Summary justice: the price of treason for eight World War II German prisoners of war

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Schock, Mark P.
Owens, Robert M.

This work is the story of the murder of Werner Drechsler, a German Navy prisoner of war, at the POW camp in Papago Park, Arizona in March 1944. Drechsler had aided his American captors in trying to glean military information from other German Navy POWs at the Fort Hunt, Virginia interrogation center. He was recognized almost immediately upon his arrival at Papago Park, and was murdered the very night he arrived. His killers were also German Navy POWs, whose identity was unknown until a special U. S. Army investigatory board uncovered their identities. Questions remain as to the methods employed by investigators, working on the periphery of that board, to eventually acquire confessions from the seven men responsible for Drechsler’s death. Opinions vary as to the fairness of the court martial which condemned these men to death for their part in the murder. Opinions likewise vary as to the level of culpability of the U. S. Army for Drechsler’s death. The National Archives possesses thousands of pages of documents relating to Drechsler’s activities at Fort Hunt, the reaction of both the German POWS at Papago Park and the U.S. Army to the murder, and to the investigation into the killing. The U. S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals holds the trial transcript and related papers. These documents are often confusing and contradictory. An examination into these sources reveals allegations of coercion employed to gain the confessions, which constitute the only evidence presented against the accused seven men. The sources also reveal that U.S. Army personnel could, and probably should, have prevented the killing from ever taking place. Ultimately, they reveal yet another tragedy of war.

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Thesis (M.A.)--Wichita State University, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, Dept. of History.