After the war ended in 1918, most Danish prisoners of war were sent back by ship via Copenhagen, where they were greeted as heroes. They were well looked after, and taken on various excursions such as a visit to the castle of Frederiksborg Slot in Hillerød (north of Copenhagen) where this picture was taken by Holger Damgaard, photographer for the daily newspaper Politiken.
As a result of the Second Schleswig War (1864) Denmark had been forced to surrender the Duchies of Schleswig and Holstein, which meant large numbers of predominantly Danish-minded people living in northern Schleswig (now Sønderjylland) were forced to live under German rule.
At the outbreak of war in 1914, all men between the ages of 18 and 44 and fit for military service were called for duty irrespective of their national sentiment. In reality this meant many Danish men were forced into the German army to fight for a country they didn’t support. Of the 30,000 Danish-minded men from north Schleswig who were forced to fight for Germany around 5,000 lost their lives. Even more were taken prisoner.
- Article by:
- Heather Jones
- Life as a soldier
What was the reality for prisoners of war in World War One? Dr Heather Jones looks beyond the propaganda to consider the facts around prisoner mistreatment, labour and death rates across Europe.