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7. German Propaganda and Prisoners-of-War during World War I

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Chapter Summary

Studies on propaganda during and after the First World War rarely address prisoners of war (POWs). The Germans captured over 2.8 million Allied POWs and interned civilians from 29 countries. This threatened security and drained the German war economy. The Germans utilized these men as a labor supply and for propaganda purposes. During World War I, the German War Ministry used propaganda to negotiate with Allied soldiers to convince them to surrender or, after becoming prisoners, to fight in foreign legions to gain their national independence; with Entente governments to force these states to improve prison camp conditions for German POWs or alter military strategies; and with the German people to continue their support for the war effort against overwhelming odds. German propaganda was controversial, subtle, and complicated, and sought to achieve both wartime and post-war goals.

Keywords: First World War; German propaganda; prisioners of war (POWs)



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