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’Improperly and amorously consorting’: post-1945 relationships between British women and German prisoners of war held in the UK

Ingham, Mary. 2019. ’Improperly and amorously consorting’: post-1945 relationships between British women and German prisoners of war held in the UK. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis concerns transgressive gender relations in Britain in the aftermath of WW2. It examines illicit intimate relationships between British women and German prisoners of war held in the UK for several years immediately following WW2. In discussing the significance of these relationships relative to gender roles, sexual relations and war, this study seeks to re-address and add a nuanced aspect to the question of the effect of the war on British women. It is argued that in the context of the gendered dimension of the transition from war to peace, these controversial relationships highlight a neglected narrative of the conflicted early postwar years. By exploring the subjectivity of both sides, this thesis also attempts to show how these relationships demonstrate susceptibility among younger age cohorts to wartime influences on British women.

Oral history testimony from the subjects themselves forms the main primary source material. These narratives, comprising interviews and correspondence with 38 former prisoners of war and 61 women, were mostly collected in the mid- to late-1980s, when many of the subjects were in their early 60s. A wide range of other sources, both primary and secondary, including official documents, newspapers and autobiographical accounts, has been used to complement, inform and verify or compare with the primary source material. Secondary sources have been drawn on for contextual, comparative and reference purposes.

These initially prohibited relationships have been summarised in general discussion of fraternisation with UK-held enemy POWs, in terms of formal and informal policing of sexuality. This thesis argues for the relevance of exploring individual protagonists’ lived experience in greater depth, to clarify their place in the debate on post-conflict sexuality, and their significance in the context of war, gender relations and women’s history.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):

https://doi.org/10.25602/GOLD.00026281

Keywords:

German prisoners of war, British women, Fraternisation, Oral history, Post-conflict gender roles, Postwar gender relations, Post-WW2 migration, Second world war, Sexuality, Subjectivity

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

History

Date:

31 March 2019

Item ID:

26281

Date Deposited:

24 Apr 2019 11:16

Last Modified:

12 Jul 2019 11:51

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/26281

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