25 Things You Should Know About Prisoners Of War

War is bad, we all know that. People fight and die and in the end the side that does the best job of killing and destroying wins. But there is more to war than just people dying on the front lines. There are hidden costs like broken economies and shattered lives. In war there is a winner but in some ways, there are no winners. Everybody loses. One of those hidden losses that is often not considered is the prisoners of war. Prisoners are an aspect of every conflict and although there exist laws that deal with the proper treatment of prisoners, they are often not followed. It is important for us to understand this aspect of war because it is an unspoken story. The struggle of men behind the front lines who got caught by the enemy and were then forced to live numerous, torture filled years in underground bunkers can be quite terrifying to hear about. But in the end it is necessary that we understand the full scale of the conflict from all angles. Auschwitz may not be representative of a comfortable time in human history but if we don’t know about it, we are sure to repeat the same mistakes. These are 25 things you should know about prisoners of war.

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25

Several American POWs were in Hiroshima when the bomb fell. 23 died.

Several American POWs were in Hiroshima when the bomb fell. 23 died.Source: thenation.com, Image: wikipedia
24

In 1966, Jeremiah Denton, a POW in Vietnam blinked the word "torture" in Morse code during a forced TV interview.

In 1966, Jeremiah Denton, a POW in Vietnam blinked the word "torture" in Morse code during a force TV interviewSource: cbsnews, Image: wikipedia
23

British prisoners of war were known for being quite cheeky during WWII. Often they would get their guards arrested due to filing fake reports against them.

British prisoners of war were known for being quite cheeky during WWII. Often they would get their guards arrested due to filing fake reports against themSource: ww2today.com, Image: wikipedia
22

The last WWII POW to be sent home was a Hungarian found living in a Russian psych ward in 2000.

The last WWII POW to be sent home was a Hungarian found living in a Russian psych ward in 2000Source: theguardian.com, Image: wikipedia
21

In 1944 the Japanese orchestrated one of the biggest prison breaks in history when hundreds of POWs tried to break out of an Australian camp.

In 1944 the Japanese orchestrated one of the biggest prison breaks in history when hundreds of POWs tried to break out of an Australian campSource: awm.gov.au, Image: wikipedia
20

The Japanese thought the Australians were weak because they treated prisoners too well.

The Japanese thought the Australians were weak because they treated prisoners too wellSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
19

A British POW once hid a radio so well that when he visited the camp over 60 years later the radio was still where he had left it.

A British POW once hid a radio so well that when he visited the camp over 60 years later the radio was still where he had left itSource: bbc, Image: wikipedia
18

During WWII, captured German officers were allowed to live in luxury in Britain. This was done to make them feel comfortable because unbeknownst to them, they were being listened to constantly. Numerous German secrets were discovered in this way.

During WWII, captured German officers were allowed to live in luxury in Britain. This was done to make them feel comfortable because unbeknownst to them, they were being listened to constantly. Numerous German secrets were discovered in this way.Source: bbc, Image: wikipedia
17

Horace Greasley, a British soldier, escaped and re-entered a POW camp more than 200 times because he fell in love with the daughter of the camp's director.

Horace Greasley, a British soldier, escaped and re-entered a POW camp more than 200 times because he fell in love with the daughter of the camp's directorSource: telegraph.co.uk, Image: wikipedia
16

German POWs in the United States had been so impressed during their incarceration that many of them returned to the US after the war.

German POWs in the United States had been so impressed during their incarceration that many of them returned to the US after the warSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
15

While Bill Nye the Science Guy's dad was a POW in Japan, he made sundials so he could figure out the latitude of the camp.

While Bill Nye the Science Guy's dad was a POW in Japan, he made sundials so he could figure out the latitude of the campSource: nndb.com, Image: wikipedia
14

POWs in Japan would hold their farts until they were made to bow to a statue of the emperor.

POWs in Japan would hold their farts until they were made to bow to a statue of the emperorSource: schmoop.com, Image: wikipedia
13

Robert Campbell was a British POW who was capture by the Germans during WWI but freed to go see his dying mother. He returned to the camp because he had given his word that he would return (he was afraid that if he didn't return then other soldiers would be denied such requests)

Robert Campbell was a British POW who was capture by the Germans during WWI but freed to go see his dying mother. He returned to the camp because he had given his word that he would returnSource: bbc, Image: wikipedia
12

During WWII, Judy was a canine POW who was sentenced to death for protecting her fellow inmates from beatings. She escaped and hid in the jungles of Sumatra until the end of the war when she was found. She received a medal for her actions.

During WWII, Judy was a canine POW who was sentenced to death for protecting her fellow inmates from beatings. She escaped and hid in the jungles of Sumatra until the end of the war when she was found. She received a medal for her actions.Source: dailymail.co.uk, Image: wikipedia
11

Hitler was so impressed by the Greek resistance that he ordered all Greek POWs to be released.

Hitler was so impressed by the Greek resistance that he ordered all Greek POWs to be releasedSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
10

Between 1970 and 1973 four Israeli POWs translated The Hobbit from English to Hebrew while they were in an Egyptian prison. It is still considered the best Hebrew translation of the book.

Between 1970 and 1973 four Israeli POWs translated The Hobbit from English to Hebrew while they were in an Egyptian prison. It is still considered the best Hebrew translation of the bookSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
9

British POWs that were held in Colditz Castle tried to tunnel out but instead ended up in a German officer's wine cellar. They drank all of his wine, urinated in the bottles, and put them back on the shelves.

British POWs that were held in Colditz Castle tried to tunnel out but instead ended up in a German officer's wine cellar. They drank all of his wine, urinated in the bottles, and put them back on the shelvesSource: pilcrowmagazine.com, Image: wikipedia
8

Franz Von Werra, a German POW was transferred to Canada to prevent him from continuously trying to escape. He still escaped though, and traveled all the way to South America in order to return to Europe. He was the only western held POW to return to combat operations.

Franz Von Werra, a German POW was transferred to Canada to prevent him from continuously trying to escape. He still escaped though, and traveled all the way to South America in order to return to Europe. He was the only western held POW to return to combat operationsSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
7

Damaged allied aircraft would purposely violate Swiss airspace so that they would be held in neutral Switzerland rather than become POWs in Germany.

Damaged allied aircraft would purposely violate Swiss airspace so that they would be held in neutral Switzerland rather than become POWs in GermanySource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
6

During WWII, German soldiers in the US were even sometimes allowed to leave their camps on the honor system. When some POWs, like Franz Von Werra, returned to Germany, the Nazis actually began to treat their POWs better.

During WWII, German soldiers in the US were even sometimes allowed to leave their camps on the honor system. When some POWs, like Franz Von Werra, returned to Germany, the Nazis actually began to treat their POWs betterSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
5

The Stockdale Paradox is named after James Stockdale, a POW in Japan. He was famous for noting that the optimists never made it out of the camps. It was the stoics and the realists that survived until the end of the war. (the paradox is that the optimists died but the realists survive).

The Stockdale Paradox is named after James Stockdale, a POW in Japan. He was famous for noting that the optimists never made it out of the camps. It was the stoics and the realists that survived until the end of the war.Source: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
4

John Thornton, a POW during the Korea War, rode an imaginary bike around his cell until the guards took it away saying it was "against regulations".

John Thornton, a POW during the Korea War, rode an imaginary bike around his cell until the guards took it away saying it was "against regulations".Source: cbsnews, Image: wikipedia
3

The US playing card company Bicycle had created special cards that revealed an escape route when they were soaked. These cards were given as Christmas presents to all POWs in Germany

The US playing card company Bicycle had created special cards that revealed an escape route when they were soaked. These cards were given as Christmas presents to all POWs in GermanySource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia
2

After the end of WWII, POWs held in Canada didn't want to leave because they had been treated so well.

After the end of WWII, POWs held in Canada didn't want to leave because they had been treated so wellSource: legionmagazine.com, Image: wikipedia
1

Upon liberation of the Dachau Concentration Camp, there were reports that some of the inmates turned on their captors and beat them to death with shovels.

Upon liberation of the Dachau Concentration Camp, there were reports that some of the inmates turned on their captors and beat them to death with shovelsSource: wikipedia, Image: wikipedia


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