All Things Maine
All Things Maine

Friday, October 20, 2006

Camp Houlton

German POWs were held in several Maine locations during World War II. Camp Houlton, built on the site of a U.S. Army airfield, was the main site.
The former German POW camp is on the grounds of the town's industrial park. The camp was operational from 1944 to 1946 and once housed thousands of prisoners who picked potatoes, chipped ice and harvested wood to support the Allied troops.

Today, there are just a few relics on the site - mostly concrete foundations that once supported the buildings. A World War II airport control tower, one of the few still standing, is also in the park. [Link]
Branch camps were started at Stark, N.H., Caribou, Seboomook, Spencer Lake (south of Jackman), Presque Isle, Bangor, and Augusta, also at Princeton, Baileyville, Crawford, Dyer Township, and Talmadge in Washington County. POWs in Northern Maine helped with the potato harvest, as these photos from the Maine Memory Network show. In other locations they worked in lumber camps and on road crews. Some prisoners were allowed to take extension and correspondence courses through the University of Maine.

Former POW Hans Kreuger recalled his limited interaction with the townsfolk of Houlton:
There hardly was any direct contact with individual townspeople. Main contacts were, when the POW's were transported to and from. their jobs by open truck through the Town of Houlton. As it is often, when you have a bunch of people together [like POW's who had a kind of happy disposition] they would joke from the truck, make comments or gestures, - especially towards girls. Very often, you got a smile back, or people would wave back, - or others would just ignore the passing truck with a bunch of POW's. However, we never ever noted any hate or condemnation on the part of Houlton people. I personally think, that they are in Houlton, - as all over the United States, - good people, who think fair and are outgoing and friendly. [Link]
Kreuger could remember no escapes from Camp Houlton, but prisoners were known to walk away from the branch camps. One POW, Heinz Jacob, had escaped from Fort Devens in Massachusetts in 1944, and was captured on Boston Common by the FBI after the girl he had arranged to meet turned him in. He tried to escape twice more without success, the third time from the camp at Spencer Lake. He was picked up by a border patrol inspector within a day.

Four POWs returned in 2003 to share memories of their days in Maine. Students at Caribou Regional Technology Center produced a film about their visit called Don't Fence Me In, which was broadcast on MPBN stations in 2004.

3 Comments:

At 2:09 AM, August 28, 2008, Blogger lonleyeagle said...

my name is matthew lewis i would like to know more on the camps off of us route 1 in houlton maine before they turned it into a mobile park

 
At 4:46 PM, January 23, 2009, Blogger remmy212 said...

i heard they were keeping it as a 'camp'. is it a mobile park now?

 
At 2:25 AM, October 20, 2009, Blogger Nick said...

I have read some interesting plans they have for this place....

 

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