German POW Letters - to Their Captors - Found in Tennessee Home

Tyler McNally | July 14, 2015
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After spending time as POWs in Tennessee during WWII, German soldiers wrote hundreds of letters back to their captors, who soon became friends, but those letters would be forgotten for decades.

Written in their native German tongue, the approximately 400 letters "recalled eating fresh strawberries while in Tennessee and sent photographs of their wives and newborn children, along with accounts of the harsh realities of postwar Germany," says CBS-KREM.

​In a freak discovery, the letters would be discovered in a decades old Corn Flakes box that had been forgotten about.

​The letters were soon donated to local Lipscomb University where German professor Charley McVey was given to opportunity to translate the letters.

The fascinating letters describes the interactions of the POWs and Tennessee residents.

Retired historian Michael Bradley said that the POWs would work "alongside people in the field, a lot of other things soon go by the wayside."

"As they cut timber and cleared fields, the men grew close with the Brocks, who would invite them to share cold buttermilk during their breaks," said KREM.

The relationship between the captor and captive became one of familial relations as some Americans would be called "aunt" or "uncle."

In one letter, German soldier Erich Thimmann is thankful for a gift of pants and leather boots from the Brock family. "I am so happy that I now once again can dress acceptably... And for this reason I must continue to be grateful to you all, my dear Brock Family. I would so very much like to make you happy. Perhaps in a subsequent letter," wrote Thimmann per McVey's translation.

The last letter was sent in 1972.

McVey boils down the importance of the letters:

"What these letters are about is the development of relationships... When you strip away the politics, I think a lot of times the people — who are the ones that get called on to fight the war — the people would get along just fine."

H/T Reddit and KREM

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