Dr. James Van Keuren
WWII POW Camps in Ohio
ABOUT THIS EPISODE
On episode 43 of Veteran Voices: The Oral History Podcast, we talk with James Van Keuren about his book, World War II POW Camps in Ohio. Drawing on first-person accounts from soldiers, former POWs and residents, as well as archival research, Dr. Van Keuren delves into the neglected history of Ohio’s POW camps.
During the 1940s, more than six thousand prisoners of war resided at nine camps in Ohio. The Italian POWs arrived first, charming “the locals with their affable, easygoing natures, while their German successors often put on a serious, intractable front.”
Some local residents fondly recall working alongside the prisoners and reuniting with them later in life. Others held the prisoners in disdain, feeling that they were coddled while natives struggled with day-to-day needs.
This podcast episode was recorded March 24, 2020 in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. Host: Kevin Farkas. Guest: James Van Keuren. Audiography: Kevin Farkas/The Social Voice Project. Music (available on SoundCloud.com): Raccoon Uniforms (“Silver Linings”), Amoebacrew (“Light Indie Rock”), Gianpiero Lupoli (“Rebirth”). Addition audio (available on YouTube.com): Texas Historical Commission (“Nazi POW Camp in Texas”), TheTigerNextDoor (“Italian prisoners of war in the USA – documentary film Prisoners in Paradise”), OTIS! (“WHY YOU’RE STUPID TO NOT STUDY HISTORY”). ©Veteran Voices: The Oral History Podcast/The Social Voice Project. All rights reserved.
World War II POW Camps in Ohio
During World War II, more than six thousand prisoners of war resided at Camp Perry near Port Clinton and its branch camps at Columbus, Rossford, Cambridge, Celina, Bowling Green, Defiance, Marion, Parma and Wilmington. From the start, the camps were a study in contradictions. The Italian prisoners who arrived first charmed locals with their affable, easygoing natures, while their German successors often put on a serious, intractable front. Some local residents fondly recall working alongside the prisoners and reuniting with them later in life. Others held the prisoners in disdain, feeling that they were coddled while natives struggled with day-to-day needs. Drawing on first-person accounts from soldiers, former POWs and residents, as well as archival research, Dr. Jim Van Keuren delves into the neglected history of Ohio’s POW camps.
Dr. James Van Keuren is a retired professor of educational administration and dean of the Dwight Schar College of Education at Ashland University, as well as a former high school teacher, principal and superintendent. He has published numerous peer-reviewed articles, and his most recent book, A Tribute to the 109th Evacuation Hospital (SM), traces his father-in-law’s service during World War II. Van Keuren has been married to his wife, Pat, for forty-nine years, and they have two daughters, Michelle (Drew) Scott and Christie (Dale) Murdoch, in addition to grandchildren Hailey Scott, Weston Murdoch and Cooper Murdoch.
A former U.S. military prison guard and a former Nazi prisoner of war both describe their experiences at Camp Hearne during World War II. This video was produced for our heritage travel app, Texas Time Travel Tours. The mobile app features statewide thematic tours focusing on a variety of time periods and cultures in Texas history
During World War II more than 51,000 Italian soldiers were brought to the United States as Prisoners of War. “Prisoners in Paradise,” traces the previously untold story of these young men, their romances and friendships with American women, and their significant — but unrecognized — contribution to the Allied war effort.
ABOUT THE PODCAST
The Veteran Voices: The Oral History Podcast features conversations with those who tell veterans’ stories in creative and interesting ways, such as oral historians, authors, poets, playwrights, and photographers. This podcast is a production of The Social Voice Project, Inc., dedicated to understanding the voices and stories of our lives through the first-hand, authentic accounts of lived experiences we call oral histories. The podcast was formerly produced by the Veteran Voices of Pittsburgh Oral History Initiative, a veteran-run, award-winning 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational organization based in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
Host Kevin Farkas is a US Navy veteran and independent multimedia producer specializing in creative sound design and audio engineering. He has produced several audiobooks, radio dramas, live storytelling events, a podcast network, videos, as well as print and digital media publications.
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