German POWs in America
German POW Re-education and Return
The POWs were not returned to Germany immediately after the war ended, and were held for nearly 18 months afterwards. Many of the POWs shipped out towards the end of 1946, but did not go directly home even then. The American and British forces in Germany were not equipped to handle the influx of POWs from England and America since the country had no infrastructure, few intact buildings and very little food. It made more sense to keep the POWs in place until Germany was in a better position to handle them. Additionally, this gave the U.S. time to re-educate the POWS into their way of thinking. They were given classes telling them the Gestapo and other Fascists ways were a thing of the past.
The POWs were also forced to watch U.S. government documentaries of the Holocaust and the liberation of the camps. The vast majority of the POWs were captured in North Africa or other regions in western Europe and were unaware of the concentration camps and the extermination of the Jewish people. The POWs at first thought the films were fake, but came to realize they were true, and many POWs stated they were horrified by what they saw. 
The German POWs report to the theater as ordered to watch U.S. documentaries. Many POWs called these movies “Films of Bones.”
The POWs gather to hear that the time has come for them to be repatriated, but then find out that they will not go directly home, but will be sent to France, Italy, the Netherlands, other European countries and even Russia to work for several months or even years to help rebuild those countries. There are several accounts of the French using the POWs as slave labor instead of using them for reconstruction, and forcing them to work in the mines in deplorable conditions, and with very little food or clothing. Many of these POWs were not returned to Germany until 1948. POWs that were sent to Russia fared even worse. Many of the 10,000 plus that were sent there simply disappeared and are believed lost within the prison system. It is believed that they never were used as reconstructive labor, but sent directly to Gulags as war crimes prisoners. Of the handful that did return, many did not do so until as late as 1953.
The POWs were saddened to return to a broken and bombed country with inadequate food, housing or medical care. A great number of the POWs applied to return to the U.S.  Many of them were granted permission, and became U.S. citizens. Others who stayed often wrote letters to the farmers they had worked for. Many of these farmers sent packages of clothing, coffee and other food items to them.
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©, 2013
These images are all screencaps from the History Channel DVD: Nazi POWs in America. This DVD is a tie-in to Arnold Krammer’s book of the same title. This DVD is is available from the History Channel and features interviews with Arnold Krammer, some of the former POWs, and residents of Aliceville, Alabama which was one of the very first towns to house German POWs.  The various other sources for this information are listed here.