Friday, April 22, 2005

The Words Behind the Motivation

Last night I attended a lecture at my university. My advisor kindly had emailed me a notice of the lecture a few weeks ago, and I was very glad I was able to attend (thank you to my husband for watching the kids!). Prof. Hayes from Northwestern University spoke on German big business and their role in the Holocaust. Wow. What an eye-opener.

For my MA thesis in History, I wrote about the German POW Camp at Fort Robinson, Nebraska, during World War II. Lots of people still do not know that America housed tens of thousands of German and Italian POWs during the War. Even less well known is the denazification program the American government implemented to try and erase Nazism from the German soldiers' minds.

I stumbled into this particular field. I had hoped to focus on the eighteenth century for my graduate work, but it turns out that the particular field I was interested in wasn't represented by anyone in my department. After taking a class from one of my professors on Nazi Germany, I became absolutely enthralled. I had been interested in it before, but I think the fact that my great-uncles were involved in World War II and my father and two brothers were also WWII history buffs just jump-started my interest even more.

Combing through primary documents for my thesis was wonderful. I even had the chance to read a diary from a German officer - thankfully translated into English - that offered so much insight into life at the POW camp that I wanted to use everything. Of course, one cannot do that.

At any rate, I'm now excited to return to the world of the POW and I hope to record this tiny slice of history for future generations. It's an overlooked subject for many people and I hope to change that.

12 comments:

  1. During WWII they housed Japanese POWs at the L.A. County fairgrounds. The barracks are still standing and are used for storage.

    The Italian POWs were put in my hometown and worked in the grape fields. Many of them stayed after the war and built up a small Italian community.

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