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Location: Ruston, Louisiana, United States

Just your average joe, with an unhealthy obsession with politics and news.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

U.S. and German Military Honor German Pows Who Died In The US And A Part Of US History That Might Be Near You And You Did't Know It

I ran across a fascinating story at work today and I have been researching it in my spare time at work. Did you know at American military cemetaries across the U.S. and across the world that Americans and Germans have been honoring the German Pow's fromWWII that died here in their captivity. Prison camps were located all over the country, with a 2/3 majority in the southern states. When the war ended there were 511 branch camps and 155 base camps in the United States. Most of the camp locations was in the South and the Southwest because of the weather and the need for farm workers. However, camps were located all over the Country from Maine to California. In fact there two near where I live ,Camp Ruston and Camp Claiborne. It is is not unusal for an ex German pow family members in hand to show up at the local museum and ask for assistance to find where he spent a great part of his life. Unfortnately, its becoming more unusual I guess since so many are dying off. Its a shame that more of these camps were not saved for historical reason. By the end of the war over 500,000 German POWs were here. Anyway November the 15 was "Volkstrauertag" -- Germany's day of mourning. Go here for a wonderful recount of one ceremony as well as a general overview of the story of WWII German pows. The German POWS stories are fascinating to read. This story is pretty neat, a former pow now an American citizen recounts his time at Fort Knox. Whats really ironic is that both his sons completed their basic training there. This link goes to tell the stories of the German Pows that were in Mississipi. One entertaining story thats recounted there was that one farmer's wife fell in love with an German pow pilot. She helped him escape. They were later arrested trying to locate a plane to take them to Greenland. Escapes were quite rare and hardly ever successful because it was like where were you going to go if you did escape. This link retells an pow's experiences working in a camp in Maine. Two great sites to go to if you have more interest in this topic. Both have a great collection of links and stories as well as photos. This site list the camps and the states they were located in as well as links to some of the places that have web sites. This site has some great interviews with former german pows. One must wonder what the average civilians were thinking who were near these camps. I do remember seeing a picture in a local museum of local women making a German flag for a coffin for one guy that died. Thats pretty astonishing ,being that their sons, and husbands were likely fighting the Germans. What did local African Americans think seeing prisioners being treated better than they were probally being treated? It seems the only negative that some pows felt were being turned over to the French or worse yet the Russians after the war. Some felt a will sense of betrayal. Anyway hope you enjoyed.

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