I am shocked. I was researching some sites for future trips and tours when I stumbled across some interesting locations at https://uncoveringpa.com/abandoned-places-in-pennsylvania. Some I had seen before but most I hadn’t and the one that caught my eye was the Camp Michaux/Pine Grove Furnace Prisoner of War Interrogation Camp in Michaux State Forest in Fayetteville, Pennsylvania. I have found it called by both names but it looks like it was officially name is Camp Michaux. Camp Michaux is 1 of 9 POW locations in Pennsylvania.
There were POW camps in 47 states and imprisoned 425,871 German, Italian and Japanese prisoners. Most camps were in the South due to the cost of heating. The state with the most camps was California with 106 and then Texas with 80. All enlisted men received a space equal to that of a conscripted US solider, officers received larger accommodations and the 43 captured generals and admirals stayed in private bungalows. The US strictly followed Geneva Convention guidelines and ensured that prisoners received, food, housing, weather appropriate clothing, and medical care. Perks like beer, wine, recreational and religious facilities, and entertainment were provided. Most prisoners were allowed to visit nearby towns.
Prisoners were expected to work as long as it was non-war related due to a labor shortage. Approximately 90% of the Italians POWs volunteered for the Italian Services Unit and worked on Army depots, in arsenals and hospitals, and on farms. Prisoners were paid which allowed them to purchase extras like beer and wine and to take money home after the war. Some prisoners were loyal Nazis and later on in the war segregated into special camps to protect prisoners who the loyalists felt were too friendly with the Americans. Camp Huntsville in Texas and Camp Alva in Oklahoma were two of the first segregated camps for loyal Nazis. Escapes occurred and more than not the prisoners were caught. Two prisoners escaped after the war was over and hid in the US. George Gartner avoided capture for 40 years and turned himself over to authorities in 1985.
After the war, the U.S. began to repatriate all POWs. Some stayed in the US and became citizens while other who were born in the US but conscripted while in Italy and Germany before US involvement were deported to those countries to await their citizenship hearings. Some prisoners did not want to return because they lost their homes to the war or were in soviet controlled areas and some were killed upon return to the Soviet Union. Some POW’s married US citizens. These marriages were not allowed in the US and the women were chaperoned to Italy to marry after which they were allowed to bring their new husbands back to the US.
This was eyeopening for me. I knew about the camps in California and didn’t realize how many others were spread across the US. This has opened up a whole new area of investigation and travel and will I’ll be looking further into this and identifying some spots around the US as part of some future road trips. For now, Camp Michaux is part of my road trip to Knoxville in October and I am really looking forward to this adventure.
Camp New Cumberland
Camp Olmsted Field
Camp McMillan Woods
Indiantown Gap Militay Reservation
Valley Forge Military Hospital
Tobyhanna Military Resevation