How Did Camp Cooke Use Religion In Pw2

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Religion was another device used to reach the social consciousness of the prisoners. But religion was not on the minds of most prisoners, as Maurice Perret of the Swiss Legation discovered after visiting Camp Cooke in September 1944. In fact, the prisoners had turned down an offer from American Army chaplains to conduct religious services in the camp. Since religion (Christianity) under National Socialism was subjugated to state control, dedicated Nazis resented its practice outside party-sanctioned gatherings. Some stayed away because they feared participation would invite reprisals from Nazi stalwarts in the camp. Others were simply indifferent.36
Until the defeat of Nazi Germany in May 1945, only a tiny minority of POWs regularly attended religious services at Camp Cooke. At first, Catholic services were conducted in the theater barracks and Protestant services in a schoolroom. After the war when the number of worshipers increased significantly, both congregations held regular gatherings in a chapel outside the POW camp. Lt. Harris obtained the services of German-speaking civilian clergymen for both …show more content…

Helene De Groodt, the widow of Lieutenant (later Captain) Franklin T. De Groodt who was assigned to Camp Cooke and to several of its branch camps recalls one such incident at the Delano camp:
Once when Frank was commanding the Delano camp, a churchful of storefront fundamentalists decided they were going to go down to the POW compound (which wasn’t far from the center of that little valley town) to “save them Nazi sinners.” In those times many of the migrant workers who had come to harvest crops and stayed in the valley towns were dust bowl Okies, etc. They had little education, a lot of gullibility, and a strong founding in one sort of fundamentalist religion or another. Most of them, when they got to California, formed little storefront churches and had frequent revival

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