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Fischer, William G.

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Recollections of German prisoners of war working on his father's farm, south of Carlsbad, NM

Interviewee William G. Fischer, male, born in 1938
Date Range 1944-1945
Date & Location July 16, 2000, Interviewer's home in Las Cruces, NM
Project Prisoners of War in New Mexico Agriculture
Region Southeast New Mexico
Number of Tapes 1
Transcribed August 6, 2000
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Tape 1, Side A

Fischer came into contact with POWs while living on his father's farm, located south of Carlsbad, N.M. He also saw POWs working at St. Edward's School.

His father picked up the POWs at the old CCC camp at the corner of Pierce and Eighth Streets in Carlsbad.

The prisoners had certain quotas or goals to attain and the elder Mr. Fischer would give them tobacco and coffee as an incentive. They would take this back to camp, loosely stored in their pockets, to avoid detection by the guards.

Picking cotton is described, along with the civility of the prisoners.

Guards were not seen very often.

While doing work at St. Edward's, the prisoners asked the parish priest if they could play the organ. The priest assented and the result was beautiful playing and singing of "Silent Night".

Fischer speaks of his German ancestry and how this helped in establishing relationships. When he discovered there was no salt in the camp, he gave the prisoners some—again, loosely.

He tells of his sister's recollection that the prisoners built a monument made of stone in the shape of an iron cross in a park on Richardson Street in Roswell, N.M.

Fischer states that while they were warned to watch for escape attempts, he never heard of one. He does remember that children would, sometimes, taunt the prisoners with shouts of "Heil Hitler" and the Nazi salute.

Use of prisoners in the community was widespread.

Fischer thinks that the interchange of people during the war helped in restoring order following WWII.