Bronzed Bodies behind Barbed Wire: Masculinity and the Treatment of German Prisoners of War in the United States during World War II
- The Journal of Military History
- Society for Military History
- Volume 69, Number 2, April 2005
- pp. 475-504
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- Additional Information
During the Second World War, some 371,000 German prisoners of war (POWs) were interned in the United States. Historians studying this group have so far mainly focused on the country's adherence to the Geneva Convention and on its reeducation program for German POWs. This article argues that the prisoners' bodies are also a central category for understanding their experience of captivity. For many Americans, the German veteran soldiers seemed to embody central masculine virtues. This linked Americans to their own boys in uniform and led to heavy fraternization with the prisoners. Unable to stop this and especially worried about relationships between POWs and American women, the War Department did not follow the example of other powers and refused to parole the Germans into the custody of American employers.