This study of the World War II prisoner of war (POW) camp at Huntsville, Texas, combines academic and public history nicely. It emerged from a 2012 seminar about the POW camp taught by Jeffrey L. Littlejohn at Sam Houston State University and incorporates work from his students, but it also came about from the desire of the community to remember the camp as well as the (unstated) desire of the university community to document its Country Campus [End Page 971] that occupied the site of the camp into the 1960s. Editors Littlejohn and his writing partner, Charles H. Ford of Norfolk State University in Virginia, organize the short narrative into six chapters that track the camp’s existence from its origins through its postwar existence, followed by a full transcript of the Geneva Convention of 1929 and endnotes. The work contains neither a bibliography, largely because it relies heavily on primary sources from the National Archives, nor an index.
Each chapter is well illustrated and divided by subheadings, which make the first chapter about the camp’s origins seem syncopated. The study becomes more sustained in the next three chapters concerning European internees; this section is the book’s real strength as well as its greatest appeal to readers outside the local community. Chapter 2 discusses the arrival of Afrika Korps prisoners in 1943 and their daily lives, camp conditions, diet, and the use of prisoners as labor for the local cotton and timber industries. Chapter 3 deals with the domination of the camp population by hard-core Nazi prisoners, a prison riot, and the baffling response of camp commanders to transfer anti-Nazi German prisoners even though Camp Alva, Oklahoma, was designated to receive the Nazis. Chapter 4 examines the history and morality of political reeducation of prisoners that occurred in the wake of the riot in November 1943.
When Germany surrendered in May 1945, all European prisoners were repatriated or transferred. After Japan surrendered, Camp Huntsville took in either 160 or 205 (the authors are unclear) Japanese prisoners between October and December 1945 to reeducate them in an attempt to instill American democratic values into postwar Japanese society. This experiment was spearheaded by the State Department’s John Emmerson and involved Sam Houston State Teacher College faculty. Chapter 5 provides an incisive critique of the reeducation program, but its discussion of this fascinating episode is hampered by the short time the Japanese prisoners were at the camp and the dearth of sources compared with those concerning German and Italian prisoners.
“The Enemy Within Never Did Without”: German and Japanese Prisoners of War at Camp Huntsville, 1942–1945 expands our knowledge of POW camps scattered across the United States. The story of the Huntsville camp’s origins and its European prisoners comports with similar histories of other camps, and the history of its Japanese reeducation program raises a number of intriguing research questions. The book would have benefited from a stronger editorial hand, as its narrative is slightly uneven and contains some noticeable typographical errors. In addition, the title is not satisfactorily explained, though the narrative alludes to it. Nevertheless, the study is a good model for collaborative historical publication and a worthwhile addition to the literature.