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The Re-Education of German Prisoners of War


LIFE Mar 18, 1946

Covers of books series “Neue Welt”, i.e. new world with anti-nazi literature, edited by U.S. Army Special Projects Division for German POW in cooperation with the Berman-Fischer publishing house, 1944. (German Resistance Memorial Center, Berlin)
The example of Camp Fort Devens, Massachusetts  
copyright by Norbert Haase
          In a way American POW camps represented a microcosm of the German society in the “Third Reich”. According to the time of capture – either on the Northern African theater or at the Battle of the Bulge the soldiers had different attitudes towards the outcome of the war, a different extent of nationalism and loyalty to Hitler and his regime. Ardent nationalist officers and nazi NCOs attempted to establish, what repatriants later called a “Feldwebeldiktatur”, i.e. sergeant dictatorship, a system of rigid discipline and thought control like in Nazi Germany. As a result such circumstances lead to violent confrontations between Nazi and Anti-nazi prisoners and even to murder. American camp personnel frequently acted with too much tolerance, sometimes even encouragement towards this German camp regime because they were mainly interested in military order and discipline and they distrusted radical leftist prisoners

German POWs Schooled in the Ways of Democracy

from The American Magazine, 1946
Early in 1944 the U.S. Army’s Special Projects Division of the Office of the Provost Marshal General was established in order to take on the enormous task of re-educating 360,000 German prisoners of war. Months before the Allies had landed in France it was clear to them that the Germans would soon be blitzkrieging back to the Fatherland and in order to make smooth the process of rebuilding that nation, a few Germans would be needed who understood the virtues of a republican form of government. In order to properly see the job through, two schools were built at Fort Getty, Rhode Island and Fort Eustis, Virginia.
This article was written by Robert Lowe Kunzig (1918 – 1982) 

Camp Patrick Henry, the German POW Camp, morphed into Patrick Henry Field, now Newport News Williamsburg International Airport.
Another German POW Camp was located at the continuation of the James River Bridgecrossover from Virginia Avenue to Jefferson Avenue, below the bridge. More still were housed at Fort Eustis.
The Italian POW camp was on the Old Casino Grounds which was on the hill behind theVictory Arch.
Camp Hill, also used for the Italian POWs, was bounded to the south by the temporary wooden railroad overpass at 58th Street, the James River Bridge/Military Highway railroad overpass to the north, Jefferson Avenue to the east, and the railroad yards to the west.
Ron Robin. The Barbed Wire College: Reeducating German POWs in the United States during World War II.  Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1995.
Ron Robin, an historian from the University of Haifa, aimed originally in this project to evaluate the success of the American reeducation program for German POWs held in the United States during and after the Second World War. Yet the “manifestly ineffectual” methods employed by the Americans pushed the study in another direction. Rather than devoting an “entire book to damning American reeducation officials for being presumptuous or misleading,”
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