The Differences In The Treatment Of Prisoners Of War By Britain, Germany And Japan

3929 words - 16 pages

The Differences in the Treatment of Prisoners of War by Britain, Germany and Japan
Works Cited Not Included

According international law a POW is defined as "persons captured by a belligerent while fighting in the military." International law includes "rules on the treatment of prisoners of war but extends protection only to combatants. This excludes civilians who engage in hostilities (by international law they are war criminals) and forces that do not observe conventional requirements for combatants." 1

In order to protect the rights of Prisoners of War a convention was
set up which laid down the conditions in which a prisoner could be
held. The experiences of the First World War meant the third
convention could be adapted to be more protective of prisoners of war,
in terms of food, accommodation, punishments and work, it stated that
"no prisoner of war could be forced to disclose to his captor any
information other than his identity (i.e., his name and rank, but not
his military unit, home town, or address of relatives). Every prisoner
of war was entitled to adequate food and medical care and had the
right to exchange correspondence and receive parcels." The amount of
food was to "be equivalent in quantity and quality to that of the
depot troops." In terms of work all POWs were to receive "pay either
according to the pay scale of their own country or to that of their
captor, whichever was less; they could not be required to work." This
work was not to expose them to "danger, and in no case could they be
required to perform work directly related to military operations." In
terms of disciplining POWs "Imprisonment is the most severe
disciplinary punishment, which may be inflicted on a prisoner of war.
The duration of any single punishment shall not exceed thirty days."
Accommodation for POWs was to be in "buildings or huts which afford
all possible safeguards as regards hygiene and security."2

By 1939 the Geneva Convention for protecting prisoners of war had
become well developed. However, there were many breaches of the 29
convention by both sides during the war. Furthermore, the lack of
involvement by the Soviet Union and Japan left the convention
weakened. The 1949 Geneva Convention would later resolve many of the
ambiguities in the earlier agreement and clarified terms in reflection
of the events of World War Two.

Prison accounts in Germany describe sometimes extreme hunger amounting
to starvation. The authorities in theory provided an adequate diet for
POWS. This was not at all balanced by modern standards. It was heavy
on fats and starch and devoid of fresh vegetables, but would have kept
prisoners alive and in reasonable health. Reports show that rations
were not always constant, worsening as the war progressed. S/Sgt.
Trefry A. Ross - 765th B. Sq. reported that,

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