One of the most common experiences in World War I was the experience of captivity. During four years of fighting an estimated eight million soldiers had been taken captive, or roughly one out of every eleven men in uniform. Over two million POWs had been captured by the Russian army, the great majority of whom came from Austria-Hungary. The enormous number of POWs and the need to house, cloth and feed them, led to the construction of the most extensive incarceration system in human history until then. It also constituted the most important test of the international legislation, pertaining to the treatment of Prisoners of War: the Hague Convention. The Hague regulations, it is argued, did provide an effective humanitarian umbrella, despite obvious flaws in their formulation and implementation. Archival material from Austria, Russia, Germany and the United States makes it possible to dissect the experience of captivity from above and below. POWs on the eastern front during World War I, it appears, had far better chances of survival than soldiers captured there during the Second World War. Contrary to what has been suggested by previous historians, POW camps in Russia during World War I cannot be considered in any way 'prototypes of Soviet Gulags or Nazi concentration camps'.
|Translated title of the contribution
|The Hague Convention and the Treatment of Prisoners of War in Russia During the First World War
|Number of pages
|היסטוריה: כתב-עת של החברה ההיסטורית הישראלית
|Published - 2004