|Obergefreiter Hermann Klink, part 2|
|In March 1946, Herr Klink traveled by train back to NJ and landed in Antwerp. Liked most POWs, though, he spent until Jan 47 doing "retribution work" in Great Britain instead of returning to Germany, a controversial program which greatly angered the POWs. Like many, he and his shipmates were not told until they weren't going home until they were aboard ship. On return to Germany, he married his girlfriend - who had kept every one of his letters! These letters and his diary helped him write his life story a few years ago. Herr Klink became a teacher of English and German, and retired in 1983.
Interestingly, I met Herr Klink through an American veteran, Russ Ruch of the 159th Combat Engineer Battalion. Herr Klink's grandson is a Lutheran pastor in Pennsylvania, and suggested Mr Ruch write his grandfather a letter. The two old soldiers began writing back and forth in spring 2008, and now chat on the phone frequently.
|In May 1943, Herr Klink surrendered to the British 1st Army and began a three year stint as a POW. He was transported to Hoboken NJ in August 1943, arriving in a hall staffed by "hundreds of US soldiers, all speaking German". At 2300 the same night he departed via train on a three day trip to Pine Bluffs Arkansas. During his captivity, at different times he ran the camp canteen, clerked for a US Major, and worked with a team of twelve pipelayers. The segregation and racism of the South shocked him, and he remembered his US supervisor explaining "white" and "colored" signs to him. "Never forget, Hermann, you are a white man", he remembers being told. Toward the end of the war, Herr Klink said conditions worsened in his POW camp as news of the death camps arrived. "They took away the ice cream, the Coca Cola, it wasn't a good time", he remembered.|
|Lt. Gen. Erwin Rommel, the "Desert Fox". Obergrf. Klink worked in the HQ in Tripoli.|
|This photo shows German POWs in 1944 enroute from Boston to a POW camp in the USA. At least 375,000 German POWs spent time in over 600 established POW camps in the US, not including hundreds of small "branch camps" close to where they worked in agriculture, manufacturing, forestry, and public works projects. If you're interested in reading more on this subject, contact me for an email copy of my 2005-2008 research project "Close to Home: WWII German Prisoners of War in Wells County Indiana". Thanks, Herr Klink, for sharing your story!|
|Read Herr Klink's report of his Baumholder training in his own words here|