Narratives are personal stories that help enrich the reader’s understanding of a time period, person, place, or event. These are first-person views of history taken from personal recollections, memoirs, diaries, and oral histories.

Information included in this section is not fact checked by the Encyclopedia staff. The author of the Narrative is entirely responsible for its content.

My father was a German POW in Camp Robinson. He worked in the kitchens and spoke about being very well treated there. He got paid and bought bits of Mexican silver. He had visits and presents from his American uncle from New York who had come to the States in the 1930s (although a treasured pair of gloves he received were "confiscated" as the POWs were being shipped back to Europe).
He also told me that at some time he worked picking cotton. He said some POWs worked in the local cotton mills, but when there were a number of "suspicious" fires, they were not allowed to work in the mills anymore. The fires continued, however. My dad told me that some of the cotton-picking prisoners were breaking off match heads and stuffing them in the bales. When the cotton reached the cotton gins, the matches ignited. They were just wild kids. My dad had his twenty-first birthday there.
The POWs were actually kept in camps in England for another three years after the war had ended. 

Peter Grimmer
Burnaby, B.C. Canada, 

My father, Grant Harold Collar Sr., was the farm manager for R. C. Langston who owned a plantation at and around Rosa, AR, a few miles north of Luxora. He was half-German and had studied German at Arkansas State Teachers College and had a working knowledge of the language. He was one of the first to "employ" the German POWs to work on the Langston farm. He discovered quickly that a very small lunch was sent out from the camp--too small for people to do a lot of work. We had a company store at Rosa, and Dad would take a whole bologna, bread, crackers, etc., out to the field at lunchtime each day. He developed a relationship with some of the Germans that lasted for decades through letters. I am proud of my dad for treating them like men. They responded by never giving a minute's trouble and working diligently.

Jerome Kahler (Collar)
Little Rock, AR

My father (Billy Lee Mick Sr.) told me that he was a water boy for German prisoners. Not sure of any other information, but he did tell me that they were nice to him. He passed away in 1985. I do know that he attended high school in Blytheville, Arkansas. I assumed that the prisoners were close to that area or working there.

Martha Mick
Lewisville, TX

In 2001, I hosted an Austrian librarian who was on an exchange. When asked what he wanted to see, he said, “a cotton field.” It turns out that his father was a conscript in the German army and had spent time in a POW camp in Arkansas. He said his father often spoke of the heat and dust. He hated picking “plant wool,” which is how the librarian described cotton.
The Italian POW camps have not been very well studied, as far as I know. Prof. Bill Shea at UA–Monticello has written and spoken on POW camps in Arkansas. He tells a really funny story about how the newly arrived Italian POWs at Monticello were disappointed that there were no “mountains” in Monticello. Also, they were downright offended when they went to the only music store in Monticello and could not locate any operas by Verdi.
Tom Dillard
Fayetteville, AR

 I grew up in southwest Arkansas. I was born in Nashville in Howard County on July 27, 1934, and recall the prisoners working in the timber industry during WWII. I don’t recall ever seeing one of them but we knew they were in the area between Nashville and Murfreesboro. On July 4, 1944, I recall having a couple of nickels and wanted to buy a Coke. There were none to be found. We were told that all were taken to the Germans that week. There is a Coca-Cola plant in Nashville.
Ralph E. Balch
Morrilton, AR