Amon Carter, Jr. - Prisoner of War

Photo of one of the Amon G. Carter letters

Example of censored letter

Photo of Among G. Carter Jr. at Oflag 64

Amon Carter Jr. is represented on the front row on the far left with some of his fellow Kriegies which was a term for inmates

           Throughout World War II, Allied soldiers were captured and sent to Prisoner of War camps. Most Americans retained their military discipline in these camps to keep organized and formulate plans to escape. Almost every man would take on some task to help improve their in camp position.[i] One such man was Amon G. Carter Jr., a future board of trustees member at TCU and son of the Fort Worth newspaper tycoon Amon G. Carter. Carter Jr. used his father’s connections to ease not only the minds of his comrades that were being held with him at Oflag 64, a camp in Poland that housed American officers, but also their families.[ii]

            Carter Jr. was sent to Oflag 64 after being captured in Tunisia by Arabs who turned him over to the Germans[iii]. He was given the task of going to a local station under supervision to pick up packages.[iv] The Oflag 64 staff allowed such things as they were more lenient than other camps where wandering inmates were shot.[v] These were private packages prisoner’s families had sent via the Red Cross. Carter Jr. was a good fit for this task because of the volume of packages that he received from his father to help keep himself and his fellow inmates sustained. While being sent to collect packages, he met “a young Polish woman employed in the local station, Eugenia Grecka… [Who] left messages for him hidden in the station’s wastepaper basket”.[vi] Inmates valued these notes and packages because of the meager food rations and information about the war that they received from the Germans. This passing of information was later halted by a German officer who caught Eugenia, but, for some reason, decided not to turn her in.[vii] This would not, however, be Carter Jr.’s last mission to help his comrades.

            While in Oflag 64, Carter Jr. and other POWs were permitted to write and receive letters from their families and loved ones back home[viii]. The allowances on letters out of Oflag 64 were surprisingly lenient compared to other, much stricter camps. Carter Jr. realized that he could put this privilege to good use with his father’s newspaper in Fort Worth and he began to notify his father whenever an officer from Texas arrived at camp. Amon Carter received these letters and published that the indicated soldiers had not perished, as many of their families feared, but instead were prisoners.[ix] To a concerned family fearing for their loved one’s life, this was a godsend to know that they were alright. Carter Jr. was careful with the letters he sent as the Germans censored all mail. In one letter to a Jean Stubbs, Carter Jr. clearly avoided being censored when he stated, “There are a lot of things I would like to tell you, but they will have to wait until I get home. You wouldn’t believe some of the things that happened to different officers here.”[x] At times the Germans censored some of the names that Carter Jr. sent his father.[xi] This ludicrous amount of censoring shows how concerned the Germans were with information leaks. Carter Jr. continued to write letters informing his father of Texas prisoners until the camp’s abandonment.

            As a whole, Carter Jr.’s efforts helped many keep their peace of mind during these trying times. Risking his life by committing espionage and sending censorable materials that could have easily offended any German officer and gotten himself killed, Carter Jr. personified what it means to be a true serviceman.  

 

 

Curator: Will Kirtley


[i] Stephen Dando-Collins, The Greatest American WWII Escape Story Never Told: The Big Break (New York, St. Martin’s Press, 2007)

[ii] Amon G. Carter Jr. to Amon G. Carter, March 20, 1943, Folder 1, Box 143, Amon G. Carter Papers, Special Collections, Mary Couts Burnett Library, Texas Christian University

[iii] Amon G. Carter Jr. to Amon G. Carter, March 20, 1943, Folder 1, Box 143, Amon G. Carter Papers, Special Collections, Mary Couts Burnett Library, Texas Christian University

[iv] Stephen Dando-Collins, The Greatest American WWII Escape Story Never Told: The Big Break (New York, St. Martin’s Press, 2007), 57

[v] E. Stephenson , “Experiences of a Prisoner of War: World War 2 in Germany” Australian Military Medicine Vol. 1: 42-50.

[vi] Stephen Dando-Collins, The Greatest American WWII Escape Story Never Told: The Big Break (New York, St. Martin’s Press, 2007), 57

[vii] Stephen Dando-Collins, The Greatest American WWII Escape Story Never Told: The Big Break (New York, St. Martin’s Press, 2007), 57

[viii] Amon G. Carter Jr. to Amon G. Carter, March 20, 1943, Folder 1, Box 143, Amon G. Carter Papers, Special Collections, Mary Couts Burnett Library, Texas Christian University

[ix] Amon G. Carter Jr. to Amon G. Carter, October 10, 1944, Folder 4, Box 143, Amon G. Carter Papers, Special Collections, Mary Couts Burnett Library, Texas Christian University

[x] Amon G. Carter Jr. to Jean Stubbs, March 12, 1944, Folder 4, Box 143, Amon G. Carter Papers, Special Collections, Mary Couts Burnett Library, Texas Christian University

 

[xi] Amon G. Carter Jr. to Amon G. Carter, September 18, 1944, Folder 4, Box 143, Amon G. Carter Papers, Special Collections, Mary Couts Burnett Library, Texas Christian University

 

For Further Reading: 

 Diggs, J. Frank. Americans behind the Barbed Wire: World War II: inside a German Prison Camp. Vandamere Press, 2000

Americans behind the Barbed Wire: World War II: Inside a German Prison Camp by Frank J. Diggs is a wonderful description from a POW that was housed in Oflag 64 during around the same time as Carter Jr. This piece gives a great overview of what day to day life in a POW camp was like.

 Benard, Cheryl, Edward O'Connell, Cathryn Quantic Thurston, Andres Villamizar, Elvira N. Loredo, Thomas Sullivan and Jeremiah Goulka. The Battle Behind the Wire: U.S. Prisoner and Detainee Operations from World War II to Iraq. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Corporation, 2011

The Battle Behind the Wire: US prisoner and Detainee Operations from WWII to Iraq published by the Rand National Defense Research Institute covers the way that the US has handled it’s POW’s ranging from WWII to Iraq.

World War II at TCU
Amon Carter, Jr. - Prisoner of War