They may be far from their homeland but have not been forgotten.
After WWII when Prisoner of War (POW) camps closed in Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma, the POWs who died in captivity were reinterred at Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio, Texas. One hundred thirty-two Germans, five Italians, three Japanese, and one Austrian are buried there. If the families of the deceased POWs survived the war and could be located, they would have been given the opportunity to repatriate the remains back to their home country.
Story One. Johnny Barrientez, Lead Cemetery Representative at the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery, has worked there for 38 years. About 25 years ago (early 1990s) he noticed a gentleman in the POW section and walked over to see if he could be of assistance. The gentleman, a German, had travelled from Germany to Texas to visit his brother’s grave. He knew his brother had been a POW and buried in the United States (US), but it had taken him some time to locate his resting place. The German talked about his brother and showed Johnny pictures of himself and his brother in their German uniforms. Another cemetery employee, an American WWII veteran, also walked over, and the two men exchanged thoughts about the war and fighting for their countries. In the end, after seeing the cemetery and the care given to all the graves there, the German man decided he would leave his brother buried in the US.
Story Two. Corporal Hugo Krauss was born in Germany in 1920. Hugo, his mother, and sister joined his father, Heinrich, in New York City, New York, in 1929. Heinrich had immigrated to the US in 1928. In 1939 Hugo travelled back to Germany to visit relatives and was there when Germany invaded Poland on September 1, 1939. Trapped in Germany, at some point Hugo became a member of the German Army (Wehrmacht). He was captured during the North African Campaign and was sent to a POW camp (Camp Hearne) in Texas. With his fluency in English and German he became an interpreter. As the story is told, some of his fellow German prisoners thought he had become too friendly with the Americans. On the evening of December 17, 1943, he was severely beaten by Nazi POWs and died on December 23, 1943.
Story One as told to me by Johnny Barrientez. I want to thank him for his help in the research for this story.
Thank you to G. L. Lamborn for assistance in the German translation on the tombstone.