Before Nancy and I leave the summer of 1944 behind and begin reminiscing about eighth grade in Lincoln School, we should remind readers of a brief era in Gettysburg history that most tourists never knew existed.
Our memories were jogged when we read the entry for July 1 in Nancy’s 1944 diary:
This afternoon, Bill and I played croquet and Monopoly. After supper, Grandpa and I went with Aunt Sara and Betty Ann to see the German Prison Camp.
The first POWs were sent to Gettysburg in the Spring of 1944 to help harvest and process fruits and vegetables for the farms, orchards and canneries in the Adams County area.
Initially, fifty Prisoners of War lived in the National Guard Armory, but when the tent camp on the edge of the borough just west of the Emmitsburg Road was completed, it housed nearly 500 prisoners.
The camp on the Emmitsburg Road was strictly a tent camp, so in November of 1944, it was abandoned and prisoners were moved to other areas including 200 who were interned near West Confederate Avenue at a location previously known as Camp Colt. Captain Dwight D. Eisenhower commanded a tank corps at Camp Colt during World War I.
In 1945, a second POW camp was created at Micheaux State Forest between Chambersburg and Carlisle. German Prisoners of War were secretly interrogated there until they were eventually returned to Germany. In June of 1945, 200 Japanese prisoners were assigned to the camp.
Author Barbara Platt wrote a more complete description of the Gettysburg camp in her book, This Holy Ground.
NOTE: The photo above is from the Adams County Historical Society in Gettysburg