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Prisoners of war and civilian internees captured by British and Dominion forces from the German colonies during the First World War

Murphy, Mahon (2014) Prisoners of war and civilian internees captured by British and Dominion forces from the German colonies during the First World War. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis discusses the previously unstudied treatment of German civilian internees and prisoners of war taken from the German colonies by British and Dominion authorities during the First World War. Through this study the links between the First World War in the extra-European theatre and the conflict in Europe will be examined. Five key issues are posited for investigation. These are: the centralised internment policy of the British Empire, the effect of the takeover of German colonies on the cultural identity of the British dominions, the effect wartime captivity had on German settlers, what extra-European internment tells us about twentieth century mobility and warfare, and the integration of the extra-European theatre of the war into the overall Global War narrative. The establishment of a global camp system run from the British imperial metropole involved the coordination of the military, the Admiralty, Dominion governments, and the Colonial and Foreign Offices. The general principles of international law were followed but often overridden through the use of reprisals, and the notion of trying Germans for ‘war crimes’ had an impact far into the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. The First World War and the internment of German civilians and military prisoners in the extra-European theatre undermined the notion of a common European civilising mission in the colonial world. It upset the established colonial racial hierarchies, and through ‘enemy alien' legislation helped establish European hierarchies of race as defined by nationality, disrupting the pre-war world order of cultural globalisation. Through the analysis of German colonial settlers and soldiers in British internment, this thesis demonstrates that the First World War was not just a conflict between the European Great powers but that it also involved a world-wide remaking of ideas, institutions and geopolitics.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2014 Mahon Murphy
Library of Congress subject classification: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Sets: Departments > International History
Supervisor: Jones, Heather and Stevenson, David

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