It's a largely forgotten piece of Alabama history unless you were one of the 1,000 employees who worked there or the 6,000-plus prisoners who were "encamped" there. Or one of their families. Or one of the Aliceville residents nearby.

The largest prisoner of war camp in the United States was in Pickens County, just west of Tuscaloosa, outside of the small town of Aliceville. Of 425,000 enemy soldiers imprisoned in over 500 POW camps inside the United States, 6,000 of them were interned in Aliceville. The "camp" covered over 800 acres. The prisoners were mostly but not all German.

Camp Aliceville.

On June 2, 1943, the first train carrying POWs who had been captured in North Africa arrived in Aliceville. Many of the prisoners were from Field Marshall Erwin Rommel's elite Africakorp. Later, prisoners captured in Europe (primarily in France) arrived in the camp.

Fast forward to 2024. Little remains of the camp. There is a historical marker near what was the camp's main entrance. A large stone chimney that was part of the Non-Commissioned Officer's Club forms the centerpiece of a park where there are a few original buildings, some concrete foundations from other structures, and some roadways.​

​To preserve this history, the Aliceville Museum created the POW Camp Exhibit. Visitors from all over the world view artifacts from Camp Aliceville. The prisoners' paintings, letters, books, sculpture, wood crafting, pottery, musical instruments and photographs portray a vivid picture of life at Camp Aliceville. The collection includes hundreds of items donated to the museum by former POWs, Aliceville residents and others who had connections to the camp. A 14-minute documentary video presents interviews with former Camp Aliceville POWs, military police escort guards and civilian employees. 

The camp operated from 1943 to 1945. To commemorate the arrival of the first POWs just over 80 years ago and to celebrate Aliceville's major contribution to the war effort, reenactors portraying German POWs, American Military Police and Alabama Highway Patrolmen will present a recreation of the WWII camp on May 3 and 4. Spectators are encouraged to get into the spirit of the event by wearing 1940s-style clothing.

​Festivities begin with a WWII movie at the Aliceville Entertainment Complex at 6:00 p.m. on Friday, May 3.  

At 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, reenactors will stage an Allies vs. Axis skirmish, representing the Second Battle of El Alamein, which ended in a German surrender.

The reenactors will then be transported to the former site of the Aliceville Frisco depot at the railroad crossing on 3rd Avenue NW. From there, they will march westward along 3rd Avenue, then eastward along Memorial Parkway to Broad Street, to the intersection of Broad and 2nd Avenue, where the welcome ceremony will be held. 

After a noon welcoming ceremony, the reenactors will proceed to a mock campsite along Memorial Parkway at the Broad Street intersection, where they will engage in a variety of activities depicting life at the camp. Spectators are encouraged to communicate with the reenactors through the fence as they carry on their daily activities.

​At 6:00 p.m. Saturday, Aliceville City Hall will host a USO Dinner/Dance. The USO (United Services Organization) provided entertainment for troops in the theatres of war during many wars, including WWII. The ticketed event features the era's popular swing music played by the Drew White Orchestra and a dance floor.

1940s-era clothing is encouraged but not required. Admission is $30 – tickets available online or at the Aliceville Museum.

​Schedule of Events 
​Spectators are encouraged to dress in 1940s attire!

Friday, May 3

5:30 p.m.-8:00 p.m.

Free Admission - Doors open at 5:30 - Movie starts at 6:00
WWII era Movie- The More the Merrier (Oscar award-winning comedy, 1943) with Jean Arthur, Joel McRae and Charles, with a Cartoon, and Newsreel @ Aliceville Entertainment complex, 210 Broad Street NE, Aliceville

Saturday, May 4

9:30 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

Dogwood Festival Street Fair sponsored by The Aliceville Area Chamber of Commerce - Broad Street

10:30 a.m.-11:00 p.m.

​Reenactors stage Allied vs Axis Skirmish (Battle at El Alamein and German Surrender) - at Mock Camp on Memorial Parkway at Broad Street intersection

11:30 a.m.-Noon

​POW March - ​ Commences at 3rd Ave NW Railroad Crossing westward to intersection with Memorial Parkway, then east on Memorial Parkway to Broad Street, then to intersection of Broad and 2nd Avenue.


Official Welcome - intersection of Broad Street and 2nd Avenue.​

1:00 p.m.-4:30 p.m.

​Reenactment Camp Site - Memorial Parkway & Broad St
Watch Various Scenarios of POW activities
- roll call, mock Rommel Funeral, escape attempt, music, soccer match, etc  

6:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m.

Admission is $30 per person
USO Dinner Dance with Swing Music by the Drew White Orchestra @ Aliceville City Hall, 419 Memorial Parkway NE, Aliceville.

Purchase tickets at the Aliceville Museum or securely online here.

Jim' Zig' Zeigler writes about Alabama's people, places, events, groups and prominent deaths. He is a former Alabama Public Service Commissioner and State Auditor. You can reach him for comments at

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