Between 1943 and 1945 nearly fifty thousand German prisoners of war, mostly from the German Afrika Korps, lived and worked at seventy POW camps across Texas. Camp Hearne, located on the outskirts of rural Hearne, Texas, was one of the first and largest POW camps in the United States. Now Michael R. Waters and his research team tell the story of the five thousand German soldiers held as POWs at that camp during World War II. Drawing on newspaper accounts and official records from the time, an archaeological study of the site, and the recollections of surviving POWs, guards, and local residents, Waters and his team have constructed a detailed description of life in the camp: educational opportunities, recreation, mail call, religious practices, work details, and the food provided. Also revealed are the more serious issues that faced Americans inside the POW compounds: illegal alcohol distillation, suicides, escapes, hidden secret shortwave radios, and the subversion of postal services. Artifacts recovered from the site and from the collections of local residents add concrete details.
Waters also discusses the national policies and motivations for the treatment of prisoners that prescribed the particulars of camp life. The book reveals the shadow world of Nazism that existed in the camp, adding darkness to a story that is otherwise optimistic and in places even humorous. The murder of Cpl. Hugo Krauss, a German-born, New York-raised volunteer in the German army, was the most sinister and brutal example of Nazi activity. Captured in North Africa after service in Russia, Krauss was attacked seven months later by six to ten fellow prisoners who beat him to death with clubs, nail-studded boards, and a lead pipe. The dramatic recounting of the murder and the ensuing investigation illustrate much about the underlying political tensions of camp existence. Numerous photographs and drawings enrich Lone Star Stalag's narrative, which will appeal to World War II historians and archaeologists alike.show more