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Hitler's Generals in America

Hitler's Generals in America: Nazi POWs and Allied Military Intelligence

Derek R. Mallett
Copyright Date: 2013
Pages: 264
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt5hjz4f
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  • Book Info
    Hitler's Generals in America
    Book Description:

    Americans are familiar with prisoner of war narratives that detail Allied soldiers' treatment at the hands of Germans in World War II: popular books and movies like The Great Escape and Stalag 17 have offered graphic and award-winning depictions of the American POW experience in Nazi camps. Less is known, however, about the Germans captured and held in captivity on U.S. soil during the war.

    In Hitler's Generals in America, Derek R. Mallett examines the evolution of the relationship between American officials and the Wehrmacht general officers they held as prisoners of war in the United States between 1943 and 1946. During the early years of the war, British officers spied on the German officers in their custody, housing them in elegant estates separate from enlisted soldiers, providing them with servants and cooks, and sometimes becoming their confidants in order to obtain intelligence. The Americans, on the other hand, lacked the class awareness shared by British and German officers. They ignored their German general officer prisoners, refusing them any special treatment.

    By the end of the war, however, the United States had begun to envision itself as a world power rather than one of several allies providing aid during wartime. Mallett demonstrates how a growing admiration for the German officers' prowess and military traditions, coupled with postwar anxiety about Soviet intentions, drove Washington to collaborate with many Wehrmacht general officers. Drawing on newly available sources, this intriguing book vividly demonstrates how Americans undertook the complex process of reconceptualizing Germans -- even Nazi generals -- as allies against what they perceived as their new enemy, the Soviet Union.

    eISBN: 978-0-8131-4253-1
    Subjects: History, Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-vii)
  3. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. viii-viii)
  4. Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)

    Discussions of World War II German generals often bring to mind names like Erwin Rommel or Heinz Guderian. Undoubtedly, these men and officers like them played significant roles in the conduct of the war. Scholars have paid less attention to the fates of hundreds of senior German officers taken prisoner by the Allies, with the exception of Wehrmacht officers in Soviet hands, those issuing anti-Nazi propaganda from Russian prisoner-of-war camps being of particular note.

    What seem to have been of least interest are the general officers captured by the Western Allies who spent anywhere from a few months to a...

  5. 1 Afrikaner and Französen
    (pp. 15-52)

    The first large group of German generals to arrive in Allied hands came from the massive German surrender in Tunisia in May 1943. In September 1940 Italian dictator Benito Mussolini initiated a campaign against the British in North Africa. He met with only limited success before British forces drove the Italians out of Egypt and into western Libya by early 1941. In an effort to save his ally, German chancellor Adolf Hitler sent German forces to North Africa under the leadership of General Erwin Rommel, who promptly regained most of the territory the Italians had lost. The subsequent struggle between...

  6. 2 Hitler’s Generals Come to America
    (pp. 53-76)

    While the British hosted theirAfrikanergenerals at stately Trent Park, American authorities originally embarked on a similar process with the four generals sent to the United States in June 1943. Using what they had learned from the combined Anglo-American intelligence efforts in North Africa, U.S. officials initially attempted to emulate British practices. They placed the generals in a lavish environment enhanced with secret microphones and set about gathering information from the newly arrived prisoners.

    The first parcel of Wehrmacht generals to arrive in the United States consisted of Generals Gustav von Vaerst, Karl Bülowius, Willibald Borowietz, and Carl Peter...

  7. 3 The Seeds of the American Transformation
    (pp. 77-106)

    Following the successful Allied invasion of northwest France in June 1944, Washington finally initiated a relationship with its senior German officer prisoners. Driven by a burgeoning sense of imminent victory, American policy makers began thinking ahead to the postwar reconstruction of Europe and what role, if any, the men in their custody might play in that process. Change began slowly.

    Less than two weeks after D-Day, the British realized the need to free space at Trent Park for the many Wehrmacht generals who would likely be captured in the coming months and began transferring some of the generals to American...

  8. 4 Reeducating Hitler’s Generals?
    (pp. 107-132)

    With the prospect of Germany’s defeat on the horizon, Washington finally decided to put its captive enemy generals to use. Generals Gustav von Vaerst, Ludwig Bieringer, Botho Elster, Theodore Graf von Sponeck, and Kurt Freiherr von Liebenstein departed Camp Clinton on March 28, 1945. American personnel drove the prisoners almost 150 miles from the generals’ compound in Mississippi to the newly established officers’ camp outside Dermott, Arkansas.¹ Despite the intention of the Provost Marshal General’s Office to accommodate the most cooperative German generals in a camp that rivaled Britain’s Trent Park, these prisoners found life in Arkansas worse in some...

  9. 5 Cold War Allies
    (pp. 133-168)

    On April 15, 1945, a German U-Boat embarked from Kristiansand on the southern tip of Norway.U-234carried Lieutenant General Ulrich Kessler, the German air attaché and head of the German Air Force liaison staff to Tokyo. Kessler led a “mission of specialists for the purpose of acquainting the Japanese with the latest developments in German radio, radar, V and other weapons, and aircraft and assisting them in reproducing such equipment, weapons, and aircraft for Japanese use.”¹

    En route to Japan,U-234received word of Germany’s unconditional surrender. Following a great deal of discussion about the best course of action,...

  10. Conclusion
    (pp. 169-186)

    Following the end of the war, British and American authorities agreed to hold their highest-ranking Wehrmacht prisoners until some semblance of order could be restored to Germany. Although the U.S. War Department returned all of its German prisoners of war, including all of the general officers, to Europe by the end of June 1946, the prisoners were not allowed to return home. Washington turned some of the generals over to the British and placed the remainder in various hastily established POW camps in Western Europe. London, in turn, established a new camp for German general officers in January 1946 called...

  11. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 187-188)
  12. Appendix A. Wehrmacht General Officer Prisoners of War Held in the United States
    (pp. 189-192)
  13. Appendix B. German Military Document Section Studies (Published)
    (pp. 193-194)
  14. Appendix C. German Military Document Section Studies (Unpublished)
    (pp. 195-196)
  15. Appendix D. Wehrmacht Officer Prisoners of War in the Hill Project (“Hillbillies”)
    (pp. 197-200)
  16. Notes
    (pp. 201-228)
  17. Bibliography
    (pp. 229-236)
  18. Index
    (pp. 237-254)