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Camp Howze Museum

Daily Life

With the shortage of labor due to the war, the German prisoners of war were often the best option for businesses looking for workers in Gainesville and other nearby communities. The POWs were used for agriculture work, chores around Camp Howze like laundry and maintenance, washing cars, road construction, picking up trash in Howzeville, and various other chores. As for jobs, some prisoners were employed as carpenters or worked in shoe repair. Once, in February of 1945, the prisoners were used to help clean up the city after a bad ice storm. The German prisoners were paid for their work, sometimes with POW canteen tickets, which could be used to purchase different items at their canteen.  The prisoners at Camp Howze were granted some liberties such as sending and receiving mail, especially since they were considered to be "low risk" compared to some of the other POW camps in the state of Texas. Additionally, the prisoners were able to request German-language newspapers or journals to read while they were at Camp Howze. The freedoms that were granted to the prisoners were often better than what the minority soldiers were allowed to partake in.

The POWs lived a relatively normal life in the camp, working jobs, socializing, and maintaining relationships with people from the surrounding area. There is even mention in the Denton Record-Chronicle of POWs raising money for the Red Cross to send to Europe for "the welfare of all European children." There were only a few rare occasions of Howze POWs trying to escape, but overall, they were happy to stay at the camp. Some former prisoners of war even returned to Gainesville later on in life.

The POWs were also mentioned in various newspaper articles during this time which highlighted what they did in the community and surrounding area while at Camp Howze. 

During the war years, while there was a prisoner of war camp at Camp Howze, some local teenagers thought it would be fun to dress up as POWs. The POWs wore uniforms with PW on them which indicated that they were a prisoner of war. As such, teenagers at the time decided to stencil "PW" on their clothing pretending to be German prisoners of war. This spooked the locals and caused them to report German POWs being seen around town. The teenagers were reprimanded for causing fear and warned that pretending to be "escaped" prisoners of war could cause military personnel to shoot them.

In addition to all the work that the POWs did on a daily basis, they also had access to recreational activities such as sports. In the Camp Howze Howizter, there are various articles that mention the prisoners of war playing softball or baseball against military units stationed at Camp Howze.  There is discussion of the lineup of the POWs to play the Detachment team and then "the ball team" winning against the POW camp leading up to the championship. These recreational activities show more of the freedoms that were provided to the prisoners at Camp Howze.