Hitler's Soldiers in the Sunshine State: German POWs in Florida

Overview

In the first book-length treatment of the German prisoner-of-war experience in Florida during World War II, Robert D. Billinger, Jr., tells the story of the 10,000 men who were "guests" of Uncle Sam in a tropical paradise that for some became a tropical hell.

Having been captured while serving on U-boats off the Carolinas, with the Afrika Korps in Tunisia, with the paratroops in Italy, or with labor battalions in France, the POWs were among the...

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Overview

In the first book-length treatment of the German prisoner-of-war experience in Florida during World War II, Robert D. Billinger, Jr., tells the story of the 10,000 men who were "guests" of Uncle Sam in a tropical paradise that for some became a tropical hell.

Having been captured while serving on U-boats off the Carolinas, with the Afrika Korps in Tunisia, with the paratroops in Italy, or with labor battalions in France, the POWs were among the 378,000 Germans held as prisoners in 45 states.

Except for the servicemen who guarded them, the civilian pulp-cutters, citrus growers, and sugarcane foremen who worked them, and the FBI and local police who tracked the escapees among them, most people were--and still are--unaware of the German POWs who inhabited the 27 camps that dotted the Sunshine State. Billinger describes the experiences of the Germans and their captors as both sides came to the realization that, while the Germans' worst enemies were often their own comrades-in-arms, wartime enemies might also become life-long friends.

Concentrating especially on the story of Camp Blanding in North Florida, Billinger based his research on both American and German archives. His account mixes rare photos with interviews with former prisoners; reports by the International Red Cross, the YMCA, and the U.S. military; and local newspaper articles.

This book will be of great value to scholars and historians, as well as all readers with an interest in World War II. Those with an interest in Florida history will also find much to admire in this engaging account of a barely known wartime episode.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780813034416
  • Publisher: University Press of Florida
  • Publication date: 10/11/2009
  • Series: Florida History and Culture
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 984,901
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert D. Billinger Jr., Ruth Horton Davis Professor of History at Wingate University, is the author of Nazi POWs in the Tar Heel State.

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Table of Contents

Series Editors' Foreword
Preface
Introduction 1
1 National Context 7
2 Uncle Sam's Smiling Workers 17
3 U-boat Men and Other Naval Prisoners: Special Breed, Special Problems 47
4 When the Afrika Korps Came to Blanding: Riots and Repatriations 60
5 The "Worst Camp in America": Clewiston Escapes and a Suicide 72
6 Escapees: The Individualists, the Threatened, and the Alienated 99
7 MacDill Menus and Belle Glade Beans: The Press and Coddling Charges 118
8 On the Threshold: Reeduction Efforts in the Blanding and Gordon Johnson Camps 140
9 The Long Way Home: Repatriation 166
10 Epilogue: Graves, Alumni, and Memories 180
App 1,250 Miles through Florida 195
Notes 205
Bibliography 251
Index 257
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2000

    Not all sun and fun

    Excellent book. Well done series of photographs. The author has provided the type of interviews graduate students would do well to emulate. Well written.

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