Another reeducation tool to force German POWs to take a harder look at the Third Reich was the showing of newsreels of the Nazi concentration camps. The War Department wanted to prove a point with these prisoners: There was a lesson to be learned and the lesson was “collective guilt.”
Attendance for all prisoners was mandatory. Some camps even had the men sign a register after they views the atrocity films. According to Arnold Krammer, the author of Nazi Prisoners of War in America, the reactions to these films were carefully monitored. During a showing to men at a hospital, a few men held handkerchiefs over their eyes and one sat with his eyes closed with his hands over his ears. But it was noted that the majority of men who watched the films remained outwardly unmoved.
One POW projector operator reported that the men thought the films were American propaganda and the bodies shown were actually German soldiers who had been tortured by the Russians.
A sophisticated survey by the Provost Marshall General’s Office (the military division in charge of the prison camps) to 20,000 POWs who were about to be repatriated to Germany showed only 36 percent of those interviewed believed the facts were true about the Nazi concentration camps.
Next time: American Music and Sports for the German POW
Read my historical novel about Camp Papago Park, The Swastika Tattoo, a German POW camp located on the outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona during WWII.
Copyright, Geraldine Birch. All rights reserved.