The history of Jewish prisoners of war (POWs) from western armies in German captivity during the Second World War is strikingly unexpected and little known. While their civilian and Soviet counterparts were starved, worked to death, and murdered, Jewish POWs were, in most cases, not discriminated against and were treated according to the 1929 Geneva Convention.
In this seminar, Yorai Linenberg explores the lives of American and British Jewish POWs throughout their time in Nazi captivity, from the moment of capture – facing the decision whether to declare themselves as Jews – to their personal experiences of daily life in the POW camps; the interaction they had with their captors; the various ways they displayed their Jewish identity through religious and cultural activities and funerals; and their interaction with civilian Jews who faced starvation and murder.
Yorai Linenberg is an Honorary Research Fellow at the Birkbeck Institute for the Study of Antisemitism. His book, Jewish Soldiers in Nazi Captivity (Oxford University Press, 2023), is based on his PhD dissertation and deals with the experience of American and British Jewish POWs in German captivity during the Second World War.