‘Prisoners of the peace': German prisoners-of-war in rural France 1944-48

Hanna Diamond

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Historians have paid little attention to the over half a million German prisoners-of-war who were deployed for the purposes of reconstruction in France between 1944 and 1948. In an effort to contain the rural labour crisis over half were allocated to agriculture. Despite an initially hostile reception by the French, this article argues that moving the prisoners into farms marked the beginning of a strikingly rapid process of acceptance by these local communities. Farmers led the way to broader acceptance by refusing to enforce the rules and granting prisoners more freedom than the authorities intended. It shows how, despite opposition from some quarters, in a process of growing normalization, rural populations gradually came to identify the Germans less as prisoners and more as foreign workers living amongst them.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)442-463
Number of pages22
JournalEuropean History Quarterly
Volume43
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2013

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