Lone Star Stalag
German Prisoners of War at Camp Hearne
Military History - World War II
6 x 9, 288 pp.
67 b&w photos., 6 maps., 9 tables.
Pub Date: 01/17/2006
  paper
Price:        $22.95

978-1-58544-545-5
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Published by Texas A&M University Press
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Lone Star Stalag

German Prisoners of War at Camp Hearne

By Michael R. Waters, Mark Long, William Dickens, Sam Sweitz, Anna Lee Presley, Ian Buvit, Michelle Raisor, Bryan Mason, Hilary Standish and Norbert Dannhaeuser
Foreword by Willi Nellessen

“The cement slabs and decaying fountains obscured by vegetation at the site of Camp Hearne echo a time forgotten of a bustling city of nearly 5,000 men brought together by world conflict.”

The oral histories, archival research, and archaeological data compiled by author Michael Waters and his team of researchers tells the story of 5,000 German soldiers held as prisoners of war in rural Texas during World War II. Camp Hearne, located on the outskirts of Hearne, Texas, was one of the first and largest POW camps in the United States. Between 1943 and 1945 nearly 50,000 German prisoners, mostly from the German Afrika Korps lived and worked at seventy POW camps across Texas. The story of Camp Hearne told here offers the first in-depth look at one of these camps and includes an archaeological study of the treatment and conditions of the German prisoners.

Drawing on newspaper accounts and official records from the time, 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 the Americans inside the POW compounds: illegal alcohol distillation, suicides, escapes, hidden secret shortwave radios, and the subversion of postal services. Fascinating 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 shadow world of Nazism in the camp is revealed, adding darkness to a story that is otherwise optimistic and in places humorous. The most sinister and brutal example of Nazi activity was the murder of Corporal Hugo Krauss, a German-born New York–raised volunteer in the German army. Captured in North Africa after service in Russia, Krause was attacked seven months later by six to ten fellow prisoners and beaten 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.
This book makes a unique and notable contribution to Texas history. The narrative is enriched by numerous photographs and drawings. It  will engage those interested in Texas history and World War II and hold particular interest for avocational and professional historical archaeologists.

MICHAEL. WATERS is the principal author of this work and served as the head of the research team. He is a professor of anthropology and geography at Texas A&M University and is Associate Director of the Center for the Study of the First Americans

What Readers Are Saying:

“It is well written, engaging, and original . . . will fill an important gap in our knowledge of World War Two on the homefront . . . Waters’ book is the only book to examine the history of a single camp, and that in Texas, complete with interviews with former prisoners, guards, and local townspeople. Even more important, Waters’ book is also an archaeological examination of the campsite, based on the detailed labor of dozens of young archaeological students over a period of some four years. Waters details their findings, to reveal the daily experiences of the more than 4,000 German soldiers who spent the war year in Texas. Prof. Waters and his team have unearthed a treasure trove of information which will be of interest to historians, archaeologists, history buffs, and specialists of Texas history, alike.”--Arnold Krammer, author, Nazi Prisoners of War in America and Hitler’s Last Soldier in America.

“It is well written, engaging, and original . . . will fill an important gap in our knowledge of World War Two on the homefront . . . Waters’ book is the only book to examine the history of a single camp, and that in Texas, complete with interviews with former prisoners, guards, and local townspeople. Even more important, Waters’ book is also an archaeological examination of the campsite, based on the detailed labor of dozens of young archaeological students over a period of some four years. Waters details their findings, to reveal the daily experiences of the more than 4,000 German soldiers who spent the war year in Texas. Prof. Waters and his team have unearthed a treasure trove of information which will be of interest to historians, archaeologists, history buffs, and specialists of Texas history, alike.” --Arnold Krammer, author, Nazi Prisoners of War in America and Hitler

“An interesting and informative story. . . with a few notable exceptions, the experiences of Axis Powers POWs have been virtually overlooked as a subject matter. The authors have conducted excellent historical records research by their obtaining an abundance of primary documents specific to Camp Hearne. They have obtained sufficient oral histories not only from former POWs but also from former guards and local civilian residents who worked within or lived near the camp. The use of anecdotes acquired from these individuals was an effective technique that re-created life within the camp without being pedantic.” --Charles Haecker, Archeologist, Heritage Partnerships Program, National Parks

“Put together a comprehensive volume about life in one of the largest POW camps in Texas...” --The Bryan-College Station Eagle

“Fascinating and well-researched study. . .” --The Dallas Morning News

Lone Star Stalag fills an important gap in our knowledge of what was happening on the home front when “occupied” by foreign enemies.” --Mexia Daily News

“Finally, a chapter describing archaeological investigations of the Camp Hearne physical site provides a good idea of the design and appearance of a POW camp in the United States. Lone Star Stalag is a pioneering work that every student of the prisoner of war experience in World War II and the material culture of POWs should read.” --Military Trader

“This masterful synthesis, using accounts of and interviews with former POWs and guards, government and prison records, census documents and newspaper articles, and archaeological evidence, reconstructs life at the camp during World War II. The POW routine, diet, athletic and recreational activities, labor, and morale are described in superb detail. . . . From the cement slabs and decaying foundations of Camp Hearne, the authors have constructed a riveting narrative that makes an innovative contribution to Texas and World War II history.” --WWII History

“A good model for local history.” --Choice

“Michael Water’s study is a significant contribution to our understanding of POW history and shows how far this field has meanwhile progressed. . . Lone Star Stalag is an excellent, very informative and beautifully crafted book, richly endowed with photos, graphics, maps, and tables. . . should be a model for the studies of other camps in the United States.” --The Journal of Military History

“Excellent study and a fine addition to the body of knowledge about the war years on the home front.” --Review of Texas Books

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