Landscapes of Internment: British Prisoner of War Camps and the Memory of the First World War
AffiliationUniversity of Chester
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AbstractDuring the First World War, all the belligerent powers interned both civilian and military prisoners. In Britain alone, over 100,000 people were held behind barbed wire. Despite the scale of this enterprise, interment barely features in Britain's First World War memory culture. By exploring the place of prisoner of war camps within the "militarized environment" of the home front, this article demonstrates the centrality of internment to local wartime experiences. Being forced to share the same environment meant that both British civilians and German prisoners clashed over access to resources, roads and the surrounding landscape. As the article contends, it was only when the British started to employ the prisoners on environmental improvement measures, such as land drainage or river clearance projects, that relations gradually improved. With the end of the war and closure of the camps, however, these deep entanglements were quickly forgotten. Instead of commemorating the complexities of the conflict, Britain's memory culture focused on more comfortable narratives; British military "sacrifice" on the Western Front quickly replaced any discussion of the internment of the "enemy" at home.
CitationGrady, T. (2019). Landscapes of Internment: British Prisoner of War Camps and the Memory of the First World War. Journal of British Studies, 58(3), 543-564
PublisherCambridge University Press
JournalJournal of British Studies
DescriptionThis article has been accepted for publication and will appear in a revised form, subsequent to peer review and/or editorial input by Cambridge University Press, in Journal of British Studies published by Cambridge University Press. Copyright Cambridge University Press.
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/