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Camp Howze Museum

Anti/Pro-Nazi Conflict

Within the prisoner of war camps during World War II, there was occasional conflict between the German prisoners. Some POWs were unwilling to let go of their faith in Hitler, and remained loyal to him even though they had been imprisoned. Many of the camps throughout Texas dealt with this issue, and there is evidence that Camp Howze was no different. Even though the relationship between the prisoners of war and the guards is usually remembered fondly and the prisoners were considered low risk, there was still conflict present within the camp. 

General practice for Texas POW camps was that, upon arriving, the German POWs would be searched for tattoos to determine their ranking in the German military.  These tattoos specified rank and direct involvement with the Nazi party. Often the higher-ranked German prisoners would try to overtake the rest of the prisoners, which could result in defying the guards. For example, at Camp Howze,  45 of the most dangerous Nazis were transfered to another camp, making the anti-Nazis the majority, but those Nazis who were left remained in control. However, when the prisoners were defiant or uncooperative, they would be punished accordingly, usually with worse food options -- usually stale bread--, worse beds to sleep on, and fewer privileges. 

The anti-Nazi prisoners faced the possibility of violence if they did not abide by what the higher-ranked pro-Nazi prisoner commanded. A possible example of this would be Johann Kaup, a former German soldier placed in the POW camp at Camp Howze. He is said to have died of asphyxiation by strangulation, which was ruled a suicide. 

Often there would be threats against anti-Nazi prisoners who did not wish to follow the pro-Nazi leaders. This could result in “suicides” of anti-Nazis and, as such, some of these prisoners would want to be transferred out of the camps to escape the risk of danger. On occasion, the pro-Nazi leaders would be transferred to another camp as well.  

Despite all of this, it is important to note that Camp Howze was considered a "low risk" prisoner of war camp. As such this type of conflict was less common than in other POW camps in Texas.  However, that is not to say that it did not occur nor that there was no conflict of any kind.