Reviewed by Anne Boling for Readers' Favorite
The government chose Trinidad, Colorado as the site of a prisoner of war camp in part due to its location and because of the influence of members of Congress. The last time American had prisoners of war on their land was during the Civil War. Twenty three year old, Jewish refugee, Kurt Landsberger was born in Vienna. He came to the United States to escape persecution at the hands of the Nazi. After he joined the Army and he was sent to Trinidad, Colorado as an interpreter for the German prisoners of war. The first prisoners arrived in June, 1943 but the army wasn’t prepared for the problems that would arise. “No army rules for prisoners of war existed at that time.” The prisoners were both enlisted men and officers. The officers were loyal Nazi and attempted to usurp the authority of the guards. The strong supporters of the Nazi were determined to spread their beliefs throughout the camp. The officers demanded that the enlisted men not cooperate with the guards.
Prisoners Of War by Kurt Landsberger is much more than a memoir it contains documentation and interviews depicting life in Camp Trinidad. In my opinion the government was so occupied with the rights of the prisoners they over looked the rights of the United States soldiers. While I would never promote abuse of any kind, the prisoners seemed to have a better life than those guarding them. For some reason as Americans, we are always ready to see ourselves as the bad guys. Kurt Landsberger has brought to light a bit of American history that I for one knew nothing about. He has included photographs, documents, and articles concerning Trinidad and its occupants. He ends the book with pertinent questions concerning the preparedness of the United States Army to deal with this crisis. I found Landsberger’s book, Prisoners Of War informative, easy to read and understand. I intend to pass in on to my husband whose father served in the Marines during WWII. I highly recommend Prisoners Of War to fans of non-fiction and history.