Axis Prisoners of War in Kentucky

Behind Barbed Wire in the Bluegrass State, 1941–1946


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SKU: 9781476681689 Categories: ,

About the Book

During World War II, Kentuckians rushed from farms to factories and battlefields, leaving agriculture throughout the state—particularly the lucrative tobacco industry—without sufficient labor. An influx of Axis prisoners of war made up the shortfall. Nearly 10,000 German and Italian POWs were housed in camps at Campbell, Breckinridge, Knox and other locations across the state. Under the Geneva Convention, they worked for their captors and helped save Kentucky’s crops, while enjoying relative comfort as prisoners—playing sports, performing musicals and taking college classes. Yet, friction between Nazi and anti-Nazi inmates threatened the success of the program. This book chronicles the POW program in Kentucky and the vital contributions the Bluegrass State made to Allied victory.

About the Author(s)

Antonio S. Thompson is a professor of history at Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. He is the author of four books on World War II Axis prisoners of war in the United States, has co-edited two books on American military and diplomatic history, and has also published on zombie popular culture.

Bibliographic Details

Antonio S. Thompson
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 226
Bibliographic Info: 15 photos, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2024
pISBN: 978-1-4766-8168-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-5024-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Preface 1
1. The Depression, World War II, and the Kentucky Home Front 5
2. Kentucky Enters World War II 16
3. Working for the Enemy: Axis Labor in Kentucky, 1942–1944 32
4. The POW Labor Program, 1945–1946: Critical Manpower Shortages, the End of the War, and Full Employment 54
5. Holes in the Barbed Wire: Escapes of Prisoners of War 69
6. Problems with the POWs: Violence, Murder, and Nazi Influence Behind the Wire 88
7. The Good Life: Camp Life, Coddling, and Fraternization 112
8. Repatriation and the Results of the POW Program in Kentucky 140
Chapter Notes 155
Bibliography 195
Index 211