World War II Civilian Prisoners of War

While we often hear about soldiers and sailors held as prisoners during World War II, it is less common to hear about civilians detained by the Germans and Japanese during the war. But thousands of civilians from various allied countries including the United States were in fact held prisoner, and sometimes endured conditions nearly as horrific as those encountered by captured military personnel.

Ancestry Library Edition (Ancestry LE) includes a record collection called World War II Prisoners of War, 1941-1946. This collection contains information on approximately 140,000 U.S. officers and enlisted personnel, as well as civilians from the United States and other allied countries who were held prisoner during World War II (specifically 7 Dec 1941-19 Nov 1946). Information in this database was originally compiled from various records and reports created by the International Committee of the Red Cross.

It is possible to search for civilian detainees of Germany or Japan by using these filters:

·         Keyword: civilian
·         Detaining Country: germany or japan

The type of information you will find in this record collection for an individual varies but can include:

·         Name of prisoner or internee
·         Race
·         State of residence
·         Report date
·         Latest report date
·         Grade or rank
·         Service branch
·         Arm or service
·         Area served
·         Detaining country
·         Camp (the numbers listed at the end of camp name are latitude and longitude)
·         Status
·         Report source

There is a list of reference databases that SLPL subscribes to here.

Many of these databases can be used from home by persons with a valid SLPL library card, although Ancestry LE must be used at Central Library or one of our branches.

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