The German POWs had been trained at Fort Wetherill, Rhode Island, to be administrators and policemen in the newly liberated Germany, scheduled to work for OMGUS (Office of the Miltary Government, United States). More than 3,700 of them had gone through sixty days of training and were to be among the first prisoners of war repatriated to their homeland.

The head of the War Department’s reeducation program, Dr. Howard Mumford Jones, was told by General Dwight D. Eisenhower that he needed the students for minor German government posts. All of the men were shipped to Germany, but something happened that was totally unexpected, according to Nazi Prisoners of War in America by Arnold Krammer.

“We shipped the entire class to Europe, armed with the proper books and cigarettes,” said Dr. Jones. “Convincing the captain of marines on that ship that we were acting under orders was one of the most difficult diplomatic tasks of my career. Once in Europe, to continue the saga, the POWs were immediately put into barbed wire enclosures, since the Army is marvelous in its SNAFUS.”

Next time: Bureaucracy at its finest

Copyright, Geraldine Birch. All rights reserved.

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