Prisoners of Britain

German civilian and combatant internees during the First World War

By Panikos Panayi

Prisoners of Britain


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-9563-4
  • Pages: 360
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £20.99
  • Published Date: April 2014
  • BIC Category: HISTORY / Military / World War I, Prisoners Of War, Humanities / First World War, Modern History, History, c 1910 to c 1919, First World War, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Penology


During the First World War, hundreds of thousands of Germans faced incarceration in hundreds of camps on the British mainland. This is the first book on these German prisoners, available in paperback, almost a century after the conflict. The book covers the three different types of internees in Britain in the form of: civilians already present in the country in August 1914; civilians brought to Britain from all over the world; and combatants. Using a vast range of contemporary British and German sources, the volume traces life experiences through initial arrest and capture, to life behind barbed wire, to return to Germany or to the remnants of the ethnically cleansed German community in Britain. The book will prove essential reading for anyone interested in the history of prisoners of war or the First World War and will also appeal to scholars and students of twentieth-century Europe and the human consequences of war.


Panayi's work is more than a long-overdue study of a neglected topic ... By linking wartime internment with the wider history of the persecution and incarceration of minorities, Panayi restates the importance of the war.'
Fiona Reid, BBC History Magazine, 01/05/2013

'Thus, almost 100 years after the outbreak of the First World War, with a century's worth of scholarship produced about the conflict, covering every conceivable topic, Panayi has achieved what many would think impossible. He has provided something new; he has illuminated an under-researched First World War topic, and, thereby, he has contributed to the liberation of hundreds of thousands of captives by adding them to the historical record.'
Reviews in History, July 2013

This thoroughly researched, well-presented book is to be welcomed.

'With this book, Panikos Panayi has produced a valuable contribution to the scholarship growing up around a hitherto neglected corner of World War I. It is well written, clearly organized, and easy to read. Advanced students who pick up Panayi [...] will gain a well-rounded view of the treatment of prisoners and of how that fits into total war narratives of the twentieth century.'


1. Forgetting, remembering and the beginnings of a history
2. Arrest, transportation and capture
3. The camp system
4. Barbed wire disease and the grim realities of internment
5. Prison camp societies
6. Employment
7. Public opinion
8. Escape, release and return
9. The meaning of internment in Britain during the First World War


Panikos Panayi is Professor of European History at De Montfort University

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