During World War II, many brave Bastrop men answered the call to arms, but some may not know that Bastrop was involved with the war in another way, through a prisoner of war camp, the building of which started this week in 1944.
The Bastrop Enterprise announced in the August 17, 1944 edition that work had begun on a prisoner of war camp located on Cooper Lake Road. The camp housed war prisoners, mostly German, in tents with box floors. Five dormitories left from the Northeast Junior College served as the mess halls and kitchens. The first prisoners arrived around September 1, 1944.
Prisoners worked for local farmers picking cotton for $1.50 per hundred pounds. The prisoners kept 80 cents of this, and the rest went to the government.
The camp was surrounded by wire fencing, and there was one guard for every ten prisoners. Even with the number of guards, prisoners did get loose.
Two prisoners, Fritz Haede and Hans Joachim Feidler managed to escape the camp on June 7 between 1 and 6 o'clock in the morning. It is thought they may have climbed over the wire somehow. They were caught two days later at the Missouri Pacific Railway Yards in Alexandria trying to catch a train. They were sent to officials at the army prison headquarters at Camp Livingston nearby.
Today there is no trace of the Bastrop camp, but some older locals still have memories of the place and the young soldiers imprisoned so far from home.