German POWs Held in Camps in Florida:
During World War II, some 378,000 German and Italian captives were sent to prisoner-of-war camps in the United States. Overall, about 10,000 German prisoners spent time in Florida, and it became a relatively common sight for Floridians to see POWs working on farms or in logging camps.
The two major camps housing German prisoners in Florida were Camp Blanding and Camp Gordon Johnston. The former camp was located near Starke in north central Florida and the latter on the northern Gulf coast in and around Carrabelle. Some 7,500 prisoners were held at the Blanding compound, which was activated in 1943, and in twenty branch or side camps. Beginning in March 1944, some 2,500 prisoners were confined at Camp Gordon Johnston and its three branch camps.
American military officials adhered to the provisions of the 1929 Geneva Convention, which stipulated that captives must receive the same food, clothing, and housing as the troops of the home nation. Enlisted personnel worked in a variety of positions both inside and outside the camp, while non-commissioned officers performed supervisory functions. Religious services were made available, and prisoners had free time to participate in sports, classroom, or leisure activities. U.S. officials also mounted a re-education campaign to teach the prisoners democratic values.