Internment and International Activism: The Search for More Humane Alternatives
This chapter offers the first in-depth analysis of international activism in relation to the internment question. It begins by exploring the precedent set by the British campaigner Emily Hobhouse during the Boer war of 1899–1902. It then goes on to examine how bodies like the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva, the Quaker-led Friends Emergency Committee in London and its Berlin-based counterpart, the Auskunfts- und Hilfsstelle für Deutsche im Ausland und Ausländer in Deutschland, sought to mitigate the consequences of internment for individuals and families, while also explaining why their quest to end internment of civilians as prisoners of war by means of international pressure failed. Further sections look at neutral internment in Switzerland and the Netherlands as an additional, albeit limited, attempt to humanise wartime captivity, and at the ‘medicalisation’ of the internment phenomenon, particularly through the development of the internationally recognised but scientifically contested term ‘barbed-wire disease’.