Nashville: About 400 letters found in cereal box tell story of WWII German POWs in Tenn.


Letters found in cereal box tell story of WWII POWs in Tenn.


About 400 letters, stuffed inside an old Corn Flakes box, recall the experiences of some of the tens of thousands of prisoners of war who were sent to Tennessee during World War II.

In the late 1980s, Curtis Peters’ sister-in-law in Lawrenceburg found the letters — all from German men who were held at a prison camp near Tennessee’s southern border. The local history buff instantly recognized their significance.

After returning to Germany, the former soldiers wrote back to people they met as POWs with striking affection, sometimes referring to the Tennesseans as “Uncle and Aunt.”

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on August 6, 2015, in First-hand Accounts, WWII and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 72 Comments.

  1. My husband tells me that the same thing happened in Maine. The prisoners helped on the farms. Some of them stayed here or came back.


  2. My state had a number of pow camps for Germans. One of these days I’m going to get around to reading the book on it.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. An extraordinary find, fantastic. It is wonderful to read first hand the relationships that formed during these dark times.
    An historical war find that gives much personal insight into the lives of those POW’s involved.
    A fascinating reading.

    Thanks gp.


  4. What a fascinating read, gpcox. Treasures do survive, don’t they? I wonder how many were able to come back to the states and visit…

    Liked by 1 person

  5. omg. to find such a treasure! Jamie and I were just talking about the war and Guadalcanal (of all things!) today. Naturally, I thought of you. And I agree with “suchled”. Woof! Incorporate this into schools. Your blog is much better than dry history books.


  6. GP, Where on earth do you get all this stuff? By the time you finish I reckon your blog should be printed and published and made compulsory reading for all year 9 and 10 students in every bloody school in Australia and America and Japan and Germany and where ever..

    Liked by 3 people

  7. What a fantastic find! I knew of German POWs keeping in touch with people in Texas, but I never knew of anyone in Tennessee. I wonder what else we will find down the line?


  8. People can get along when ideologies, politics, and religious extremism don’t get in the way.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. What a wonderful story to counteract the horrific ones that occurred far more often. This is what can happen when human-to-human contact is ruled by a moral compass. So heartwarming to hear about this.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Fascinating how these things were just stuffed in a box all this time. How many more records like this are in the same situation.!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Love to hear stories that show the best side of mankind.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I really enjoyed hearing about them finding the letters and a insight into their lives. Very interesting, Everett!


  13. Interesting. It leaves me wondering why we’ve chosen to keep prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, at such great cost. Maybe if they were stateside, and interacted with us, like German POW’s did, they’d develop a similar better impression of Americans.


  14. It does show how many ordinary people would have led very similar lives, had it not been for the war. many Germans remained here after the war ended, with lots of them even marrying local women. They were also generally well-received as farm labourers, and often helped out around the towns and villages close to the camps.
    Perhaps the most famous was Bert Trautmann, a POW who married an English girl, and went on to become the famous goalkeeper for Manchester City Football Club. Here’s an obituary,
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 3 people

  15. Thanks for posting this on your blog. I would never had seen it otherwise. Also those letters were a great find for the human side of the World War Two story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So true. Just how many wars do you think we’d have if it was up to the ordinary working people? I remember the movie, “The Russians are coming! The Russians Are Coming!” everyone ended up working together in the end.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I always liked this quote.
        “If we could read the secret history of our enemies, we should find in each person’s life
        sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility.”
        Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

        To answer your question we would fight very few and then limited wars if it was up to us ordinary working people.

        Liked by 2 people

  16. Thanks for haring that information, which is of special interest to me as a German, albeit post-WWII.
    Habe a great day,

    Liked by 1 person

  1. Pingback: Nashville: About 400 letters found in cereal box tell story of WWII German POWs in Tenn. – Patriot Warrior

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