BACK TO eMAIL CALL
 

Back to TABLE of CONTENT

 

Charles Fiore
lcfiore@hotmail.com


 

 

Emails from
Constance Sachs
to Camp Forrest web site

 
Sent: Wed 7/29/2009 7:55 PM
Steve-
Another good resource for finding about German POWs is JSTOR - a database available thru the libraries.  It is a storehouse of articles and essays.  A good article is "German POWs in the United States" by Arnold P. Krammer.
 
Thanks-
Connie Sachs

 
 

Camp Forrest during World War II

 

Sent: Wed 7/29/2009 10:10 AM

 
Steve,
Thank you for running such an important web site.
 
I recently came across an article that mentioned 3 German POWs from Camp Forrest that worked on the campus of the University of the South in Sewanee, TN under the supervision of professor Abbott Martin. I was wondering if you (or if you know of someone else) that might be able to provide me with a couple of specifics...for example, would these POWs have been bused down from Tullahoma each day, or would they have stayed on campus for the duration of their work? And would they have been accompanied by an MP of some kind, or would they have been simply under the supervision of Dr. Martin, who oversaw the landscaping work in the early 1940s?
 
I know that POWs were often used in surrounding communities for farm labor etc. Just wondering how the logistics usually played out.
 
Any help would be appreciated...or if you know of a good resource, that would be great too!
 
Best regards,
Charles Fiore
Sewanee, c'00
773.263.5904
 

Sent: Wed 7/29/2009 4:16 PM

Sent to Constance Sachs on behalf of Charles Fiore
 

Constance,

Would you happen to be of any help to Mr. Fiore (letter below)? I donít know if your studies and research has crossed any such information as he is seeking but I thought about you first as a possible source.

I am also posting his letter on campforrest.com in hopes that others might have some insight. I hope all is well with you and you are enjoying your summer.

Steve Speer

 
View Camp Forrest Correspondence from Constance Sachs
 

Sent: 7/29/2009 4:22 PM

 

Dear Charles,

Iíve forwarded your email to Constance Sachs who may be able to help. I will also post your letter on the Camp Forrest web site.

The article you speak of, is it online or from a print publication?

Sincerely

Steve Speer

 

Sent: Wed 7/29/2009 7:14 PM

 
Hi, Steve-
All is well.  I know the following from my research:
 
1.  The three POWs would have been driven down daily to the University, as POWs were not allowed to be out of camp unless they were on work detail.
2.  They were most likely accompanied by an armed soldier who afforded very lax "security" for the trio.  The POWs were mostly cooperative, even though there were many escape attempts (the most infamous being the 25 POWs who escaped Christmas Day from Camp Papago in Phoenix, AZ.  All were subsequently captured.)
3.  Dr. Martin would have had to contract out the three POWs through the War Manpower Commission.  The POWs could not work in areas sensitive to the war effort, so many worked in agriculture.  They were paid $.80 a day in "scrip" that could be used at the camp canteen to buy things like cigarettes, 3/2 beer, toiletries, etc.
4.  The POWs would have received their "rations" for the day - a sack lunch.  Most of those who contracted out the POW labor also fed them, even though it was stipulated they should not.
 
I hope this helps.  If I can be of further assistance, please let me know.  (zickbeeut@hotmail.com or csachs@utk.edu)
 
Thanks-
Connie Sachs

 

Sent: Wed 7/29/2009 7:46 PM

Subject: 3 German POWs from Camp Forrest
 
Steve,
Thanks so much for your email, and thanks for forwarding it on to Constance (and for posting it on the web site).
 
I came across the mention in an excerpt from a forthcoming book,
Sewanee Places, by Gerald Smith and Sean Suarez. In reference to a garden trail in Sewanee named Abbo's Alley, it reads:
 
"Beginning in 1942, Professor Martin used World War II German prisoners of war bused up from Tullahoma along with many University students in the building of the paths and trails and in transplanting wildflowers into the ravine."
 
I dug around a little and came to the conclusion that the POWs must have come from Camp Forrest. Camp Forrest gets referenced specifically in an online article (I believe from the Sewanee web site) in reference to the creation of Abbo's Alley, and then a NY Times letter to the editor from 1984 references "three German prisoners from the nearby camp in Tullahoma" who helped with the work there. Apparently, one even wrote Abbot Martin a thank-you letter for his kindness.
 
Anyway, just looking for any more details. Kind've an interesting story.
 
Best regards,
Charles Fiore

 

Sent: Wed 7/29/2009 10:05 PM

 
Connie and Steve,

Thank you both so much, not only for getting back to me so quickly, but also for the incredible depth of information you were able to provide. You gave me exactly the answers I was hoping for.
 
You guys have a great set-up going, and we are lucky to have you both as such incredible resources.
 
I'm embarrassed to admit, but I wasn't at all familiar with the German POW experience in this country until recently. My interest is definitely piqued--especially in relation to Camp Forrest. That area of Tennessee has a special place in my heart--incredible history. I'm looking forward to learning more.
 
Best regards,
Charles Fiore

Sent: Wed 7/29/2009 10:05 PM

 

Charles-
There were four German POW camps in TN - Camp Forrest in Tullahoma, Camp Crossville in Crossville, Camp Campbell in Clarksville and the Memphis Armed Services in Memphis.  There were several branch camps - one is Camp Tyson in Paris, TN.  I believe the only camp that started out as a POW camp was Camp Crossville.  Many POWs were processed through Camp Crossville as they moved on to other parts of the country.  I believe that in 1940, Ed Westcott, the famed chronicaler of the "Secret City" of Oak Ridge, was asked to do a photo survery of the property in Crossville to determine if it would be suitable for such a camp.

UT now owns Camp Crossville.  It is a 4-H camp.  Camp Campbell is part of Fort Campbell, KY.  There was a total of 150 base camps and over 600 branch camps in the United States from 1942-1946 that housed German, Italian and Japanese POWs.  The POWs mostly worked in an agricultural capacity outside the camps.  Once German surrendered, the POWs were classified as "beligerants" and were allowed to work on military installations. 

A good friend of mine, Steve Hoza, is a WWII historian and can tell you about the German POWs in the United States as well.  His email is steve.hoza@srpmic-nsn.gov.  He wrote the book about the German POWs in Arizona. 

This is just a portion of what I've learned from my research. I will be writing my senior thesis on some aspect of the POW camps in Tennessee. 

Many people I have talked to were unaware we had POW camps in the United States.  It is a fascinating subject!

Thanks-
Connie Sachs


Sent: Tue 8/4/2009 9:14 AM

 
Hello, Charles, Linda and Steve:
In continuing my research, I came across several notes of interest.  These do not reference Camp Forrest, but are of general interest regarding the German POW camps in the United States. 

Due to the US Army's lack of knowledge in caring for POWs, Army commanders thought it would be best for the prisoners to run their own camps.  This was due in part to the lack of interpreters and personnel.  From August of 1942, when the initial load of prisoners arrived, to Feb, of 1943, Nazi POWs basically ran many of the camps.  This was a detriment to the anti-Nazi, democratic prisoners, who were beaten, "forced" to commit suicide and killed for not sharing the ideals of the fanatic Nazis they were interned with.  This led to a written directive in Feb, 1943, which ordered the separation of Nazis from anti-Nazis.  Fanatical Nazis were sent to Alva, OK while the anti-Nazis were sent to Camp Campbell, TN/KY, Camp Devins, MA and Camp McCain, MS. 

Some of the servicemen who served at the camps were not very happy with their assignment.  They would much rather have been in the "guts and glory" of the front lines.  Because the Army had no precident for the POW camps, the camp commanders had no precident either.  Standardization of the different processes regarding the POWs was often haphazard because the POW camps were not the Army's first priority - fighting a dual-front war was the top priority.  Camp commanders and personnel often found themselves frustrated as they sought answers to many of the POW problems.  One of the problems was souvenier seekers.  The POWs were subjected to frequent searches of their belongings and their persons in order to obtain any personal affects they had that would prove they were here.  The personal effects were then confiscated as war "trophies" by those assigned to their care.  Many times, a POW's "papers" were confiscated.  This lead to a great deal of confusion as to who the prisoner was and what his background was (service record, special training, etc.).  

Arnold Krammer's, "Nazi Prisoners of War in America" is a good resource to find out more about the POW camps.

One subject that keeps popping up in my research is the role of the arts in the camps.  Many camps had a chorus, an orchestra and/or dance band, a theater troupe, a woodworking shop and art supplies were furnished for the prisoners.  The prisoners were also able to participate in a "distance learning" program of sorts.  College level classes were offered to the POWs through area colleges.  Many POWs actually got college credit for their classes and went on the continue their college education at a later date.  The camps also had libraries and record collections.  These camps were by no means comparable to the concentration camps of Nazi Germany.  In fact, the US Army had been accused of "coddling" the prisoners - giving them resort-type ammenities (food, etc.) when the average US citizen was subject to rationing. 

I continue to find this subject quite fascinating!

Sincerely-
Connie Sachs