Did Allied POWs who spoke German get treated different that POWs who did not? I had a great uncle in WW1 who was a POW, but was sent to work in a shoe factory because he spoke German. We’re there similar cases for WW2?

Obviously WW1 and WW2 were different in many ways, especially regarding POWs. But I don’t know if there Germans treated German-speaking Allied POWs differently or not.
Keep up the great work!


It greatly depends on where you were as a POW as if you spoke and/or read German or another Slavic tongue you might be viewed as a threat to the camp by being able to undermine camp defences or you might be viewed as a double agent by the POWs themselves.

There was a Canadian soldier who was captured in Italy who spoke multiple dialects of German and was able to read and write in German and he was shuttled around various POW camps because as in his own words “nobody trusted me, not the krauts and not any of my fellow prisoners” he was viewed with suspicion that only got worse towards the end of the war especially as he was used to negotiate by the Germans with the allies to surrender the camp and spent hours in the German communications centre at the camp helping negotiate a handover to the allies.

I am sorry I don’t remember his name but he came from Ontario where there was a large Germanic population in the province.


Yes, there are a lot of German-descent Canadians in southern Ontario, especially west and south of Toronto/Hamilton. During WW1, one of the major towns with a big German population had to change its name from “Berlin” to “Kitchener”. I haven’t heard about this particular POW, but it doesn’t surprise me.