FORT BRAGG, N.C., November 29, 2018 --U.S. Soldiers and German military liaisons assigned to units at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, remember eight foreign soldiers with a graveside wreath laying ceremony. The U.S. Army Special Operations Command hosted the memorial, Nov. 29, 2018.
During World War II, Fort Bragg served as a prisoner of war camp housing between two and three-thousand foreign soldiers at the height of its activity, according to the North Carolina Museum of History. It originally opened in 1942, however was temporarily shut down then re-opened as a permanent camp in 1944. By the spring of 1946, most foreign prisoners of war were sent back to Europe and POW camps were closed.
Prisoners worked on the installation to help develop roads and local farmland. According to the U.S. National Archive lists recorded by the Office of the Quartermaster General, five POW's housed on Fort Bragg and three from other North Carolina military installations passed away, due to disease and work related accidents. They were laid to rest at the Fort Bragg Main Post Cemetery.
Their gravestones sit 10 feet offset from American markers as required by Army regulation. Six of the soldiers were of German decent, one of Austrian decent, and one of Yugoslavian decent.
Lt. Col. Markus Stobbe, USASOC German liaison officer, reflected on the post-war changes between Germany and America.
"The reason why we are here today is to pause and remember all victims of war and violence, but especially those eight German Prisoners of War, who are buried here side by side with American Soldiers."
Stobbe noted that although we were enemies 75 years ago, today we fight against common enemies as allies in order to defend freedom.
"Standing here on a military cemetery, which is a monument and symbol that reminds us of the consequences of war, violence and terrorism underlines this fact. At the same time, they also represent hope for forgiveness and brotherhood, and these eight German POW's are a testimony to it. God bless our countries."
This year marks the 17th such service to remember these fallen troops.
The ceremony date coincides with Germany's annual national memorial observances that honor fallen soldiers, victims of war and those who lost their lives due to race, religion or political beliefs.