This marker denotes the location of Camp Opelika, one of four prisoner of war camps built in Alabama during WWII. Construction began in September 1945 and was completed a short time later. At its peak, the camp held 3,000 prisoners, most of whom were German soldiers. The first prisoners to arrive were captured in North Africa (they were part of General Erwin Rommel’s Africa Corps). Nothing of the camp's structures remains, as they were dismantled after the war. The area has since been an industrial area.
Backstory and Context
Interestingly, sometimes prisoners had to be separated between those who supported Nazism and those who did not. Additionally, not prisoners were German. Italians and those of other nationalities who were forced to fight for Germany (such as Belgians, French, and Latvians) were also prisoners. Here at Camp Opelika, there were even 17 Irish prisoners who volunteered to fight for Germany.
Hutchinson, Daniel. "World War II POW Camps in Alabama." Encyclopedia of Alabama. January 7, 2008 (Updated November 7, 2013). http://www.encyclopediaofalabama.org/article/h-1418.
Photo: Tim Carr, via the Historical Marker Database