Excerpted from Camp Weingarten - WWII POW Internment Camp. (The whole posting is only about twice the length of this excerpt.)
Thirty prisoner of war (POW) camps were established in Missouri during World War II. The camps were populated by more than 15,000 prisoners between 1942 and 1946, the majority of whom came from Germany. While in the camps, the prisoners were well-fed and allowed to pursue a wide variety of diversions. Most of the enlisted prisoners were incorporated into a POW labor program, and were paid by the government for their exertions in coupons that could be redeemed for luxury items at the camp canteens.
The experiences of prisoners within the camps varied widely, but all enemy prisoners were processed in the same manner. Upon arrival in Missouri, the prisoners found that the character of each camp was unique. The four main camps in Missouri were Camp Weingarten, Camp Clark, Fort Leonard Wood, and Camp Crowder. Each of these locations housed thousands of prisoners and was in continuous operation for years. As such, the records for each were more thorough than for the smaller, temporary camps.
The construction of each main camp brought controversy, as the federal government took farmland that had been held in families for many generations for the construction of prison camps. Accompanying the thousands of prisoners of war were camp officers, guards, support personnel, and civilian jobs. As a result, each main camp had a significant if temporary effect upon the local economy. Hundreds of local civilians were employed at each of the main camps, serving primarily in clerical and support positions. The arrival of large numbers of young men also had a distinct, if not always encouraged, social impact. Some Americans living near prisoner camps were afraid of the prisoners, but many young civilians, particularly young women, treated the prisoners primarily as a curiousity. There were even occasions in which prisoners were able to pursue romantic relationships with local American women.
My family not only lived near Camp Clark (near my birthplace of Nevada, Missouri); but, if I recall correctly, my father worked near Neosho, Missouri, at Camp Crowder (also mentioned above) as an electrician. I recall that the people living next to us (I no longer recall whether we stayed in Neosho or Joplin - I was only 4 years old!) kept a goat and that we, coming from dairy cattle farmers, did not care for the milk and butter from it.
Ah, yes, the 1940s were strange, indeed!