German WWII POWs were housed in Pike County

Published 5:42 pm Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Approximately 16,000 German prisoners of war made Alabama their home during World War II.  The first camps were constructed by the Army Corps of Engineers during 1942-1943.  Camp Aliceville in Pickens County was the largest POW camp in Alabama with a capacity for 6,000 prisoners.  Pike County had a POW camp at the Fair Ground based on these articles from the Troy Messenger from 1943-1945.

Dianne Smith

Dianne Smith

Due to the shortage of farm labor in Pike County, the War Department has established a temporary camp for prisoners of war in Troy to help harvest the peanut crop.

     Farmers who do not have adequate help to harvest their peanuts and have been unable to find extra help within the community of county should make application for prisoners of war.  Applications for prisoners of war are being received at the County Agent’s office in the Activities Building.  The time for filing application and allotting the workers is limited and farmers desiring this type of labor must file application at once.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox


     County Agent H. J. Carter said today that 250 German war prisoners are due to arrive in Troy today and will be quartered at the Fair Ground, the same place that was used last year when about 400 prisoners were sent here.

     U. S. Senator Lister Hill and Congressman George M. Grant wired this paper today that “500 additional war prisoners are being sent into the peanut area at once.”  Senator ill’s message stated that “I have insisted that 2,000 more war prisoners be furnished immediately for our peanut farmers.”

     Some parts of the peanut bely have been declared as an “emergency areas” and it is expected that the war department will send additional prisoners at once to those areas where peanut gathering is in full blast.


     The County Agent attended a meeting at Enterprise with all County Agents of the peanut counties, and at this time the Agent requested 1,250 Prisoners of War for Pike County to assist in the peanut harvest.  The Extension Service is doing everything possible to secure enough prisoners of war to take care of the needs of Pike County farmers.


     Pike County has been allotted 450 Prisoners of war to assist in the harvesting of the peanut crop.  The county agent requested 1,250 and is on the opinion that it will take the above amount if the peanut crop is to be harvested without a loss.  A survey has shown that the County has planted approximately 75,000 acres of peanuts.  In talking to farmers over the County, it is their opinion that farm labor is the shortest it has been since the war started.  Every farmer in the County who will need Prisoners of War should do what he can to help the County secure more prisoners of war for harvesting peanuts.


     Peanut crops in Pike County are being harvested by labor imported from Germany—under the watchful eyes of Japanese-American guard from Hawaii.

     When Rev. S. M. Baker, of the First Methodist Church, conducts religious services this Sunday at the Prisoner of War Camp near Troy, his sermon will be  translated into German but not into Japanese.  “Speak American” has been their slogan in the Islands and American is all they understand or want to be.

     All of these articles can be found in previous editions of The Troy Messenger.  Stay tuned for more.  Dianne Smith is the President of the Pike County Historical, Genealogical and Preservation Society.