A Catalyst for the Development of Human Rights: German Internment Practices in the First World War,1914-1929


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Virginia Tech


This thesis is a transnational study of the military actions and responses related to prisoners of war in World War I. Building on the works human rights scholars, I explore the how the collective rights afforded to prisoners of war under the 1906 Geneva Convention and 1907 Hague Convention served as a precursor to the concept of human rights that emerged after World War II. I argue that German military treated prisoners of war according to national interest, rather than international law. Specifically, I explore how the concepts of "military necessity" and "reciprocity" drove German internment practices, and how German internment practices escalated in violence during the last two years of the war. The violent practices committed by the Germans against prisoners of war produced an international demand to hold the perpetrators of wartime atrocities accountable for their actions in the postwar period.



Germany, prisoners of war, First World War, human rights, international law