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

By Ron Robin | Go to book overview

CHAPTER TWO
The POW Camp and the
Total Institution

“America, ” whispered Grundmann. Gühler said nothing. He looked at the country that stretched before him into the distance, empty and monotonous and dotted with hills. The trees on the hills stood base beneath the heavy, leaden sky. … The morning wind blew cold across the sea, making them shiver. But they only stared out into the wide, flat country that seemed to them endless and full of mystery.

—Hans Werner Richter 1

THE BLEAK, spartan barracks, planted on the forbidding terrain of an alien country, had a curiously uplifting affect. After months of milling around in makeshift enclosures, deprived of adequate food, and ritually humiliated at every temporary camp along the way, these stark enhutments which made up the POW camp for Germany's military captives in the United States signaled a return to a familiar routine.

For Germans captured during the course of allied offensives in Italy and North Africa, surrender had taken a heavy emotional toll. The humiliation of defeat could be rationalized, of course, as a mismatch between an outnumbered and exhausted German army, on the one hand, and the fresh, well-stocked American fighting force. But a far more onerous psychological burden was the captives' loss of fundamental frames of reference. They were soldiers, a calling based upon a rigid etiquette which had governed their lives since induction. Captivity destroyed all remnants of their predictable routine and hurled the surrendering troops into a maelstrom of disorder, uncertainty, and disgrace.

The destruction of group identity and exclusive military frames of reference was hard to bear because rigorous initiation had erased previous pristine civilian concepts of self. Relentless training and harsh manifestations of authority were all part of the soldier's rites of passage. Military life reproduced the Total Institution, Erving Goffman's seminal definition for a tightly controlled, culturally sealed world in which an individual's previous experiences were forcibly erased. 2 Upon entering military life, the German recruit, like any other inductee into a modern military regimen, was exposed to constant attempts to destroy his civilian

-30-

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

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.