WW II, a British focus  



Mrs. Eva Martha Knapp, with her 10th grade class, is researching Work Camp #7, in Dade City, Florida, a branch of Camp Blanding, Florida. The class was able to contact several ex-POW's who have returned to the site of their imprisonment. If you or anyone you know was a prisoner in this camp please contact her emgk@tingley.net The following is a letter they have received from Ludeke Herder to Eva Knapp , 9 January 1992.

Dear Mrs. Knapp & Dear Students,

I decided to let all work and other things wait and to do my best to get this letter written, so that you and your students can finish the research about the POW camp in Dade City.

At first let me say thank you very much for your letter, the letter of your students, and the copies of the interviews with local people by students and about your telephone interview with my friend, Mr. Bill Cox. And now a few words to the statement of Bill:

1) McDonald's Mine. POW'S were at the mine to help make bricks for the new fertilizer plant at Pasco. Local people, your Mr. Bobby Meadows was right, on flat- bed trucks ( from Pasco Packing) with the same color like today (red), the Germans were brought to Brooksville. The same trucks brought us to Lacoochee and Pasco, too.

2) Escaping of POW'S Our artist didn't escape, unknown to me. But two white POW'S escaped by box-car for a few hours. Ok, the guard and Bill Cox figured out, we are short of two POW'S. After FBI and the police (SHERIFF) from Dade City were at the saw mill, what a mess in such a silent village and our guard was running through the sawmill, too. the clever sheriff ( I guess it was a friend of Bill Cox) said, dammed, bring all the stuff from the beds (blankets,etc) of these two guys to the sawmill, especially to that place, where the two were working. The sheriff was sly and a police dog found a track from this place to a place, where empty little carriages stood, to bring the lumber from the saw to the box car. Now its hard to ....with, or on, or by such a car other POW'S pushed them to the box car. But the police dog understood his profession and showed them all the way and how they got into the car. I for myself, I didn't know about the escaping, only a few did know it so I've heard later. As the sheriff found them somewhere, somebody tried to put them in handcuffs, but one of the prisoners said, "We are prisoners of War and we thought to get home, isn't it a shame?" The sheriff brought them without handcuffs to our camp and later to Camp Blanding. But the mulatto, Edmund was his name, he was an honest boy, and did not escape. For years now I'm trying to find him here in Germany, my friend Bill would like to know what he is doing today. He was the only black POW I know.

After 28 or 30 days arrest at Camp Blanding they came back to Dade City, but not allowed to work outside of the barbed wire anymore.

3) a few words to Tampa Lutheran Church. From a Roman -Catholic boarding school I think it was St. Leo or so was his name, a Catholic priest came to our Camp every Sunday for a worship and on weekdays for a dialog or conversations. The same did an Evangelical priest, but I don't know where he came from, perhaps Tampa, but I'm not sure. Well, I'm protestant and on holidays like Christmas, it was allowed for prisoners to go to a church at Tampa to have a worship there, together with our guards and by trucks from Pasco-Packing. And now my story and you understand why I like Dade City or Florida and its people there.

On Christmas day we could go to a Protestant- Lutheran church in Tampa, to have a wonderful worship there. Our guards were inside the church too, without guns. After the worship, our guard told us to leave the church through the same door, like we came in, but the vicar told us to go through the door at the side of the church. Our guard was mad, but allowed us to take the other door, for we've Christmas. As we came through the small door, we've been in a room with tables, the people gave us cakes, candy and coffee and it was a wonderful Christmas day and I never can forget such a kind gesture. During my last visit in Florida, together with our friends from Ocala, we went through Tampa to find the church, but it was in vain. Perhaps somebody from your students has a line to Lutheran Church in Tampa and can find the church, perhaps you can find the church when I tell you, the vicar came to our camp, his parish collected books for us, the most of them in German. One thing I know, the vicar told us, a lot of these books he has received from the relations from a brewery owner in Tampa, who came from Germany long ago. Busch? Perhaps you can find the church and you can understand, why I would like to see again this church in Tampa.

4) To the sentence about the cupcakes, pies and point p231 ( the very informative book) about general conditions in POW camps. Not allow the US citizens, we Germans too in American POW camps, we saw the movies about the full horror of the Concentration Camps in Germany. I was shocked and my friends, too. Well, it's true, after the war was over, our diet was cut even more drastically. Well, no Germans starved, but nearly all of them lost weight, me too. So our American friends saw it at our workplace, they gave us to eat. For example, the big fireplace in the saw mill, Mr. Luther was working there to keep the fire burning, the whole year over. In the breaks, white or black worker came to that place to smoke a cigarette there. Also their wives came to this place with the lunch. From an older negro, his wife came with his lunch, and I got my lunch, too. During my visits, twice I was searching for this black guy, I don't know his name, his wife said only, take it and eat, you could be my son, he is somewhere in Europe. Mr. Luther is dead, but he lived in hotel in front of the sawmill, but there are a lot of blacks in Lacoochee. Too bad, but I would like to meet him today.

Dear Mrs. Knapp, dear students, its late now and I think it's enough for today. In next day, I start to answer the questions of you students all.

Ludeke Herder.