Mexia host of POW camp during WWII

The choral theater group was comprised of prisoners of war at Camp Mexia.

Photo courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration/Arnold Krammer

Many today don’t remember the German Prisoner of War Camp built between Mexia and Tehuacana on then U.S. 84 during World War II. It was built to accommodate some of the thousands of General Rommel’s elite Afrika Corps who were captured in the Middle East by British and U.S. Forces.
This was probably the best thing that ever happened to these German soldiers, who received possibly the best care they ever seen before. During the German soldiers stay they were very inventive and made their life more bearable, many very talented and their work remained here for many years after the war. It not unusual to see them doing farm work locally as many from the area left for the cities and defense work.
They were allowed to hire out and were paid by the employer. I don’t remember seeing any armed guard’s with them; I don’t remember any escaping or trying. The U.S. military stationed here were from all areas of our nation, after the war many chose to remain here and make this their home and married in area.
During World War II friend S.D. McLeod and I were home on a Navy leave, there was not much night or social life. We were invited into the U.S. Military Non-Commissioned Officers Club and treated royally.
If memory serves me correctly this was formerly a pre-war Mexia honky tonk named “The Old Mill” or such and had a fake Dutch Windmill on the front. Their hospitality still greatly appreciated. After World War II these accommodations were given to the State of Texas who used them for the Mexia State School.
For many years this was probably the largest employer in the area, some who worked here came from Waco and other areas. Some years ago it was scheduled to be shut down by the state but saved by Governor Ann Richards whom we will always be obligated.

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