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for North Carolina--History--World War, 1939-1945--Prisoners of war--Williamston
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During World War II, eastern North Carolina became the home of several prisoner-of-war camps. Roberson focuses on the Williamston camp, where prisoners began arriving in 1943. Italians prisoners arrived first; however, they were soon moved to Butner. Following the Italians, German prisoners began to arrive. These soldiers had served in North Africa in Rommel's Africa Corps. In Williamston, the prisoners found work filling the labor roles of American men who had been drafted. Labor rules regarding the prisoners were dictated by the Geneva Convention. The Germans were allowed to furnish the camp with gardens and other decorations. They were even allowed to build a recreation building. Friendships between the prisoners and civilians grew and continued following the war. Several of the German soldiers have returned to Williamston to revisit the site of their incarceration as well as to reunite with old friends.