Sunday, June 1, 2014

Reeducation Camp for German POWs in RI

According to North Kingstown historian and author, Walter Schroder, the Fort Getty and Fort Wetherill complex was a very special one in the USA.  In his book  Defenses of Narragansett Bay in World War II, on page 114, he writes:   Fort Getty played a role in “the most long range and idealistic POW reeducation efforts ever undertaken by the United States.”  In mid 1945, the School of Administration and soon thereafter the Army School Center was established at Fort Getty. This was part of an effort to utilize “handpicked Germans to assist military government officials and military police in carrying out their duties in occupied Germany after the war.” (Schroder p.115)
At Fort Getty, “the vacant Army Station Hospital that had been built in 1941 was used as an education complex.” (Schroder p.115)  

An overview of the Master plan for Fort Getty (2005) on the Island of Jamestown mentions the above, as well as the following:   The POW students were treated as civilians and security was minimal. Among other activities, the prisoners of war built the stone gate at the entry to the park.
By the end of 1945 however, the re-education efforts were reduced and the school at Ft. Getty was closed."

This clip is interesting for several reasons.  The cameraman certainly gets in the way, especially in the first half.  The final 5 minutes involves a discussion between the professor -- and the POWs.

The three fundamental topics include:
   1.  Separation of the military and the civil;
   2.  Separation of church and state;
   3.  Elevation of the Judiciary above every other governmental branch.

"Your problems are our problems.  We're not here to propagandize you, but to enlighten you if we can....  I am open to further instruction, for I am here to learn as well as you."

Do you have a favorite quote from this footage?   

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