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POW: Allied Prisoners in Europe, 1939-45

de Adrian Gilbert

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Just under 300,000 Allied servicemen from Britain, the Commonwealth and the United States were captured in Europe and North Africa between 1939 and 1945. Using a wealth of new sources, POW describes their experiences. Prisoners' day-to-day lives are vividly rendered: the workings of the prison-camp system; the ways in which prisoners maintained contact with the outside world through letters, parcels and the benign agency of the Red Cross; artistic and intellectual endeavours; as well as unacknowledged aspects of camp life such as the development of sexual relations - both heterosexual and homosexual. Everyday life is offset by high drama, as POW tells of the secret organisations who smuggled escape aids to the prisoners. In return they furnished their home nations with intelligence from occupied Europe. Although few men were actively engaged in escape attempts, many provided tacit support or were engaged in sabotage and other resistance activities. Adrian Gilbert foregrounds the forgotten voices of the prisoners themselves by threading eleven individual stories through the narrative. POW is a compelling window onto a crucial aspect of the Second World War.… (mais)
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Exibindo 2 de 2
Great book. There's been a lot of books about individual camps, but this is the first I've read that covers the whole POW experience in Germany and Italy. Gilbert weaves his book around the individual stories of 11 individuals from Britain, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, representing all the armed services and all ranks, and covers all the main camps in both Axis countries. Some surprises, the Italians were much stricter in some ways than the Germans, prisoners were able to undertake exams from British universities with unbelievable co-operation between Britain and Germany meaning exam papers could be sent to the camps and returned to Britain for marking, and that some prisoners on work details even managed to have romances with German women. The way the prisoners rose above their miserable situation to make the best of things is quite inspiring, although there are some dark tales of crime and violence. Terriffic read for anyone interested in WWII or war history in general. ( )
  drmaf | May 1, 2017 |
Fine book about life for Allied prisoners of war in German and Italian prison camps. Covers daily life, occupations, boredom, Red Cross packages, interaction between prisoners and captors. General because it does not focus on one specific P.O.W. camp, though it refers a lot to both Colditz and to Oflag Luft III (American and British compounds) of Great Escape fame. ( )
  marylinusca | Feb 22, 2008 |
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Just under 300,000 Allied servicemen from Britain, the Commonwealth and the United States were captured in Europe and North Africa between 1939 and 1945. Using a wealth of new sources, POW describes their experiences. Prisoners' day-to-day lives are vividly rendered: the workings of the prison-camp system; the ways in which prisoners maintained contact with the outside world through letters, parcels and the benign agency of the Red Cross; artistic and intellectual endeavours; as well as unacknowledged aspects of camp life such as the development of sexual relations - both heterosexual and homosexual. Everyday life is offset by high drama, as POW tells of the secret organisations who smuggled escape aids to the prisoners. In return they furnished their home nations with intelligence from occupied Europe. Although few men were actively engaged in escape attempts, many provided tacit support or were engaged in sabotage and other resistance activities. Adrian Gilbert foregrounds the forgotten voices of the prisoners themselves by threading eleven individual stories through the narrative. POW is a compelling window onto a crucial aspect of the Second World War.

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