German POWs in America
German Soldiers vrs. Nazi Soldiers
In the beginning, all POWs were grouped together -- the U,S. naively believed that all German soldiers were the same and made little distinction between party affiliation. They quickly learned, however, that there was a difference between a regular German Army solder and a Nazi soldier. The Nazi’s frequently caused trouble right from the beginning, but in the beginning these were often times relatively harmless acts such as disobeying an order from a guard, not working up to standards or other infractions. Because there was a shortage of M.P.s, the camp commanders frequently had the POWs police themselves. The Nazi soldiers became the leaders of the internal “police force.” The Army, well aware of growing internal violence, quite often looked the other way. A quiet camp was a good camp. According to one POW that was interviewed, the commanders also liked the German discipline and relied on it heavily to maintain order in the barracks. Unfortunately, the Nazi “police force” started to hold secret tribunals and kangaroo courts. If a POW spoke against Germany, Hitler or seemed to be becoming to Americanized, a group referred to as the “Holy Ghost” or Lager Gestapo would visit them in the night and beat them while they ordered the other POWs in the barracks to be still. The other POWs were afraid to say anything in case they would be targeted too. Some of these beatings led to death. The Holy Ghost would try to make any murder look like a suicide, often leaving suicide notes, or slashing the wrists of a POW to make the wounds look self-inflicted. A new POW by the name of Krauss was caught singing American songs after dinner one evening, and he said that the Americans deserved to win the war. He spoke excellent English and was suspected of being a traitor or spy. During the night, seven Nazi POWs visiting him in his barracks and beat him with clubs with long spikes driven into the ends. He died the next day. First Lady Elinore Roosevelt heard about the Nazi POWs violence and began an inquiry into the situation. Because of her efforts, a special camp was constructed in Oklahoma where the thugs, hard-core Nazi POWs and Waffen SS were sent to be housed. The movie, The Incident, as presented in this website, details one such instance of Nazi violence within the camps. While this movie is fictitious, it is based in fact.
This is the Nazi Lager in Oklahoma.
Reenactment of the murder of POW Krauss.
Declassified military documents showing the murders of POWs. It is believed that the deaths by suicide are actually murders by the Holy Ghost. The POWs who murdered Krauss were imprisoned and sentenced to death, and hung after the end of the war. The delay was an effort to protect the U.S. POWs held by the Germans so there was no retaliation.
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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.