Most German prisoners of war held in the United States believed they were headed for home after Germany’s collapse. Little did these thousands of men know that they were not headed for home but instead would be shipped to France, Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg. It was a secret deal hatched between the War Department and France about six weeks after the end of the war in Europe.
According to Arnold Krammer’s Nazi Prisoners of War in America, 375,000 German POWs were transferred quickly to French control from American holding pens in Europe. Men held in the five hundred camps in the United States had little inkling they were going to France and other European countries to rebuild what the Third Reich had destroyed.
The Germans prisoners learned on November 21, 1945 that they were going to be used in labor battalions in Europe after an announcement by the War Department. They were outraged, calling the agreement ’slave trading’ and that there seemed to be little difference between Germany’s Nazism and America’s democracy.
Most of the 300,000 Germans did not know where they were going–home or to a labor ballalion–until they actually set foot in Europe.
Next time: Treatment of German POWs by France
Read my historical novel about Camp Papago Park, The Swastika Tattoo, a German POW camp located on the outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona during WWII. My book is now out in paperback!!
Copyright Geraldine Birch. All rights reserved.