What are Disarmed Enemy Forces?

Introduction Disarmed Enemy Forces (DEF, less commonly, Surrendered Enemy Forces) was a US designation for soldiers who surrendered to an adversary after hostilities ended, and for those POWs who had already surrendered and were held in camps in occupied German territory at the time. It was General Dwight D. Eisenhower’s designation of German prisoners in… Read More

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What is a Prisoner of War (POW)?

Introduction A prisoner of war (POW) is a non-combatant – whether a military member, an irregular military fighter, or a civilian – who is held captive by a belligerent power during or immediately after an armed conflict. The earliest recorded usage of the phrase “prisoner of war” dates back to 1610. Belligerents hold prisoners of… Read More

What is a War Crime?

Introduction A war crime is an act that constitutes a serious violation of the laws of war that gives rise to individual criminal responsibility. Examples of crimes include intentionally killing civilians or prisoners, torturing, destroying civilian property, taking hostages, performing a perfidy, raping, using child soldiers, pillaging, declaring that no quarter will be given, and… Read More

What is an Open City?

Introduction In war, an open city is a settlement which has announced it has abandoned all defensive efforts, generally in the event of the imminent capture of the city to avoid destruction. Once a city has declared itself an open city, the opposing military will be expected to peacefully occupy the city rather than destroy… Read More