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Prisoners of War of the British Empire held in Germany 1939-45
These listings were generally made between April and May 1945 so earlier escapees/repatriations will not be listed.
Personnel of the British armed forces as well as Merchant seamen were captured during the Second World War and placed in one of the different types of prisoner of war camps run by the Germans. Oflag was a prisoner of war camp for officers, Stalag was for enlisted personnel, and there were separate camps for navy, aircrews and civilians (Marlag/MIlag, Lufts and Ilag respectively) . All PoWs were supposed to be protected by rules for the treatment of prisoners of war, which had been established in the Geneva Convention of 1929.
Articles 77-80 of the International Convention Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War imposed upon a country detaining PoWs a duty to report their capture to their own government. This was achieved usually through the agency of another state - generally a neutral country - acting as a 'Protecting Power' for such personnel. The function of a Protecting Power exists only during war-time, and can only be carried out with the consent of the belligerents. Thus, it provides a channel of communication between them. Information regarding PoWs was also communicated via the International Committee of the Red Cross, based in Switzerland .
During the war of 1939-1945 information of Pows was collated for the most part in the War Office by the Directorate of Prisoners of War [DPW], which was set up under the department of the Adjutant-General to administer all PoW matters.
We have an extensive library of magazines and books detailing POW life in General and camps in particular in our ‘historic documents library’, some of which are seldom seen and rare, often with good quality photographs too!
Records in this collection are likely to include the following:
- service number
- prisoner of war number
- final camp location
Please be aware that due to the way we collate, and cross reference our databases, some records will contain more information than that listed above.
Original Source: The national archives WO392/1 – WO392/20.
Hayward 3 volumes-
‘Prisoners of War - armies & land forces of the British Empire 1939-45’
The national archives’ War Office: Directorate of Prisoners of War: Prisoners of War Lists, Second World War’.