Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Jeffrey Wells, Torsten Homberger, Christopher Steinke
Korean War;McCarthyism;Prisoners of War;Repatriation
American POWs from the Korean War had a different experience than POWs from other wars. The POWs who returned from the Korean War faced a home front that was suspicious of them. Due to the prevalence of McCarthyism in America during this time, the military, government, media, and citizens all worried that the returning POWs may return as communists. The military and FBI investigated the POWs and court-marshaled a few for collaborating with the North Koreans while in the camp. The experience of what happened to the American soldiers in the POW camps has received much scholarly attention, but the topic of their experience, when they returned home, has received less, usually just the concluding chapter in scholars’ books. Although prisoners of war were a reality in other wars, the experience of American POWs from the Korean War returning home was different because of the suspicions they encountered when they returned home due to McCarthyism, how the government and military treated them due to fears of brainwashing and communism in the POW camps, and how the newspapers and magazines reported on the returning men. Archival records from the National Archives, Eisenhower Presidential Library, and Truman Presidential Library along with oral histories, newspapers, and magazine articles, will demonstrate what the POWs faced when they returned home. This topic will add to the historiography of the Korean War and to the historiography of American Korean War POWs because it will provide a more in-depth analysis of the unique experience they encountered.
Merithew, Margaret, "A Different Welcome Home: How Accusations of Brainwashing Affected the Experience of the Returning American POWs from the Korean War" (2023). History Theses, Dissertations, and Student Creative Activity. 26.