Aliceville is holding a World War II prisoner of war (POW) camp reenactment this weekend.
During World War II, Aliceville was the home to a POW camp where captured Germans were housed.
“On the afternoon of June 2, 1943, the whole town of Aliceville turned out to watch the first group of German Prisoners of War (POWs) arrive at the Frisco Railroad Depot on 3rd Avenue,” the reenactors said in a statement. “The prisoners exited the train and were marched down Alabama Highway 17 to the camp southwest of town, now the site of the Aliceville Industrial Park. Existing from 1942 through 1945, the Aliceville POW Camp was one of the largest in the USA, housing 6,150 POWs and 1200 American Army personnel at its peak.”
“To commemorate the arrival of the first POWs nearly 80 years ago, and to celebrate Aliceville’s major contribution to the war effort, reenactors portraying German POWs, American MPs and Alabama State Troopers will present a period accurate recreation of the WWII camp during the weekend of May 13-15, 2022.”
Between 75 and 100 military reenactors from across the southeast are expected to participate in this weekend’s events.
The grandson of a former POW is traveling from Germany to attend.
The event is sponsored by the Aliceville Museum, in partnership with the City of Aliceville and the Aliceville Area Chamber of Commerce.
Reenactor Brien McWilliams explained that a reenactment is something like a play, during which the participants immerse themselves in the period or event being recreated to portray it as accurately as possible.
Attendees are encouraged get into the spirit of the event by wearing 1940s period attire and may communicate with the reenactors through the fence as they carry on their daily activities.
Festivities began Friday night with the screening of the 1941 Gary Cooper film, “Sergeant York.”
Beginning at 9:00 am on Saturday, May 14, the reenactors will arrive at the former site of the Aliceville Frisco depot at the railroad crossing on 3rd Avenue NW and will commence the march along Highway 17 South to the site of the original camp as spectators look on.
At 10:00 am, there will be an official event kick-off and welcome ceremony near the Historic Marker at the Aliceville Industrial Park on Highway 17, a little over a mile southwest of the city. From there, the reenactors will proceed to the mock POW Camp site along Memorial Parkway at the Broad Street intersection across from the Aliceville Museum, where, from 10:30am until 5:00 pm, they will engage in a variety of activities depicting camp life.
From 6:00 to 10:00 pm on Saturday there will be a USO Dinner Dance at the Aliceville City Hall at 419 Memorial Parkway, featuring swing music by the Ed Jones Orchestra for listening and dancing. The meal will be catered by Judi King’s Savory Solutions. Tickets to the Dinner Dance are $15 each and may be obtained either at the Aliceville Museum or online.
On Sunday, the reenactors will continue their recreation of scenes from daily life at the camp from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm. The scenarios will include an escape attempt, athletic competitions and a parole of the POWs.
To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email brandon.moseley@1819News.com.
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