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Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hogan's Heroes? Not Quite!

Yesterday, a Meebo patron inquired as to whether or not Butts Park in Clinton is located at the site of a long-forgotten German POW camp. After some initial searching, I contacted Mike Allard, local Clinton historian. According to Mr. Allard, Butts Park is directly west of and abuts the former Camp Clinton. Here are a few fast facts:
  • Clinton was actually the site of one of four POW camps in Mississippi during World War II. The others were Camp Como, Camp McCain (near Grenada), and Camp Shelby (New Southern View).
  • It was actually more cost effective to ship the POWs to Mississippi rather than keep them in Africa. That's because instead of trying to ship supplies to both their troops and prisoners, they could fill their empty supply ships with prisoners and send them stateside (MS History).
  • General Hans-J├╝rgen Von Arnim, Hitler's replacement for Rommel, was one of the 3,400 POWs at Clinton. It is rumored that he used his car and driver (Ahh! The perks of being a general!) to escape to the one place in the surrounding area with air conditioning: the Jackson movie theatre (New Southern View).
  • The enlisted prisoners in Clinton were paid 80 cents an hour to build a mile square working model of the Mississippi River Basin (MS History). The model was in use until the late 1980s/early 1990s, when the Corps of Engineers moved to sole use of their model in Vicksburg (Allard).
In the early 1970s, the camp was declared surplus and eventually given to Mississippi College. The site of the model was given to the city of Clinton.

I now have the irresistible urge to read The Summer of My German Soldier. I wonder why!

Allard, Mike. Personal interview. 10 Aug. 2010.

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