American prisoners of war in the Third Reich / by Andrew S. Hasselbring.
Germany held a total of 92,965 American prisoners of war during the Second World War. This dissertation uses archival materials and 101 interviews with former POWs and others connected to their experiences to examine the history of the American prisoners of war in the Third Reich. It explores the moral and practical reasons Americans were captured. The interrogation and transit camp experiences are also examined. This period was a time of tremendous instability for the prisoner because of the changing surroundings and continual threats to his safety. Germany's interrogation techniques, the military intelligence gained, and the effect on the prisoner are analyzed. The major portion of the dissertation studies the administration of the permanent camps both by the Germans and by the prisoners. German administration is examined on the national and camp level. Since permanent camp conditions varied widely, several examples of the three types of permanent camps (officer, enlisted men, and work detachment) are examined in order to present a more accurate history. The camps' physical makeup, security, outside relief, food and other provisions, medical, care, sanitation, work, and pay are discussed as they relate to German administration on both levels. Then, the dissertation examines the POWs' organization and its struggle to improve the prisoners' plight within the constraints of the Germans' administration. The prisoners' organization primarily focused on building and maintaining morale, through sports, theater, music, education, news, mail, and religion. Also examined is the mental, as well as physical, importance of food to the POW, and the overall affects the prisoner of war experience had on the Americans' mental state. The final chapter summarizes the conclusions of this work, and offers an analysis of the shortcomings of the Geneva Convention and of the United States government in assisting the prisoners of war in the Third Reich.
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