Tracing Your Prisoner of War Ancestors: The First World War : A Guide for Family Historians
The experience of civilian internees and British prisoners of war in German and Turkish hands during the First World War is one of the least well-known and least researched aspects of the history of the conflict. The same applies to prisoners of war and internees held in the UK. Yet, as Sarah Paterson shows in this authoritative handbook, a wide-range of detailed and revealing information is available if you know where to look for it.
Briefly she outlines the course of the campaigns in which British servicemen were captured, and she describes how they were treated and the conditions they endured. She locates the camps they were taken to and explains how they were run. She also shows how this emotive and neglected subject can be researched - how archives and records can be used to track down individual prisoners and uncover something of the lives they led in captivity.Her work will be an essential introduction for readers who are keen to get an insight into the experience of a POW or an internee during the First World War, and it will be an invaluable guide for anyone who is trying to trace an ancestor who was captured.
The author works in the library at the Imperial War Museum and has extensive experience in assisting researchers tracing individuals who were POWs during 1914 - 1919. This book, in the Pen and Sword Tracing Your Ancestors in series, is a collaboration between the publisher and the museum.
The book divides into two sections: the first is the main text, with chapters on POWs in Germany, Austria, Bulgaria and Turkey and also on civilian internees. There are also resources from the opposite perspective with chapters on German POWs and civilian internees in the UK. Sara Paterson structures the main chapters in a similar way - an outline of the processes involved, different aspects of each situation and, where relevant and available, a personal case study, eg. of a British officer, a German internee, etc.
The second section consists of 8 appendices and an index. Appendix 1 is a list of archives, institutions, websites and blogs mentioned in the earlier text with contact addresses and brief summaries of what records are held by each. Other appendices include Bulgarian camp information, a glossary and selected bibliography grouped in geographical areas. Most useful of all are appendices six, seven and eight which list all known camps for British and allied prisoners in Germany and neutral countries, Turkey, and camps in Britain for German prisoners respectively.
One thing to be aware of which may cause slight confusion is that the book was first published in 2012 and so inevitably some website links and URLs will be out of date and other resources have since appeared. That being said, this is still essential reading for those who want to try to locate a WW1 POW relative and to learn about the places and conditions they were held in. As will be inferred from earlier, this book should also be of help to German family historians tracing POWs in Great Britain.
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