German Invasion of Western North Carolina

This is a generously illustrated history of the little-known German internment camp located in the southern Appalachian village of Hot Springs during World War I. It is also the story of the relationship between the mountain villagers and the German prisoners in their midst, including the crew of the world’s largest ship, the “Vaterland.”

“In May 1917 fear and dread followed the realization that an alien ‘city’ would be dropped into the tiny village of 650.” Thus began the saga in the United States Government took over the Mountain Park Hotel and grounds and turned it into an interment camp to house 2200 German prisonsers. (This would be the largest World War I prison camp in the United States at the time.) The first evidence of the German “invasion” was that all the guests of the hotel were asked to leave and work was begun to transform the grounds of this beautiful resort into barracks, guard houses, and other facilities. The majority of the “prisoners” (most of whom were civilians) were officers and crew of German and Austrian commercial ships seized by the U.S. Government on April 6th. Therefore, they could not be called “prisoners’of-war” but were named “enemy aliens” by the Department of Immigration.

The proximity of so many Germans in the small village led to numerous personal contacts between them and the villagers. Local people opened their homes to relatives of the internees. Guards took prisonsers home for dinner. The Germans taught crafts to the townspeople and entertained them with band music.

This thoroughly researched book contains 140 photographs, 18 maps and illustrations, and 25 government documents that help tell the story of how the citizens of this community and the prisoners became entwined.
  • 11 x 8 1/2 Trade Paper 127pp.
  • Subject: Appalachian History, North Carolina Interest

Condition: New

ISBN: 978-1-57072-074-1

In stock