Brill’s Digital Library of World War I

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Brändström, Elsa

(445 words)

Author(s): Hinz, Uta
Brändström, Elsa (March 26, 1888, Saint Petersburg – March 4, 1948, Cambridge MA), Swedish philanthropist and nurse. The daughter of the Swedish ambassador in Saint Petersburg, Brändström continued to be known throughout Europe long after her death; in Germany she enjoyed nearly saintly status as the “Angel of Siberia.” This veneration was bestowed on her for the courage and commitment she had shown in caring for German and Austrian prisoners of war in Russia, and above all for her personal humanitarian work in Russian camps between 1915 and 1920. Living in Saint Petersburg at the o…

Prisoners of War

(3,043 words)

Author(s): Hinz, Uta
Prisoners of War Persons with the status of combatants who fell into enemy hands during the war. Only rough estimates of the total number of prisoners of war can be given for the World War. It is assumed that some 6.6 to 8 million soldiers were taken captive, which represents at least 10% of the approximately 60 million soldiers who were mobilized during the war. By late 1918, according to statistics from the interwar period, 328,000 soldiers had been captured by the British, 350,000 by the French,…

Internment

(1,392 words)

Author(s): Hinz, Uta
Internment During the World War, the notion of internment referred both to the sheltering of sick or invalid war prisoners in neutral states and to coercive measures against so-called enemy aliens. This conceptual ambiguity resulted from the fact that the large-scale repressive measures carried out against the civilian citizens of enemy countries were a relatively recent phenomenon. The reason for this was a fundamental redefinition of the “enemy” that went far beyond any military conception. As …

Forced Labor

(1,842 words)

Author(s): Hinz, Uta
Forced Labor It is entirely possible to see the development of state-organized forced labor in Germany between 1914 and 1918 as a kind of “trial run” for the Second World War (Ulrich Herbert). It is necessary first of all to distinguish between legitimate military forms of forced labor (in accordance with the laws of war as they stood at the time, for prisoners of war) and forced labor for civilians. The latter affected many civilians forced to work in Germany, and transported to Germany in breach of international law for that purpose. The use of the labor of captured ordinary soldiers…