German-Italian Memorial Cemetery – Anniston, Alabama - Atlas Obscura

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German-Italian Memorial Cemetery

This small cemetery contains the graves of prisoners of war who were interred at Fort McClellan during World War II. 

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On a little road surrounded by pine trees and quaint houses in Anniston, Alabama, you can find a number of headstones that mark the final resting places of German and Italian soldiers who were held as prisoners of war.

From 1943 to 1946, German and Italian soldiers from the North African Campaign were brought to Fort McClellan as prisoners of war. More than 400,000 Axis soldiers were held as prisoners in camps throughout the United States, and some 3,000 were interned at Fort McClellan, which was widely regarded as a model camp.

A total of 29 men are buried at the cemetery, 26 of them German and three Italian. The Italians that came to the cemetery were reburied there after other camps closed. Most of the deaths had been accidents, at least at Fort McClellan, however, there was one case of a soldier who died by suicide after suffering from psychosis. When these soldiers died they were given the same rights as an American soldier, including proper headstones. In one case the ambulance that took the POW to the hospital came to the funeral. 

In recent years, a project was set in place to restore the graves, where they were all cleaned up and a big fence was put up. There are still events going on to continue the respect for the soldiers, such as every third Sunday of November there is a ceremony of placing wreaths with the ROTC color guard and military. However, due to COVID-19 these are closed services until further notice.

Know Before You Go

There is no fee for coming inside or place to get souvenirs but it is asked to be respectful while there, given as it is their final resting place. Its operating hours are from dawn to dusk and the gate isn’t locked to open; you simply pull the piece of metal up and pull.

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January 18, 2022

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