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This collection consists of various correspondence between POWs and their families, including 86 letters, 174 postcards, and about eight package slips during both world wars. Most of this correspondence was authored by the prisoners and sent to their families from camps in Europe, although it contains some correspondence from camps in Asia and Africa. The collection also contains correspondence from prisoners in concentration camps, such as Auschwitz, and from interned civilians in France and Germany. Because these letters were the main way to contact family members, most of the POW correspondence contain thoughts of homesickness and loneliness along with updates on an individual’s health and the various activities around the camps, including work and leisure. There is also correspondence from families to the prisoners which describe family life but also express sentiments for good health and a quick and safe return. There are also about 143 empty envelopes addressed to various places, including Copenhagen, Denmark and the Red Cross headquarters in Switzerland. Moreover, there are correspondence and envelopes from just before and after World War II, including envelopes commemorating French liberation and postcards to the United Nations from prisoners of the Spanish government begging for intervention in their imprisonment by Francisco Franco. In addition, there are various other items in the collection, including a gardening manual and nine photos from a Taiwanese prison camp, unused postcards, seven postage receipts, stamps from India, a work-receipt from Burma, and three anti-Semitic labels from Belgium, as well as various materials from previous owners of the collection. It should be noted that the items in the collection are written in many different languages, including English, German, French, Italian, Polish, and Russian, although some translations are included by previous owners of the collection.

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Collection Size

1 cubic foot

Publication Date

April 2019


World War I, World War II, Prisoner letters, POW's, Correspondence


European History | History | Military History | Public History | Social History

MS-238: Prisoner of War Letters from World Wars I and II