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From nomos to Hegung: war captivity and international order

Jacques, Johanna (2013) From nomos to Hegung: war captivity and international order. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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In World War II, millions of men found themselves at one time or another in war captivity. Their daily lives in captivity have been documented in memoirs and historical studies, but despite the abundance of detail, the experience of war captivity as an experience of exclusion remains in-theorised. Western POWs held by Germany in particular were excluded not only from further involvement in direct combat, but also from the states of exception associated with the foreign slave labour and the racial persecutions particular to Germany at the time. While all around them people were killed for a number of reasons, their lives were protected – and in the case of Jewish soldiers extraordinarily so – for no other reason than to keep them alive. The first part of the thesis uses Carl Schmitt’s work on sovereignty and nomos to situate the POW camp within the framework of an international order where war is bracketed – gehegt. This order reveals itself as an order of war, in which law takes the role of the sovereign in guaranteeing the order. The second part then turns to the exception to this order, the POW camp, analysing its juridicopolitical situation on the example of Jewish POWs from Western forces held by Germany in the Second World War. The third part of the thesis looks at the wartime experiences of Emmanuel Levinas, who spent five years as a POW in Germany. The struggle Levinas’s work exhibits with the experience of captivity exemplifies this experience’s ultimate meaninglessness, and raises questions about the possibility of subjectivity without engagement.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2013 Johanna Jacques
Library of Congress subject classification: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D731 World War II
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
K Law > K Law (General)
Sets: Departments > Law
Supervisor: Pottage, Alain and Murphy, Tim

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