The Prisoner of War performers of Cottbus are often seen dressed as women. Be them showcasing a comedy, drama, or posing for the camera a majority of the images associated with the Cottbus Prison Camp of World War I is detailed by the act of drag. The Prisoners of War and performers, both in and out of drag, depict a far greater atmosphere of the Cottbus camp where both soldier and prisoner work to assert control over their very out-of-control lives through the performance of drag. Men performing as women is not a new nor unique phenomenon. Yet, the gender-bent performances seen in the Cottbus POWs are distinctly more than just dressing up. Appearing in multiple postcards, and referenced in official government documents, the gender-bending activities were an integral aspect in the lives of POWs at Cottbus, and the performances to be a form of drag. Drag “complicates the distinction between readable exteriors and stable identities, confusing the “essence” or a particular body.” The performance, both on stage and off, was a reassertion of control over their bodies. “Being a prisoner of war could indeed be an emasculating experience. In times of war, the front-line soldier is the epitome of masculinity, and the presence of armed guards and barbed wire as well as the letters ‘P/W' stenciled on their clothes constantly reminded the Germans that they no longer belonged to this group.” As men whose "essence” can be stripped away in war and imprisonment, where their bodies were in constant flux, the performance of drag recreated a sense of control over their bodies and identities.
Performing both drama and comedy the prisoners took their drag to different extremes of the human experience utilizing detailed staging and costuming. Drag, traditionally conceptualized as “conspicuous displays of glamor” the performances of the drag performers of Cottbus leaned distinctly towards the glamor of normalcy. Through their performances, both gender-bent and not the POWs attempt to glamorize normalcy by creating a new normal. The continued act of performance, either in posing for the camera, or performing for a crowd is a form of drag for the POWs. Seen clearly in Figure II where a British couple poses before an image of Cliffs of Dover. This couple embraces the more traditional sense of drag where they not only gender-bend a “typical” day, but the performers also utilize the costumes to enhance the performance of drag. Their costumes, one is dressed in a hobble skirt and the other in evening wear with a top hat, would have been “normal” if not the high of fashion but is dated in comparison to what fashion standards of when the performance occurred which exaggerates the overall performance of normalcy.