POW 'Holiday Camps' in the Third Reich

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    Among the vast network of POW camps established in Germany during the Second World War were two quite extraordinary camps known as holiday camps, Ferienlager. One of them was for Other Ranks and was located in Genshagen just outside Berlin; the other, for officers, was in Steinburg in Bavaria. This article investigates the origins and development of these camps, which offered their prisoners short-term respite from the rigours of life in work detachments or from the tedium of POW life. It uses the history of these camps, established and run solely for British and Commonwealth POWs, to consider the place of Britain in German strategic thinking during the war. Beyond that, it relates the history of the camps to the changing dynamics of the Third Reich and its 'polycratic' power structures, in particular the competition among the security agencies, the Wehrmacht, and the German Foreign Office for influence in POW matters. Finally, the article seeks to assess the role of the camps in German efforts to win British POWs for the anti-Bolshevik cause, and it offers explanations for the failure to achieve that goal.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)480-503
    Number of pages24
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2014


    • POW camps
    • prisoners of war
    • Second World War
    • Third Reich


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