; norms; traditional beliefs; lobby group; intermediaries; Second World War

Chapter.  4393 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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