Monday, May 04, 2015

(Photos) What little remains of the Camp Pine POW camp in Des Plaines

V-E Day, May 8, will be with us in four days--it will mark the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe.

Closer to home, for me, is the site of a WWII prisoner of war camp for German captives in Des Plaines, Illinois. It's now part of the Camp Pine Woods Forest Preserve.

There is almost nothing left. Below is what I found last week.

To the west of the former camp is the Des Plaines River.

The remains of the camp that I could find are in a large meadow that periodically is the subject of a controlled burn. Look for debris such as this in the thickets of the field.

Before the Second World War the site was a Civilian Conservation Corps camp. The POW camp opened in April, 1945. Some of the prisoners toiled on local farms--and a few worked at Pesche's Flowers on River Road, which is still in business. The internees say they were well treated. After the war Camp Pine was a Boy Scout and Girl Scout camp.

More rubble in a different thicket.

Including guards, about 280 men were housed at the facility. The prisoners played games such as soccer, ping pong, and cards.

Here vegetation surrounds a building foundation. Over 300,000 German POWS were held in the United States. Fort Sheridan in Highland Park, Illinois served as a regional headquarters for the camps. Nine of the POWs are buried at the base cemetery north of the old fort, which closed in 1993. None of the dead were from Camp Pine.

Amazingly, there are no historical markers or even a cheap sign indicating the historical importance of this spot.

Where are the pine trees? I could only fine a sole scrubby pine at Camp Pine Woods.

During my walk back to my car a kayaker rowed past.

Related post:

Volkstrauertag: Photos of German POW gravestones at Fort Sheridan

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