The Barbed-Wire College: Reeducating German POWs in the United States during World War II

By Ron Robin | Go to book overview

Introduction

DURING the course of World War II over 430,000 prisoners of war (POWs) embarked on an unforseen journey to the distant, alien land of their most powerful enemy. Upon surrendering to advancing Allied troops, many German, Italian, and Japanese prisoners were removed from the various war theaters and shipped to the continental United States. The largest group of these accidental tourists—some 380,000— were Germans. The sudden and massive presence of enemy captives on American soil led the Pentagon to breach both prevailing military etiquette as well as the Geneva Convention by establishing a reeducation program for these soldiers of the Third Reich. The program's ultimate objective was to provide ideological alternatives to National Socialism for the cross section of the German nation represented in the prison camps.

The enemy POW experience in the United States is by now a dim memory, conjured up occasionally to illustrate a host of other issues. In V Was For Victory, John Morton Blum's seminal study of American society in the war years, the POWs are invoked as an illustration of the irrationality of segregation, when a group of African-American soldiers are denied access to a Kansas diner, while German POWs enter the establishment freely. 1 A recent story in Reader's Digest describes the meeting between an American family and German prisoners as an illustration of the importance of forgiveness in Christianity. 2 Such typical vignettes of POWs in the United States make no mention of the ambitious indoctrination program for enemy captives; reeducation appears to have no part in the public memory of the home front.

To a certain degree, as Barry Katz suggests in his study of another of the war's academic enterprises, the fading of this footnote to the global conflict is understandable. The mobilized humanists who ran such scholarly wartime endeavors “did not engineer a secret weapon, nor can they be said, by any stretch of the imagination, to have made a decisive contribution to the war.” 3 When measured narrowly as just another sideshow of World War II, the reeducation of enemy POWs was of little lasting significance.

Such an assessment of this intellectual venture is however, misleading. To be sure, reeducation neither altered the course of the war nor affected

-3-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Barbed-Wire College: Reeducating German POWs in the United States during World War II
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 217

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.