11 Replies Latest reply on Apr 2, 2021 2:22 AM by Elena Ion

    Seeking information about WWII prisoners of war

    Elena Ion Wayfarer

      Hello!  I am searching for information about prisoners of war in WWII. I am writing my master's degree based on this subject and I need all the information I could get, if you could please help me.


        • Re: Seeking information about WWII prisoners of war
          Sabine Gorgas Adventurer

          Hello Elena,

          it would help when you would give a little more information or information about the focus of your work. Do you mean  Americans and their allies being POW's or do you mean Germans and their allies being POW's? Do you write about POW's in general or are you looking for  individual stories? Do you write about the camps they had here in the US or do you want to write about the camps in Europe and Russia? Both of my grandfathers were POW's. One spent a year in a British Camp in Belgium (came back in 1946) and the other one spent 4 years in a Russian Camp and returned in 1949. Although both being POW camps, they were in the the end and outcome critically different. While the POW's from American or British camp returned mostly alive, prisoners in the Russian camps starved to death, died from exhaustion and diseases. And the camps the Germans had all over Europe during WWII were another story too.


          There are several books available about all kinds of camps I could name. Many POW's (Germans, Italians, Japanes etc.) are buried on the National Cemeteries all over the US. Stories and names can be found, for example, here



          Will be glad to help.


            • Re: Seeking information about WWII prisoners of war
              Elena Ion Wayfarer

              Hello Sabine,

              First of all, I want to thank you for your information. It is helpful. Especially your grandfathers' stories. I certainly want to know more about that.

              Secondly, I am reffering to both Americans and their allies being POW's and Germans and their allies being POW's. I am also analyzing the differences between Allied POW camps and Axis POW camps. That is why I could't narrow my description. One chapter in my master's degree will be about POWs in general and IHL and another chapter will be about specific camps (for example german/american/soviet/italian camps) and how they treated their prisoners. It would be great if you could give me more information from your grandfathers' stories, because we (Romanians) also had prisoners in those camps.

              I am grateful for your help.


            • Re: Seeking information about WWII prisoners of war
              Lisa Sharik Adventurer

              Ms. Ion:

              Your question is so broad that respondents are unlikely to be able to assist. If you could narrow it down.

              US POW's or foreign prisoners held on US soil?

              If US POW's then those held by Germans? or Japanese? or other Axis powers?

              what specifically about POW's ? their treatment? access to food? numbers?


              If you could give more specific information then those of us who post are more likely to be able to assist and point you in the right direction.




              Lisa Sharik

              Deputy Director

              Texas Military Forces Museum

              • Re: Seeking information about WWII prisoners of war
                Karen Caverly Molineaux Newbie

                I am doing my Master's Thesis on WWII Submarine warfare in the Pacific...specifically, the USS Tang. The Tang was the only sub to have sank in which there were 9 survivors. All were picked up in the Formosa Strait off the coast of China by the Japanese, and were subsequently taken POW.


                Three books written on the Tang that would be very helpful are:


                "Clear the Bridge!: The War Patrols of the USS Tang", by RAdm. Richard H. O'Kane, ISBN: 9780891415732


                "Escape from the Deep: A True Story of Courage and Survival During Wold War II", by Alex Kershaw, ISBN: 9780306817908


                "The War Below: The Story of Three Submarines that Battled Japan", by James Scott, ISBN: 9781439176849


                There is also an oral history account from one of the USS Tang's surviving crew members online, done by Thomas Sayler from Concordia University, St. Paul. It is located at: https://digitalcommons.csp.edu/oral-history_ww2/15/


                There are a bunch of secondary sources, but these are some of the primary sources I recommend. As of note, the oral history account is from Floyd Caverly, my father's first cousin - I miss him dearly.


                Hope this helps! Good luck with your thesis, and let me know if I can be of other help.


                P.S. I also live about 25 miles from Tulelake Segregation Center, where they sent Japanese Americans...right up the road from that is Camp Tulelake, a German POW camp in Tulelake, CA. Not sure if that's a direction you want to go in, but I would be able to find significant primary sources on that, too!

                • Re: Seeking information about WWII prisoners of war
                  Thomas Richardson Tracker

                  Dear Ms. Ion,


                  Thank you for posting your request on History Hub!


                  We searched the National Archives Catalog and located 50 series in the: Records of the Office of the Provost Marshal General (Record Group 389) that records of POWs and prisoners-of war during the 1940s. Please review each series and then contact the National Archives at College Park - Textual Reference (RDT2) at archives2reference@nara.gov.


                  We also searched the Access to Archival Databases (AAD) and located the data file Records of World War II Prisoners of War, created, 1942 - 1947 in Record Group 389 that may include any American prisoners of war you are interested in. In addition, we located the date file World War II Prisoners of the Japanese in the Records of the American Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor (Collection ADBC). For more information about these data files, please contact the National Archives at College Park - Electronic Records (RDE) at cer@nara.gov.


                  Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and pursuant to guidance received from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), NARA has adjusted its normal operations to balance the need of completing its mission-critical work while also adhering to the recommended social distancing for the safety of NARA staff. As a result of this re-prioritization of activities, you may experience a delay in receiving an initial acknowledgement as well as a substantive response to your reference request from RDT2 and RDE. We apologize for this inconvenience and appreciate your understanding and patience.


                  The personnel records of World War II German prisoners of war were returned to Germany.  For access to these records, please write to the Bundesarchiv - Abteilung PA, Eichborndamm 179, 13403 Berlin, Germany. The email address is poststelle-pa@bundesarchiv.de.


                  Personnel records of Italian prisoners of war have been returned to Italy.  For further information please write to the Ministero della Difesa-Esercito, Direzione Generale dei Servize di Commissariato e Amministrativi, Via XX Settembre No. 11, Rome, Italy or contact them via their website at https://www.difesa.it/Pagine/default.aspx.


                  Prisoner of war personnel files for former Japanese prisoners of war were returned to Japan after World War II.  For further information we suggest that you contact the Military History Archives, National Institute for Defense Studies, 5-1 Ichigayahonmuracho, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo 162-8808 Japan.  The web site is https://www.nids.mod.go.jp/english/index.html.


                  We hope this is helpful. Best of luck with your research!

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