Date of Award

Spring 1991

Document Type

Thesis

Department

History

First Advisor

Robert Swartout

Second Advisor

Rev. Jeremiah Sullivan

Third Advisor

Henry Burgess

Abstract

On 21 October 1943, a headline in the weekly Minidoka County News announced the following: "October 27 Set for the Official Opening of Prisoner Camp: Public Invited to Flag Raising Event and to Inspect Camp Near Rupert." 1 During World War II, this announcement publicized the government's plans to keep foreign prisoners of war near Rupert, Idaho. The local community, made up predominantly of farmers, anxiously anticipated the arrival of these prisoners. The majority of Americans were united in their support for the war and, as was the case near Rupert, in their need for labor. When Camp Rupert prisoners went to work on nearby farms, they met with American citizens, and the interaction caused many negative stereotypes to fade away. This positive interaction occurred because American workers and camp officials treated the prisoners fairly and humanely, removing the prisoners' initial apprehensions and making them less skeptical of all U. S. citizens. The prison, officially known as Camp Rupert, held Italian, Russian, and German prisoners of war—the Russians were those soldiers captured by the Germans and forced into the German army. The treatment of these prisoners was governed by the guidelines of the Geneva Convention of 1929, which called for American military and civilian personnel to humanely care for the captured troops. In order to appreciate the extent of this care, one must be aware of the history of POWs as an institution. The history given in this paper will be a brief account of war and its prisoners, beginning with the Romans, touching on the Late Middle Ages, the American Civil War, World War I, and focusing on World War II.

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