Created By: TomWalpertac2 on February 17, 2012 Last Edited By: TomWalpertac2 on February 26, 2012
Troped

POW Camp

There\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s a war going on but somebody got captured by the enemy. It\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\'s generally a bad place to be.

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Index: Military and Warfare Tropes

You REALLY don't want to spend time at this camp.

During major wars, armies will often capture numerous enemy soldiers. These enemies must be kept somewhere, preferably some place where they can not return to their fellows. This usually results in a Prisoner of War Camp. As soldiers on the battlefield, these two groups are enemies. For whatever reason, a group of soldiers has been captured by the very guys they were trying to kill just the day before. The camp guards will not like the prisoners because those same prisoners may have been responsible for the death and destruction visited upon their homeland. Typically, the guards will not be nice about the way they treat their prisoners.

Since governments don't like having large numbers of 'potential enemies' running around loose in their back yard, something must be done about them. The answer to this problem is an internment camp. It's basically a PoW Camp for civilians. Since they are almost always run by the military, we can consider them to be closely related, and therefore included. The concentration camp is the evil twin to the internment camp. Its main objective is to contain political prisoners for either extermination or to keep them handily available for slave labor. While detainees at an internment camp are generally not mistreated, detainees at a concentration camp can expect nothing but constant pain and hunger or instant death at any moment. Any way you look at it, you don't want to be a resident of any of these. Unless you're a guard.

As a Sub-Trope of Prison, most Prison Tropes will apply. This camp can readily turn into a Hell Hole Prison. If it is sufficiently escape-resistant, it can become The Alcatraz. You will always see plenty of heavily armed guards, unfriendly guard dogs, guard towers with machine guns and spotlights. Expect miles of barbed wire, often in tangled loops. Sometimes, it can be connected to high voltage for added deterrent to escape attempts. Frequently, you will see someone working on a Great Escape. Many Military and Warfare Tropes will be seen as well.

The POW Camp is a major fixture of many war films as well as many TV Series. In many FPS games, the PC must rescue a fellow soldier from a POW Camp.

'''No Real Life Examples Please


Works Featuring the POW Camp:


Film
  • The Bridge on the River Kwai: Captured British soldiers are forced to build a railroad bridge by a Japanese officer.
  • The Great Escape Dramatized account of a major breakout by mostly British prisoners from a German POW Camp.
  • In The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Blondie and Tuco end up in a Union POW camp after their scavenging of Confederate uniforms backfires on them. Angel Eyes is running the show. It's nasty.
  • Hart's War: Immediately after the start of the Battle Of The Bulge, Lt. Hart is sent to a camp where there is an escape attempt brewing. One prisoner murders another to keep him silent and Hart must conduct the courts marshal.
  • Stalag17 After a failed escape attempt, American prisoners suspect a traitor tipped off the Germans.
  • Escape to Victory (Victory in North America). Most of the movie takes place in a World War II Nazi POW camp, where a group of Allied prisoners train to play in a soccer game vs. a German team.

Literature
  • Andersonville is a novel by MacKinlay Kantor concerning the Andersonville prison.
  • The beta plot of Tom Clancy's Without Remorse is about a group of American prisoners in a secret POW camp in North Vietnam during The Vietnam War, and an attempt to rescue them. The prisoners are kept in isolation from each other, however they are not tortured, because the GRU (Soviet military intelligence) officer there believes that the best way to get information from them is to get the prisoners to let down their guard by treating the prisoners well and acting friendly.
  • Red Cap is a Historical Fiction Children's Literature novel by G. Clifton Wisler. The main character is a drummer boy that ends up in the Andersonville prison cap.

Live Action TV
  • The 1996 TV Movie Andersonville, directed by John Frankenheimer, tells the story of the notorious Confederate prison camp.
  • British series Colditz is about the German PoW camp of the same name. It is partly based on the film The Colditz Story which itself was based on a book by that name.
  • Hogan's Heroes Comic misadventures of prisoners trying to disrupt the German war effort from right under their noses.

Single Episodes of Live Action TV
  • The Ripping Yarns episode, "Escape from Stalag Luft 112B" was set in a POW camp.

Western Animation
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: In the "Puppet Master" episode, Hama tells the gang how she, and the other water benders from the Southern Water Tribe, were rounded up and taken prisoner by the Fire Nation. There, they were kept in cages, with their hands shackled, so they couldn't bend. The warden even pumped in dry air as an added measure. And while they were given food and water, it only enough to keep them alive, but just barely.

Video Games
  • In Ace Combat 5: The Unsung War, one of the missions revolves around storming an enemy POW camp to free your soldiers in the middle of a snowstorm.
  • More than one game in the Call of Duty franchise have featured POW camps.
  • The final level of I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream is set in a concentration camp.
  • The aptly named cult classic 6th generation game Prisoner Of War was set in a POW camp, and cast the player as an American airman with the objective of escaping.


Works featuring the Concentration / Internment Camp:


  • Band of Brothers: Easy Company found and liberated a concentration camp in one episode.
  • Empire of the Sun tells the story of Jamie "Jim" Graham, a young boy who goes from living in a wealthy British family in Shanghai, to becoming a prisoner in the Lunghua Civilian Assembly Center, a Japanese run internment camp in occupied China, during World War II.
  • Escape from Sobibor is a 1987 prison escape/war/Holocaust movie set in 1943, in the Sobibor extermination camp, where inmates who have been selectively spared for their skills in manufacturing material goods plot their escape from the camp, in part utilizing the skills they possess.
  • The end of The Hiding Place was set in a concentration camp.
  • Tenko is a BBC TV Series about an internment camp for women in the far east during the second world war.

Community Feedback Replies: 44
  • February 17, 2012
    randomsurfer
  • February 18, 2012
    TomWalpertac2
    I think we can include a category for single episode series examples.
  • February 18, 2012
    Koveras
    Not sure if this counts:

    • In Ace Combat 5 The Unsung War, one of the missions revolves around storming an enemy POW camp to free your soldiers in the middle of a snowstorm.
  • February 18, 2012
    Catbert
    We have a Great Escape trope, as well as Prison, Hell Hole Prison and The Alcatraz.

  • February 18, 2012
    Catbert
    I would recommend that you do this a setting trope and subtrope of Prison.
  • February 18, 2012
    Koveras
    Yeah, this is not an index (which is basically a list of tropes united by a theme) but a setting trope. POW Camp?
  • February 18, 2012
    Catbert
    An index can be a list of works united by a theme, but I think something so specific works better as a trope.
  • February 18, 2012
    TomWalpertac2
    ^, ^^, ^^^ Good ideas, guy. Thanks.

    By the way, How do I get the stupid caption to work?
  • February 18, 2012
    CrypticMirror
    Tenko is a BBC tv series about an internment camp for women in the far east during the second world war.
  • February 18, 2012
    JonnyB
    The end of The Hiding Place was set in a concentration camp.
  • February 18, 2012
    Catbert
    Right aligned captions don't work in YKTTW. Don't worry, it will be just fine wants you you launch it.
  • February 18, 2012
    Catbert
    • The beta plot of Tom Clancy's Without Remorse is about a group of American prisoners in a secret POW camp in North Vietnam during The Vietnam War, and an attempt to rescue them. The prisoners are kept in isolation from each other, however they are not tortured, because the GRU (Soviet military intelligence) officer there believes that the best way to get information is to and get the prisoners to let down their guard by treat the prisoners well and act friendly.
  • February 18, 2012
    TomWalpertac2
    @ Johnny B: concentration camp =/= POW camp.
  • February 18, 2012
    CrypticMirror
    I think there is sufficient overlap between concentration and POW camps for this trope's purposes. The Nazis did put some soldiers into concentration camps, and the Japanese ran civilian internment camps (which were concentration camps in all but name, just with a slower method of death) in exactly the same manner as POW camps. If your guards are soldiers, then it probably counts. No one sane puts soldiers in charge of prisoners unless they are treating them as PO Ws.
  • February 18, 2012
    TomWalpertac2
    Point.
  • February 18, 2012
    Catbert
    Nazi death/concentration camps were very different in purpose from the POW camps. I think they should be a separate trope unless the story is specifically about military POW's being kept in a concentration camp.

  • February 18, 2012
    TomWalpertac2
    We need to make up our minds, here, folks.
  • February 18, 2012
    CrypticMirror
    Catbert, they were often ran the same way, and because of the Us versus Them and the overhanging cloud of war, had much the same stories, themes, and tropes. 99% of the storylines in Tenko, for example, could be replayed in a male POW camp with only name changes and gender specific pronouns altered and nothing else. Splitting them makes no sense, and I guarantee if you do then it'll just accumulate those examples any way due to the similarities.
  • February 19, 2012
    Koveras
    Yeah, Concentration Camp should be a separate trope.
  • February 19, 2012
    CrypticMirror
    need to separate out internment camps from death camps if you are splitting off concentration camps. Those are different things too. Of course they all play the same way in fiction, so maybe just because they are different in real life doesn't mean they are different tropes in fiction. If this is to be a useful notes page on POW/Internment/Death camps then splitting is appropriate, if it is about how fiction plays them then they are all one trope.
  • February 19, 2012
    TomWalpertac2
    Strictly fictional portrayals here, folks.
  • February 19, 2012
    Catbert
    Tom, make sure you could expand on the Zero Context Examples before launch.
  • February 20, 2012
    Unknown Troper
    The One That Got Away (film) about the only German to escape from a British Po W camp in WW 2 and make it back to Germany.

    Colditz (long running TV series) about the German Po W camp of the same name.

  • February 20, 2012
    Bisected8
    • The aptly named cult classic 6th generation game Prisoner Of War was set in a POW camp, and cast the player as an American airman with the objective of escaping.
    • The final level of I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream is set in a concentration camp.
  • February 20, 2012
    Catbert
    The Without Remorse example really should be under POW Camp.
  • February 20, 2012
    LeeM
    The TV series Colditz was inspired by the film The Colditz Story.
  • February 20, 2012
    Catbert
    Well, if we are going to include military run civilian internment camps:

    • Empire Of The Sun tells the story of Jamie "Jim" Graham, a young boy who goes from living in a wealthy British family in Shanghai, to becoming a prisoner in the Lunghua Civilian Assembly Center, a Japanese run internment camp in occupied China, during World War II.
  • February 21, 2012
    Arivne
    POW Camp

    Film
    • Escape to Victory (Victory in North America). Most of the movie takes place in a World War II Nazi POW camp, where a group of Allied prisoners train to play in a soccer game vs. a German team.
  • February 21, 2012
    TomWalpertac2
    16 examples. Any more hats?

    ^ Troper tale: In Iraq, our platoon sargent loved to have the platoon play soccer. one day, we watched this movie instead.
  • February 21, 2012
    Catbert
    Just leave the picture and the caption on the left until you launch this. That way they will at least appear together.
  • February 21, 2012
    TomWalpertac2
    Not sure how to make them switch sides. I think I'll just leave them as-is.
  • February 21, 2012
    LeeM
    ^^ Colditz (TV) isn't a direct spinoff from The Colditz Story - the film was made in 1955 and the series didn't come along until 1973-4. It was however based on the original book and partly on the movie.
  • February 21, 2012
    Catbert
    Live Action TV

    • The 1996 TV Movie Andersonville, directed by John Frankenheimer, tells the story of the notorious Confederate prison camp.

    Literature

    • Red Cap is a Historical Fiction Childrens Literature novel by G. Clifton Wisler. The main character is a drummer boy that ends up in the Andersonville prison cap.
    • Andersonville is a novel by MacKinlay Kantor concerning the Andersonville prison.
  • February 22, 2012
    foxley
    The Big Finish Doctor Who audio adventure Colditz is set in the eponymous POW camp.
  • February 22, 2012
    FaxModem1
    Seven Years in Tibet has our German protagonists escaping from a British camp.
  • February 22, 2012
    PaulA
    Is there a trope here, or is it just going to turn into "List of works that have a POW camp in them"?
  • February 22, 2012
    Catbert
    Its a setting trope.
  • February 25, 2012
    aurora369
    In The Good The Bad And The Ugly, Blondie and Tuco end up in a Union POW camp after their scavenging of Confederate uniforms backfires on them. Angel Eyes is running the show. It's nasty.
  • February 25, 2012
    MiinU

    Western animation

    • Avatar: The Last Airbender: In the "Puppet Master" episode, Hama tells the gaang how she, and the other waterbenders from the Southern Water Tribe, were rounded up and taken prisoner by the Fire Nation. There, they were kept in cages, with their hands shackled, so they couldn't bend. The warden even pumped in dry air as an added measure. And while they were given food and water, it was only enough to keep them alive, but just barely.
  • February 25, 2012
    TomWalpertac2
    22 examples! This is going live on Sunday the 26th.
  • February 25, 2012
    jatay3
    If the idea is that a prison camp is a bad place, Colditz doesn't count. Colditz wasn't any worse then anywhere else in the war and not treated as such in the movie if I remember.
  • February 25, 2012
    Catbert
    ^I don't see that as a requirement in the trope definition.
  • February 25, 2012
    jatay3
    It's in the laconic.
  • February 25, 2012
    elwoz
    This should mention, and perhaps summarize, the Geneva Conventions, which are treaties that set standards for how POWs are supposed to be treated. They haven't always been honored-- both in fiction and in Real Life, camp guards have figured that it's Not Cheating Unless You Get Caught -- but if someone does get caught, it's Serious Business of the "kiss your military career goodbye" variety.

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