ALEX Learning Activity


German Prisoners of War in Alabama

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  This learning activity provided by:  
Author: Lesa Roberts
Organization:Whitesburg Christian Academy
  General Activity Information  
Activity ID: 2111
German Prisoners of War in Alabama
Digital Tool/Resource:
Encyclopedia of Alabama: World War II POW Camps in Alabama
Web Address – URL:

Students will read, analyze, and annotate a secondary source, World War II POW Camps in Alabama. They will use the information to write one to two paragraph summaries (postcards) from German POW perspectives. The summaries will include information about the camps in Alabama, daily routines, prisoner treatment, educational and work opportunities, and how the cities and people of Alabama were affected by the camps.

This activity results from the ALEX Resource Gap Project.

  Associated Standards and Objectives  
Content Standard(s):
Social Studies
SS2010 (2010)
Grade: 6
United States Studies: The Industrial Revolution to the Present
7 ) Identify changes on the American home front during World War II.

Example: rationing

•  Recognizing the retooling of factories from consumer to military production
•  Identifying new roles of women and African Americans in the workforce
•  Describing increased demand on the Birmingham steel industry and Port of Mobile facilities (Alabama)
•  Describing the experience of African Americans and Japanese Americans in the United States during World War II, including the Tuskegee Airmen and occupants of internment camps (Alabama)
Unpacked Content
Strand: Economics, Geography, History, Civics and Government
Course Title: United States Studies: The Industrial Revolution to the Present
Evidence Of Student Attainment:
  • Describe the types of rationing implemented and the reasons rationing was necessary.
  • Describe the shift in factory production from consumer to military during WWII.
  • Describe the changing role of women and ethnic minorities in the workplace.
  • Describe the industrial contributions of Alabama during WWII, including ports and facilities.
Teacher Vocabulary:
  • internment camp
  • rationing
  • Birmingham steel industry
  • Port of Mobile
  • Tuskegee Airmen
  • retooling
Students know:
  • The types of rationing that occurred in the United States during WWII.
Students are able to:
  • Cite evidence to support changes on the home front using primary and secondary sources.
  • Evaluate the contributions of significant individuals and/or groups in the US during WWII.
Students understand that:
  • Many changes occurred in the United States during WWII.

Alabama Alternate Achievement Standards
AAS Standard:
SS.AAS.6.7- Recognize that war often requires sacrifices from the civilian population; identify minority and female contributions to World War II, including the Tuskegee Airmen, code talkers, and Rosie the Riveter; identify changes that happen when resources are transferred from civilian to military use in time of war.

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will write one to two paragraph summaries, describing life within the Alabama Prisoner of War camps.
  • Students will discuss how the home front, including farms and nearby towns, were changed by the establishment of German POW camps in Alabama.
  Strategies, Preparations and Variations  

  1. The teacher should ask the students what they thought happened to the thousands of prisoners that the Allies captured.
  2. The teacher should ask if the students would consider having a POW camp in their town. Would there be any benefits? Disadvantages?
  3. Distribute the article about the Alabama POW camps and tell the students they will be writing summaries from a German's perspective (postcards).
  4. Encourage the students to highlight and annotate details about the location of the camps, the daily routines, work and educational opportunities, and how the camps affected the cities and Alabamians.
  5. Allow the students to share their thoughts with a partner before leading a class discussion. What was most interesting? What was surprising? How do the WWII POW camps differ from war camps today?
  6. Distribute a 5x7 inch index card to each student. Allow time for the students to write a postcard home from a German POW's perspective, describing the camp, their daily routine, and work and educational opportunities. They should also include any information about the nearby cities and any Alabamians they would have encountered.
Assessment Strategies:

  • After students have finished writing, allow them time to share with a partner.
  • Ask for volunteers to share their postcards with the class.
  • Teachers may document/grade article annotations.
  • Postcards may be graded for accuracy and thoroughness of information, creativity, and grammar.

Advanced Preparation:

  • Students should have some background information about the capture of prisoners by both the Axis and Allied powers.
  • Students should be introduced to World War II military bases in Alabama.
Variation Tips (optional):

  • If computers and printers are available, students may print Camp Aliceville POW camp photographs for the fronts of the postcards. 
  • Students may illustrate their own postcards.
Notes or Recommendations (optional):
  Keywords and Search Tags  
Keywords and Search Tags: