The year 2018 marks the 75th anniversary of the Allied landings in North Africa and the defeat of the German Afrika Korps. It resulted in the capture of some 275,000 enemy soldiers. Many of these soldiers were in the first great wave of German prisoners of war to arrive in America. By the time World War II ended in 1945, more than six hundred German POW camps had sprung up across America holding a total of 371,683 POWs. One of these camps was established at the U.S. Army's training installation Camp Cooke on June 16, 1944.
The POW base camp at Cooke operated sixteen branch camps in six of California's fifty-eight counties and is today the site of Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara County. Compared to other prisoner of war camps in California, Camp Cooke generally held the largest number of German POWs and operated the most branch camps in the state.
A large number of the prisoners were from Field Marshal Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps, as well as from other military formations. Under the terms of the Geneva Convention, the prisoners received comfortable quarters and excellent care. They filled critical wartime labor shortages inside the main Army post at Cooke and in the outlying civilian communities, performing agricultural work for which they were paid. On weekends and evenings they enjoyed many recreational entertainment and educational opportunities available to them in the camp. For many POWs, the American experience helped reshape their worldview and gave them a profound appreciation of American democracy.
This book is the compelling story of fourteen German soldiers who were captured during the campaigns in North Africa and Europe, and then sat out the remainder of the war as POWs in California. It is a firsthand account of life as a POW at Camp Cooke and the lasting impression it had on the prisoners. The story is told against the backdrop of the nationwide POW program managed by the U.S. War Department.
Softcover 6 x 9
280 pages with more than 50 vintage photos
ISBN: 9781620067505 (Softcover) - PRICE: $19.95. FREE shipping.
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This book was published by Sunbury Press (sunburypress.com) in March 2018. It can also be purchased directly from the publisher or from online booksellers, including Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com.