This blog is a companion to the Database of Volunteers of Essendon and Flemington

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Prisoners of the First World War - ICRC Archives

Wahn, Westphalia, Germany. French prisoners-of-war at work (Karl Rud. Bremer & Co., Cologne, Germany, n°205)

On 21 August 1914, the Central Prisoners of War Agency was created to collect information on prisoners held by the warring parties. Countries holding prisoners of war sent lists of their prisoners’ names – albeit not consistently – to the agency in Geneva. In this way, the agency collected around 400,000 pages of names.

Volunteers in many countries took on the herculean task  of receiving, recording and forwarding reports of prisoners of war to enable relatives in far away countries to know what had become of their soldier sons and husbands.   

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) have digitised their records and made them available to be searched online by individual name.  Other resources on the website are postcards of prisoner of war camps, reports from inspectors on prisoner of war camps, and personal accounts of life in prisoner of war camps.  

Go to the ICRC website and search for information about a particular prisoner of war.  Take time to investigate how the website works to get the most out of it. 

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