Cultural Heritage and Prisoners of War: Creativity Behind Barbed Wire, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Cultural Heritage and Prisoners of War

Creativity Behind Barbed Wire, 1st Edition

Edited by Gilly Carr, Harold Mytum


316 pages | 49 B/W Illus.

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This book focuses on the numerous examples of creativity produced by POWs and civilian internees during their captivity, including: paintings, cartoons, craftwork, needlework, acting, musical compositions, magazine and newspaper articles, wood carving, and recycled Red Cross tins turned into plates, mugs and makeshift stoves, all which have previously received little attention. The authors of this volume show the wide potential of such items to inform us about the daily life and struggle for survival behind barbed wire. Previously dismissed as items which could only serve to illustrate POW memoirs and diaries, this book argues for a central role of all items of creativity in helping us to understand the true experience of life in captivity. The international authors draw upon a rich seam of material from their own case studies of POW and civilian internment camps across the world, to offer a range of interpretations of this diverse and extraordinary material.


‘This book addresses an important body of material culture – formerly regarded, at best, as ephemeral souvenirs; at worst, as mere kitsch – and rescues it as a source for comprehending the experience of those made captive in wartime.’Paul Cornish, Imperial War Museum, UK

‘Ingenuity, fortitude and resourcefulness emerge as the hallmarks of ‘creativity behind barbed wire…it remains a fascinating and analytically skillful volume and represents a significant contribution to prisoner-of-war studies.’ Grace Huxford, Journal of Contemporary History, 48(3)

Table of Contents

1.The Importance of Creativity Behind Barbed Wire: Setting a Research Agenda Gilly Carr and Harold Mytum Part I: Creativity and Narratives of Survival 2. Wonder Bar: Music and Theatre as Strategies for Survival in a Second World War POW Hospital Camp Sears Eldredge 3. ‘Spiritual Vitamins:’ Music in Huyton and Central Internment Camps May 1940–January 1941 Suzanne Snizek 4. Tins, Tubes and Tenacity: Inventive Medicine in Camps in the Far East Meg Parkes 5. Creativity and the Body: Civilian Internees in British Asia during the Second World War Felicia Yap 6. The Arts of Survival: Remaking the Inside Spaces of Japanese American Concentration Camps Jane Dusselier Part II: Narratives and Counter-Narratives of Internment 7. In the Distorted Mirror: Cartoons and Photography of Polish and British POWs in Wehrmacht Captivity Anna Wickiewicz 8. Souvenirs of Internment: Camp Newspapers as a Tangible Record of a Forgotten Experience Euan McKay 9. Deciphering Dynamic Networks from Static Images: First World War Photographs at Douglas Camp Harold Mytum 10. Beyond Collaboration and Resistance: ‘Accommodation’ at the Weihsien Internment Camp, China, 1943-1945 Jonathan Henshaw 11. ‘God Save the King!’ Creative Modes of Protest, Defiance and Identity in Channel Islander Internment Camps in Germany, 1942-1945 Gilly Carr 12. ‘Astounding and Encouraging’: High and Low Art Produced in Internment on the Isle of Man during the Second World War Rachel Dickson, Sarah MacDougall and Ulrike Smalley Part III: Creativity and Internment Identities 13. Kulturkrieg and Frontgeist from Behind the Wire: World War I Newspapers from Douglas Internment Camp Jennifer Kewley Draskau 14. Captivity in Print: The Form and Function of POW Camp Magazines Oliver Wilkinson 15. The Women’s Embroideries of Internment in the Far East 1942-1945 Bernice Archer and Alan Jeffreys 16. Madonnas and Prima Donnas: The Representation of Women in an Italian Prisoner of War Camp in South Africa Donato Somma 17. Necessity, the Mother of Invention: Ingenuity in German Prisoner of War Camps Peter Doyle 18. Camp Domesticity: Shifting Gender Boundaries in WWI Internment Camps Iris Rachamimov Notes Contributors Index

About the Editors

Gilly Carr is a Lecturer in Archaeology at the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Continuing Education, as well as a Fellow of St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge. Her publications focus on the material culture of internment, and on the legacy and heritage of the German occupation in the Channel Islands.

Harold Mytum’s research concentrates on the archaeology of western Britain and Ireland from the Iron Age to the present, and global historical archaeology (17th-20th centuries). He is exploring the interface between archaeology and cognate disciplines through one of his current research projects – the materiality of 20th-century internment.

About the Series

Routledge Studies in Heritage

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Military / General
HISTORY / Modern / 20th Century
HISTORY / Social History
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Archaeology