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A 'Most Astonishing' Circumstance: The Survival of Jewish POWs in German War Captivity During the Second World War

Jacques, Johanna (2021) 'A 'Most Astonishing' Circumstance: The Survival of Jewish POWs in German War Captivity During the Second World War.', Social & legal studies ., 30 (3). pp. 362-383.


During the Second World War, more than 60,000 Jewish members of the American, British and French armed forces became prisoners of war in Germany. Against all expectations, these prisoners were treated in accordance with the 1929 Geneva Convention, and the majority made it home alive. This article seeks to explain this most astonishing circumstance. It begins by collating the references to the experiences of Western Jewish POWs from the historical literature to provide a hitherto-unseen overview of their treatment in captivity. It then asks what made their protection from persecution possible. To this end, it explores Germany’s wider motivations for its selective application of the Geneva Convention and highlights the role that military identity played in making its application seem necessary for all POWs from the Western front, including Jewish POWs.

Item Type:Article
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Publisher statement:This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 License ( which permits non-commercial use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:11 August 2020
Date of first online publication:24 August 2020
Date first made open access:01 September 2020

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