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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

German POW equipment


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It's not uncommon to see images of German POW's, where they have retained two items, their helmet and their gasmask/container, would it be fair to say that the image means that they are close to the battle zone (recently captured) or were they allowed to hold onto those items for work that could be near to 'the front'?



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It was illegal under international law to use POWs for work "near to the front".* By and large the Allies obeyed this.

* One limited exception was helping wounded back but only if it was a one way journey for the POW

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Article 18 of the Geneva Convention relative to the Treatment of POW, which came into force in 1950, states that:

All effects and articles of personal use, except arms, horses, military equipment and military documents shall remain in the possession of prisoners of war, likewise their metal helmets and gas masks and like articles issued for personal protection. Effects and articles used for their clothing or feeding shall likewise remain in their possession, even if such effects and articles belong to their regulation military equipment.

Was there a similar rule/convention in place >30 years earlier?

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Yes. However it didn't mention steel helmets of gas masks (not invented when treaty/convention signed) but personal portable property was to be respected (often more honoured in the breach rather than the observance) and importantly the captors had a legal responsibility for the prisoners' safety and protection. This would imply that such items as necessary to protect him from gas and fragments would have to be left with him (or provided) so long as he remained in the battle zone. [bleedin 'ealth and safety gone mad :thumbsup: ]

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