NEW ORLEANS (November 6, 2012) — This Veterans Day The National WWII Museum will unveil an intriguing new exhibit that recounts the experiences of American Prisoners of War (POWs) imprisoned in the stalags of Nazi Germany. Opening Sunday, November 11, Guests of the Third Reich: American POWs in Europe will examine the diverse experiences of the 93,941 Americans captured by the Nazis and held in captivity during the Second World War. Drawing on the Museum’s rich collection of POW artifacts, the exhibit highlights the prisoners’ personal and unique stories featuring oral histories from some of Adolf Hitler’s reluctant “guests,” the ironic name used by the prisoners themselves.
“This is an important, ground-breaking exhibit that goes inside the camps where Americans were imprisoned,” said Dr. Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, president and chief executive officer of The National WWII Museum in New Orleans. “This is no Hollywood drama. Our artifacts portray the actual conditions and daily life and show, even in circumstances of extreme duress, the unbreakable American Spirit and our people’s thirst for freedom.”
An online presentation of the exhibit is also available at www.guestsofthethirdreich.org.
A Red Cross aid package, one of more than 27 million shipped to prisoners filled with food and other supplies during the war, will be on display. Other fascinating artifacts in the exhibit include crutches used by a repatriated American fighter pilot on a September 1944 voyage home, a violin made in Stalag Luft I from material scavenged from around the camp, and seven “Wartime Logs.” These blank books, distributed by the YMCA with colored pencils, were meant to record the prisoner experience. The ones on display are filled with drawings, poems and snapshots of camp life.
“We have eight of them in our collection,” said Exhibition Curator/Content Specialist Kimberly Guise. “They’re fantastic historic documents, and some of the choicest treasures in our collection.”
In keeping with the mission to make the Museum’s collection accessible to digital generations, seven journals have also been placed on iPads in their entirety. Visitors to the exhibit can swipe through the pages and read entries from the war. These journals are among materials posted on the www.guestsofthethirdreich.org website.
Featured programming for the exhibit will include a springtime event honoring the families of the POWs, as well as showings of the popular 1960s TV series Hogan’s Heroes, a situation comedy that celebrated the POWs’ ingenuity even as it lampooned their German captors.
Guests of the Third Reich runs from Veterans Day until July 7, 2013. The exhibit is presented by The Helis Foundation with support from the Eugenie & Joseph Jones Family Foundation and The James R. Moffett Family Foundation, with special thanks to Betty B. Dettre. It is located in the Joe W. and D.D. Brown Foundation Special Exhibit Gallery. The Museum’s general admission charge covers access to the gallery.
The National WWII Museum tells the story of the American Experience in the war that changed the world — why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today. Dedicated in 2000 as The National D-Day Museum and designated by Congress as America’s National WWII Museum, it celebrates the American Spirit, the teamwork, optimism, courage and sacrifice of the men and women who served on the battlefront and the Home Front. For more information, call 877-813-3329 or 504-527-6012 or visit www.nationalww2museum.org. Follow us on Twitter at WWIImuseum or visit our Facebook fan page.