Lone Star Stalag
German Prisoners of War at Camp Hearne
Publication Year: 2006
Published by: Texas A&M University Press
Title Page, Copyright Page
Within the last decades I had the opportunity to talk with American tourists and visitors in Germany as well as American citizens when I visited the United States in 1980, 1995, and 1999. Some of these people were surprised when they heard that I had spent nearly three years as a prisoner of war (POW) in Texas. They did not know that nearly 380,000 German prisoners of war lived in American POW camps at the end of the World War II.
I have long had a strong interest in twentieth century world history, especially the conflicts of World Wars I and II. My father, John D. Waters, served in the navy during the Second World War and told me many stories when I was young. One of the stories I remember is about the German prisoners of war my dad saw every day working around the naval base in New Orleans, where he was stationed in 1944–45. He told me that sometimes when he and his buddies were walking by the POW compound, they would hold up the newspaper and show the Germans the headlines, teasing them by shouting, ...
1. The Prisoners Arrive at Camp Hearne
Large numbers of axis soldiers surrendered to the Allies during the Second World War. The first combatants taken prisoner by the American army belonged to Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s Afrika Korps. German soldiers captured in North Africa in 1943 (fig. 1), as well as other prisoners captured by the American and British armies later in the war, were brought across the Atlantic Ocean and interned at prisoner of war (POW) camps throughout the United States. By June, 1945, more than 425,000 Axis POWs (approximately ...
2. Life at Camp Hearne
Each of Camp Hearne's three POW compounds held up to sixteen hundred prisoners. The compounds were further subdivided into four companies each, with about four hundred men per company (Fischer 1943a, 1944). Compound 1 housed Companies 1–4, Compound 2 Companies 5–7, and Compound 3 Companies 9–12 (fig. 4). There were forty to fifty men in each barracks.
3. Problems at the Camp
During the course of its operation, Camp Hearne experienced a variety of political and nonpolitical problems. These occurrences often amounted to little more than harmless pranks or various other efforts by the prisoners to relieve the stress and tedium of their incarceration. For the Americans and for some of the prisoners, however, these events were disturbing because they involved breaking the rules. Some of the more violent events were sources of ...
4. The Final Months: From V-E Day to the Camp’s Closing
In the early years of the war, most of the POWs could not fathom the idea of a German defeat. Their confidence in a German victory was based on their complete trust in the Fuehrer and in the fighting ability of the German military. In some but not all cases, the soldiers’ faith also stemmed from the belief that they were fighting for a just cause.
5. Camp Hearne Artifacts
Over fourteen hundred artifacts were recovered from Camp Hearne as a result of archaeological survey and excavation. This study represents the first intensive archaeological investigation of a German POW camp and is among the first at a World War II–era archaeological site. Camp Hearne’s grounds have been given the official Texas archaeological site designation 41RT517.
6. Fountains, Statues, and Buildings
The first part of this chapter describes the fountains, basins, statues, gardens, and other features built by the POWs during their internment at Camp Hearne (fig. 53). Many of these fountains were found during the survey and subsequently excavated and recorded. Others, however, are known only from period photographs. The latter were either destroyed by later land use at the site or lie undiscovered in the extensive vegetation covering it. The second part of this chapter describes the buildings and remaining foundations at the camp.
In the final issue of Der Spiegel, dated December 15, 1945, POW Max Weiss (the camp spokesman) and POW Walter Karg (the German Kulturwart or “Head of Cultural Activities”) wrote the following editorial entitled “Farewell Words.”
Page Count: 288
Illustrations: 67 b&w photos. 6 maps. 9 tables.
Publication Year: 2006
OCLC Number: 715188534
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