Internment in Switzerland during the First World War

Internment in Switzerland during the First World War

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In contrast to the plethora of works focusing on the tragic loss of human lives during the First World War, little is known about the more hopeful realities of thousands of prisoners of war from Britain, France, Germany and Belgium who were sent to Switzerland from 1916. This book explores the everyday lives of these prisoners and their impact on Switzerland.

Internees were warmly welcomed by local people and given education, training and employment. Leading relatively free lives, they were able to engage in leisure activities and develop new relationships. However, they also contributed to the country's economy, helping to keep Swiss tourism alive at a time when businesses were struggling and alleviating Switzerland's labour shortage as Swiss men were called-up to defend their borders and preserve the country's neutrality.

Drawing on a wide range of sources from official records to magazines and postcards, Susan Barton provides an absorbing account of the social and cultural history of internment in Switzerland.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 240 pages
  • 156 x 234 x 17.78mm | 498.95g
  • Bloomsbury Academic
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 25 bw illus
  • 1350037737
  • 9781350037731

Table of contents

List of Illustrations
1. Introduction
2. Negotiation, Diplomacy and Agreements between Belligerents and Switzerland
3. The Prisoners' Arrival and Welcome
4. Conditions of Internment
5. Work, Education and Training
6. Sport: Summer, Indoor and Winter Sports
7. Entertainment, Relaxation and Intellectual Well-Being
8. Women, Family Life and Relatives' Visits
9. Going Home and Conclusion
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Review quote

Susan Barton provides an engaging and entertaining in-depth study of a program that saw soldiers, either sick or wounded, interned in Swiss holiday resorts. It is a Great War story unlike any other. This book illustrates just how important ideas such as fresh air, physical activity, and self-improvement were by the dawn of the twentieth century and offers an original and compelling illustration of just how deadly serious leisure could be * Eric G. E. Zuelow. Associate Professor of European History, University of New England, USA * This book fills one of the gaps in the history of internment during the First World War by focusing upon the experiences of injured soldiers from Belgium, France, Great Britain, and Germany who spent time in Switzerland as part of exchange programmes which aided their recuperation and allowed Switzerland to fulfil its role as a neutral state. Making exceptional use of ego sources alongside official records, Internment in Switzerland during the First World War tells the fascinating story of these prisoners. * Panikos Panayi, Professor of European History, De Montfort University, UK *
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About Susan Barton

Susan Barton is Honorary Visiting Research Fellow at De Montfort University, UK. She is the author of Working-Class Organisations and Popular Tourism, 1840-1970 (2005) and Healthy Living in the Alps: The Origins of Winter Tourism in Switzerland, 1860-1914 (2008) and co-editor of Travel and Tourism in Britain, 1700-1914 (2014).
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