Camp Fannin Historical Markers
The markers are located along highway 271. The camp was enormous, covering an area of 150,000 acres north of the highway.
Photo of the 61st battalion of Camp Fannin
German POWs in East Texas
This map shows the layout of the camp
Backstory and Context
The first prisoners of war arrived in October 1943 from Germany’s Afrika Korps. The Afrika Korps generally refers to German units operating in N. Africa during the war. The Afrika Korps was formed per Hitler’s personal orders on January 11, 1941 ran until its surrender in May 1943. The German term refers solely to the initial unit in N. Africa, underneath original commander Erwin Rommel. However, allied forces and the press began to use the term “Afrika Korps” to refer to all German forces operating out of North Africa. Rommel was a World War I officer who further established himself as a respected military commander for his actions in North Africa that also earned him the nickname ‘Desert Fox.’ He would go on to command the German troops at the invasion of Normandy.
Due to the shortage of work force with all the men off at war, the War Department began allowing the use of POWs for forestry and agriculture work in East Texas. At the time, this was common, with POWs working in farms throughout the country, in the agricultural hub of the Midwest particularly. The question of putting POWs to work was contested, as by the terms of the Geneva Convention it was illegal to put POWs to work unless they were paid. In the end, the POWs were put to work and paid 0.80/day, with farmers paying the US government 0.45/hour per laborer to have them as hands, which helped cover the cost of caring for the prisoners.
"Camp Fannin Internment Camp - World War II P.O.W. Camp." The Historical Marker Database. Accessed September 14, 2015. http://www.hmdb.org/marker.asp?marker=60598
"Camp Fannin." Handbook of Texas Online. Accessed September 14, 2015. https://tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/qbc11.
Citino, Robert. "Rommel's Afrika Korps." Military History Quarterly, History.net. May 3, 2012. http://www.historynet.com/rommels-afrika-korps.htm.
Garcia, Malcolm. "German POWs on the American Homefront." Smithsonian Magazine. September 15, 2009. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/german-pows-on-the-american-homefront-141009996/?no-ist=&page=...