Interned or imprisoned?: the successes and failures of international law in the treatment of American internees in Switzerland, 1943-45 Public Deposited

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  • March 21, 2019
  • Mears, Dwight S.
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of History
  • During World War II, over 100,000 soldiers of various nationalities sought refuge in neutral Switzerland, including over 1,500 American airmen from damaged U.S. bombers. As a result of the U.S. violations of Swiss neutrality and other external factors, the Swiss government was unwilling to apply the 1929 Geneva Convention prisoner of war protections to the U.S. airmen when they were punished for attempting escape. The politicization of internment procedures resulted in a diplomatic stalemate in which the ambivalence of Swiss officials prolonged mistreatment of U.S. airmen in violation of emerging customary international law. I believe that answering the question of how international law functioned in the scenario of Swiss internment will demonstrate both the cultural importance of Swiss adherence to international law, as well as the process by which states frequently interpret ambiguous international law to their advantage.
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  • Lee, Wayne
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  • University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
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