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Prisoners of War

By: Mason Bumgarner

Sam Kunkleman

What are POWs?

A person, whether a combatant or a non-combatant, who is held in custody
during or immediately after an armed conflict.
In ancient times
Used as slave labor
Without slave labor, many Mediterranean societies would have collapsed
In modern times
Used to gather information about the enemy
Used to gain leverage on enemy


Foreign POWs
Spared and ransomed profitable prisoners

Killed the rest

Focused on personal gain
Greeks vs. Greeks
Didnt slaughter POWs
Fought for honor and territory

"Greek, Etruscan & Roman Sacrifices of War

Prisoners." Varias Anotaciones. Web. 3 Dec. 2015.

Ability to take POWs = military superiority
Criticized other countries for inhumane treatment of POWs
Freed of all slaves
Became more harsh over time
Often made to fight Gladiators

"Roman Gladiators." Green Dragon Society. Web. 3 Dec. 2015.

Ancient Treatment of POWs

Heads made into trophies
Tied to corpses
Buried alive
Trampled by elephants

King of England Richard I, (1157-1199), was himself a

Prisoner of war in 1192.

Lennon, Troy. "From Ancient Rome to Modern Warfare: The History of Prisoners of War."
The Daily Telegraph. News Corp Australia, 4 Aug. 2014. Web. 4 Nov. 2015.

Geneva Conventions
A set of treaties regarding humanitarian issues involving the treatment of
combatants as well as civilians during a time of war.
There are 4 to this day
One in 1949
Two in 1977
One in 2005

They provide protection to wounded and sick soldiers,

well as innocent citizens


"Geneva Convention." Geneva

Conventions. Web. 3 Dec.

World War I
Immediately followed the first Geneva Convention
Most countries followed the rules set by the treaty

No major war crimes committed

Most were entire units that surrendered
Over 8 million prisoners in WWI

World War II
Concentration Camps
Jewish Holocaust

Internment Camps
Japanese internment in the US

Allies treated prisoners far better than the Axis Powers

Axis powers treated non-westerners with extreme brutality
Did not return prisoners when war ended

Cowra Breakout (Aug. 5 1944)

Largest and bloodiest prison escape of WWII
1104 Japanese attempted escape

baseball bats

231 Japanese dead

wire stilettos

108 wounded

4 Australians dead
359 escaped
recaptured within 10 days

Stalag Luft III

Prison Escape

Stalag Luft III Escape

Tunneled under a hollowed out
wooden exercise horse

Wooden Horse. Wooden Horse Przekrj Tunelu. War History Online, 29 Nov. 2015. Web. 2
Dec. 2015.

Stalag Luft III Escape

Allied prisoners of war at Nazi Stalag Luft III camp

during WWII in the 1940s.

76 prisoners tried to escape

all but three were recaptured
Inspired by successful escape
of others

Lennon, Troy. "From Ancient Rome to Modern Warfare: The

History of Prisoners of War." The Daily Telegraph. News Corp
Australia, 4 Aug. 2014. Web. 4 Nov. 2015.

United States Armed Forces Code of Conduct

legal guide for the behavior of military personnel who are captured by hostile
Explained in 6 articles
Contains basic information on surviving in captivity, while resisting the exploiting of information to
the enemy

Encourages prisoners to attempt escape

Prohibits soldiers from surrendering free will
Prohibits soldiers from accepting parole
Requires prisoners to give certain information to captor

Korean War
Most prisoners treated fairly
A few cases of brutality
North to South Korean

Over ten thousand South Korean prisoners not returned during Armistice
Most presumed dead
Some believed to have stayed in North Korea

Vietnam War
sold across the country
name of MIA or POW soldiers

POW bracelet. RLB, INK. Wordpress.com, 11 Nov. 2013. Web. 2 Dec.


Citizens Taken Prisoner

Not only soldiers taken prisoner
Whole races taken captive for affiliation
Japanese Internment in the US after attack on
Pearl Harbor

Whole races taken captive because of

Jews in Germany during WWII

"The Difference Between the Japanese American

Internment Camps and The Concentration Camps in
Europe." HubPages. HubPages. Web. 2 Dec. 2015.

John McCain
Spent over 5 years in captivity in North Vietnam

Bomber shot down

Broke his leg
Stabbed twice by bayonet once found
Only treated when enemy was notified of fathers
Admiral status in the Navy
Reported that after the second year, the torture and
harsh treatment eased

"Profile: John McCain." BBC

News. Web. 2 Dec. 2015.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl

Taliban prisoner for 5 years
Suspected of being sympathetic to Taliban
Charged with desertion
Abandoned his post before being captured

Sgt. Bergdahl. CNN. Web. 2 Dec. 2015.

Guantanamo Bay & Abu Ghraib

Treatment of prisoners
sleep deprivation
jumping on back and legs
sexual assault
removal of clothes
use of phobias

State of exception
no legal or political rights

Effects After Release or Escape

Dont feel understood

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Physical Disabilities
Often depressed
Difficulty finding jobs

POW. The loneliness of returning home after trauma.

Psychology Today, 11 Nov. 2013. Web. 4 Jun. 2014.

Organization ran by the families of those
taken captive during wartime
Sole purpose is to organize the release of all
prisoners, and to account for and bring
home all missing soldiers

"I, Splotchy." A Symbol For The Iraq War

Aftermath. Web. 2 Dec. 2015.

Taking prisoners of war is still a common practice worldwide
Think about how your life would be different if you were captured and imprisoned

Works Cited
Baker, Aryn. Americas Only Prisoner of War Released by the Talilban. Time. Time Inc. 31 May, 2014. Web. 11 Nov. 2015.
Brown, Carol. "Bracelets." Bracelets. The Wall-USA, 2015. Web. 2 Dec. 2015.
"Code of Conduct In-Depth." Army Study Guide. QuinStreet, Inc, 2015. Web. 4 Nov. 2015.
Fletcher, Laurel Emile and Eric Stover. The Guantnamo Effect: Exposing the Consequences of U.S. Detention and Interrogation Practices. Berkeley: University
of California Press, 2009. Project MUSE. Web. 11 Nov. 2015.
Lennon, Troy. "From Ancient Rome to Modern Warfare: The History of Prisoners of War." The Daily Telegraph. News Corp Australia, 4 Aug. 2014. Web. 4 Nov.
Levie, Howard S. Prisoners of War in International Armed Conflict. Newport, R.I: Naval War.
Lokaneeta, Jinee. "Torture Debates in the post-9/11 United States: Law, Violence, and Governmentality." Theory & Event 13.1 (2010). Project MUSE. Web. 11 Nov.
2015. <https://muse.jhu.edu/>.
McCain, John. "John McCain, Prisoner of War: A First-Person Account."U.S. News. U.S. News & World Report, 28 Jan. 2008. Web. 11 Nov. 2015.
Stern, Gaius. "Rules of Greek and Roman POWs (SFSU Ancient War Lecture Series 2007)." Rules of Greek and Roman POWs (SFSU Ancient War Lecture Series
2007). Academia, Mar. 2007. Web. 4 Nov. 2015.
Winch, Guy. "The Unexpected Loneliness of Combat Vets and POWs with PTSD." Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, LLC, 4 June 2014. Web. 12 Nov. 2015.