History on the Net Banner

 Users Online


 

World War Two - German Prisoners of War in Britain

 

POW camps in Britain map

In 1939 there were just two Prisoner of war camps in Britain. By the end of the war; there were more than 600.

Each camp was given a number and was either a disused building - factory, college, hotel etc, or was a specially constructed building known as a Nissen hut. A typical Nissen hut made of corrugated iron is pictured below.

Nissen Hut
 image courtesy The Corrugated Iron Club

 

 

 

Although there were German prisoners of war in Britain from 1939, Britain was reluctant to accept large numbers of German prisoners of war until there was no longer a threat of a German invasion of Britain. Prior to the successful allied defeat of Germany in Africa in 1943, the majority of German prisoners of war were sent to camps in Canada and the US.
 

German Prisoners of War captured in France

 However, after the allied invasion of Western Europe, known as D-Day, 6th June 1944, captured German soldiers were transported to Britain. Those who were Luftwaffe pilots or who were suspected of having knowledge of German military plans, were taken for interrogation before being sent to a camp. Strong Nazi supporters and members of the SS were sent to remote camps such as in the Scottish Highlands.

The terms of the Geneva Convention stipulated that prisoners of war should not be forced to work while in captivity. However, given the choice, many German prisoners of war chose to work rather than sit around the camp doing nothing. Those that chose to worked on farms - harvesting, digging ditches or repairing fences, in the construction industry - rebuilding homes damaged by bombing, or clearing bomb damage.
 

There were also activities within the camp such as lectures, concerts and English lessons, football and other sports. The range of alternative activities such as these varied from camp to camp.

German prisoners of war were allocated the same food ration as British servicemen and given access to medical care. However, although they were relatively well looked after many German prisoners of war suffered mentally. They had no information about their families, the state of their country or when they would be released.

At the end of the war. prisoners were subjected to a re-education programme designed to equip them for life in the new Germany. Prisoners were also assessed with regard to continuing loyalty to Nazi ideals. Those that showed continuing loyalty remained in captivity. The first German prisoners of war returned to their homes in 1946, the last in 1949.

Activities

German POW Wordsearch
 wordsearch logo

German POW Crossword
 crossword logo

German POW Quickquiz
 Quick quiz logo

Worksheet version of this page
German POW camps in the UK

 

Bibliography/Further Information

 

Search this Site    What's New    Historical Terms    Egyptians   Romans    Normans    Medieval Life    Tudors    Stuarts    English Civil War    Native Americans     Black Peoples of America    American West    British Monarchy    The Olympics    Titanic    World War One    Nazi Germany   Holocaust    World War Two    Cold War    A-Z of History    Historical Dictionary    Historical People    Famous Battles    Timelines    Online Lessons    Worksheets    Games    Links to History Sites    History Out and About    On This Day in History


facebook link picture
Follow us on Facebook
Follow History on the Net on Twitter

Tweet button


Stumbleupon


Reddit

 

Updated 25/02/2013
Copyright © Historyonthenet 2000-2014 All rights reserved
Site created November 2000


Site design © History on the Net

Validator image

Terms, Conditions and Privacy