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Prisoners of War

During World War II, a series of Prisoner of War (POW) camps were established throughout the United States. From 1943 through 1946, Colorado had 48 Prisoner of War Camps. Generally, the POWs interned in Colorado worked in agricultural areas that were experiencing labor shortages. The major camps in the state were located at Trinidad, Colorado Springs, and Greeley and the accommodations took a variety of forms from school gymnasiums to warehouses. The United States government paid the prisoners with coupons that could be used to purchase goods such as toothpaste, razor blades, and tobacco. In addition, officers received $20-$40 per month depending upon rank, and enlisted men were awarded ten cents per day.

The German Prisoners of War confined at Camp Hale were at the center of a series of scandals that rocked the base. On March 7, 1944, the Denver Post reported that military official had seized three or four stills and 40-50 gallons of liquor. More shocking to the American people were two episodes that involved collusion, friendship, and treasonous acts by military personnel at Camp Hale.

The most famous scandal at the based occurred when Private Dale Maple of the 620th General Engineering Corps enabled two German POWs to escape. Maple, at times identified as a Naziphile, after making friends with the Germans, helped them escape to the Mexican border. He was subsequently arrested by Mexican immigration officials and court-martialed for treason. Maple's death sentence was changed to life in prison.

From the perspective of the Women's Army Corps, a scandal involving a group of WACs brought shame to the detachment. In 1944, at approximately the time Private Dale Maple facilitated the escape of the two POWs, five WACs were charged with writing secret notes to the Nazi prisoners. Privates Frances C. Bundorf, Florence C. Pechon, and Marguerite L. Franklin were court-martialed, and two other WACs awaited military action. The reactions on the base ranged from that the women had committed "spring time indiscretion" to that they were guilty of fraternization with the enemy.

Newspaper Articles

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