We baby boomers grew up in a time when many televised movies were westerns or World War II films. I also loved Hogan Heroes, the television series about allied POWs who were operating an espionage unit within Stalag 13, a POW camp run by bumbling Germans. Yet, it was not until 2010 that I learned that the allies had POW camps here in America.
Although over 400,000 WWII POWs were in America. The camps were small and scattered across the country. Last year, I had the opportunity to visit Wright-Patterson AFB near Dayton, and that is where I first learned about not only all the German POWs, but also the ones held at what was then known as Wright Field.
These prisoners worked on the base in base mess halls and warehouses, as well as maintaining the grounds. Apparently, since some of them had artistic abilities, they painted several murals on mess hall walls depicting German folklore. Evidence indicates that the German POWs painted three murals, yet only one remains today – standing quietly in an unsuspecting building as a part of the base’s history. I’m glad I got to see them, otherwise I may have never known about WWII POWs in America – even those not all that far away.