joined the fight against Germany
, prisoners of war
weren't long to follow. The United States set up hundreds of camps for German prisoners across the country. In April of 1943
, the surrender of Rommel
's Afrika Korps
brought 150,000 German soldiers to the US. From then on, until Germany's surrender, between 20,000 and 60,000 Germans were checking in to American camps every month. All told, roughly 450,000 captured Germans spent time on American soil.
American policy regarding POWs was to follow the Geneva Convention to the letter, in the hopes that captured Americans would be treated as well. The gist of the agreement was that captured soldiers would receive the exact same treatment as those soldiers in their host's service. POWs lived in the same barracks, slept on the same cots and were served the same meals as US soldiers. Officers received certain "privileges of rank" like private cottages, and even allowed support staff.
This treatment would eventually generate some resentment towards the camps in the local community. POWs weren't required to work, weren't subject to the strict rationing Americans were. The perception that the prisoners were being coddled led to many of these camps being referred to as the local "Fritz Ritz." Fritz, of course, being slang for German, and The Ritz being the epitome of luxury.