Escape, release and return
in Prisoners of Britain
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German prisoners spent varying periods of time behind barbed wire in Britain. Despite the uncertainties which might face them outside, hundreds, and perhaps even thousands, of German prisoners took the issue into their own hands by trying to escape. Some special groups of prisoners, agreed by the British and German governments and also stipulated by wider international agreements including the Hague Convention, found themselves released and returning home as the war progressed. The end of internment meant new challenges in view of the consequences of the First World War for both Britain and Germany. Soldiers who returned home found a transformed society and economy suffering from the consequences of four years of total war. In virtually all cases a return to pre-1914 lives proved impossible for either returning German soldiers or released civilians.

Prisoners of Britain

German civilian and combatant internees during the First World War


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