Details conditions in Alabama and the role of its citizens in a time of military crisis unknown since the Civil War
Alabama and its people played a conspicuous role in World War II. Not only were thousands of servicemen trained at military facilities in the state—at Fort McClellan, Camp Rucker, Camp Sibert, Maxwell Air Field, and Tuskegee Army Air Field—but Axis prisoners of war were interned in camps on Alabama soil. The state of Alabama held a significant number of these prisoners, over seventeen thousand in four camps across the state: Camp Aliceville, Camp Opelika, Fort McClellan, and Fort Rucker. This study focuses on Camp Aliceville and Camp Opelika which provide a sample that frames and highlights the national prisoner of war program. Through this example, one can see the lasting legacy of the prisoner of war program and its role in transforming the United States and forever changing the lives of thousands of prisoners, guards, and local citizens. An analysis of the Alabama camps also reveals how memory is constructed and how one narrative can ultimately emerge as the dominant story. In addition, a survey of the landscape reveals the importance of place and its role in the process of remembering and forgetting.