Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

October 15, 2012

Model helps bring Camp Crossville to life

CROSSVILLE — During World War II, Jürgen Sperber, a German soldier, wanted to reassure his wife that, despite being a prisoner of war, he was living comfortably. He painted a medium-sized oil painting of his residence, a barracks in a camp that was supposed to house Japanese civilians, and had it mailed to her as a post card.

Seventy years later, the barracks depicted in Sperber's painting are no longer there, but memories of their presence, as well as Jergen's, live on in the Military Memorial Museum at 20 South Main St. in Crossville. In observance of the camp's 70th anniversary, the museum's staff of volunteers invites the public to stop by and visit the room dedicated to what was known as Camp Crossville.

"Although there are World War II items in it, the room is referred to as the POW Room, which is filled with all sorts of items from the camp — utensils, the fireplace where prisoners tried to escape underneath… (and the) painting by prisoner Jürgen Sperber…, which he donated to the museum after his death nearly two years ago," stated Nina Boring, museum director.

Boring and her staff are eager for visitors to see their latest acquisition — an elaborately detailed wooden model of the POW camp as it looked during Sperber's stay. It replaces a smaller model donated to the museum years ago by the local 4-H camp, which now uses the camp for their activities.

“We appreciated it, but it didn’t really tell you anything and a lot of the buildings were falling off,” said Boring.

Boring had been wanting to make a change for three years and recently received help from volunteers to help make it happen. The exhibit was funded in part by the Cumberland County Republican Women's Club, with the exhibit base, building and fence fabrication provided by Ron Laubham. The display was assembled over two months by Boring and museum volunteers Nick Feisk, Frank Kral, William McCalla, Charles Rau, Spencer Stanford, John Xenos, Charles Wierer, Gordon Overbey, Dot Roberts, Charles Persil, Warren Judd and Louke Kelly.

"I’m glad we’re able to do it to let the people actually see what the camp looked like, and I appreciate all the help that I had with it...” said Borning.

The POW camp was established on approximately 200 acres of a Civil Conservation Corps site. It opened in November 1942, with 68 Germans captured about 17 days earlier in Casablanca, South Africa. It was one of the first POW camps in the United States and housed more than 1,500 German and Italian prisoners.

"The camp was unique because it held officers from Field Marshal Erwin Rommel's North African Corps," Boring explained. "Medical officers both from German and Italian units were included among the prisoners. The camp also held General Pietro Gazzeri, one of the Italian army's highest ranking officers… but they eventually removed the Italians and took them to another camp, and then it became an all German camp after that.

"The only thing standing up right now at the POW camp is the chimney and one of the buildings that used to be either the warehouse or the hospital," she added. "They’re using it as a craft area right now... Everything else has been torn down.”

The new POW camp model rests on top of flooring that was removed from barracks from the site, which the museum obtained in 2001.

"A lot,” Borning chuckled when asked how many buildings were once on the site. “We have a map that we went by that showed us where the buildings went…”

Boring encourages the public to visit the museum to see the display and hear stories about the camp. Volunteers will gladly share tidbits about life behind the camp's walls, including the many ways prisoners tried to escape and how local folks interacted with them. Personal documents donated by Sperber, documenting his own experience, are also on display.

In addition, visitors can take in the many other exhibits at the museum showcasing memorabilia from the Civil War through today. Many of the artifacts were donated by veterans, their families and other individuals and organizations.

"When we started, we had around 110 items,” Borning noted. “Now, we have around 2,700.”

Among those items are books that Boring believes will come in handy for anyone doing research related to the military. Until recently, they did not have a proper place for them, Boring noted.

"We started a reading section called the Soldiers Room located in a upstairs room," she said. "It’s a work in progress — bookcases are greatly needed — but hundreds or books are available for researching purposes. They will be available by appointment only."

The museum does not charge admission, but a donation is always appreciated. It is open Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and weekends by appointment. Schools, organizations, families and other groups are welcome as well.

Anyone interested in volunteering at the museum is encouraged to contact Boring. No military training or knowledge is required, and volunteers pick the number of days and hours they would like to work.

"You can work half a day, once a month, every week... as long as I know I can rely you,” Boring said.

For more information about the museum, or how to become a volunteer, call Boring at 510-7692.

1
Text Only
Area News
  • certifying machines.jpg Certifying early voting machines

    April 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mobile Vet Center in town Wednesday

    The Department of Veterans Affairs will have a Mobile Vet Center (MVC) in Crossville at the Cumberland County Community Complex 1398 Livingston Rd. on Wednesday, April 16. MVC 844 will be at the Community Complex from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.

    April 15, 2014

  • The Palm Tree Revisited

    Palm Sunday is right around the corner. Since we don't have palm trees in our neck of the woods, there probably aren't many people who think about their unique characteristics. Several years ago I read a devotional by Dr. Cecil A. Fayard Jr., “The Palm Tree Revisited,” and want to share some highlights.

    April 15, 2014

  • Crossville breakfast rotary.jpg Rotarians support United Fund

    On Wednesday, March 26, Crossville Breakfast Rotary President Jeff Vires presented a $1,000 check from the Crossville Breakfast Rotary Club to Carmen Wyatt, board president of United Fund, and Holly Neal, executive director of the United Fund. The United Fund of Cumberland County, Inc. provides administrative and other central services for the public and private health, welfare, character building and recreation, education service, charitable and philanthropic agencies and community organizations and the general public of Crossville, Cumberland County and the vicinity.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • tree of distinction.jpg Tree of Distinction?

    In the articles on Trees of Distinction, the Crossville Tree Board usually highlights a tree in the community that is an exemplary specimen of the species.

    April 14, 2014 1 Photo

  • Bids OK'd for used oil collection program

    Several bids were approved recently by the Cumberland County Financial Management Committee for the purchase and installation of equipment for a used oil collecting program from an oil grant awarded by the state for the county's solid waste and recycling department.

    April 14, 2014

  • No show burglary defendant pleads to 8 years

    A Cumberland County man who at least twice failed to appear in court for his trial on burglary and theft charges pleaded guilty in Cumberland County Criminal Court and received an eight-year prison sentence.

    April 14, 2014

  • Panel wants rid of portables

    Members of the Cumberland County Board of Education have begun a study of school enrollment, capacity and facility needs as the open enrollment period for the school system nears in June.

    April 14, 2014

  • I-40 wrong-way driver to serve 2 years

    The man who led local authorities on a pursuit in the wrong lane on Interstate 40 in December by-passed grand jury action on charges against him and pleaded guilty to an information filed in Cumberland County Criminal Court.

    April 11, 2014

  • Lantana wreck.jpg One injured in crash

    One person was injured in this Wednesday morning crash that occurred at the intersection of Lantana Rd. and Kearney Dr. around 6:30 a.m., according to Ptl. Daniel Coleman's report. The crash happened when a 2002 Honda van driven by a 17-year-old Hood Dr. resident exited Kearney Dr. and traveled into the path of a 2000 Chevrolet S10 pickup driven by Cody W. Beaty, 23, of Creston Rd. The 17-year-old was transported by ambulance to Cumberland Medical Center.

    April 11, 2014 1 Photo

Marketplace Marquee
Must Read
Section Teases
Seasonal Content
Parade
AP Video
Tributes Mark Boston Bombing Anniversary Raw: Kan. Shooting Suspect Faces Judge US Supports Ukraine's Efforts to Calm Tensions Suspect in Kansas Shootings Faces Murder Charges Ukraine: Military Recaptures Eastern Airport Raw: Storm Topples RVs Near Miss. Gulf Coast NASA Showcases Lunar Eclipse Pistorius Cries During Final Cross-Examination The Boston Marathon Bombing: One Year Later Michael Phelps Set to Come Out of Retirement First Women Move to Army Platoon Artillery Jobs Sex Offenders Charged in Serial Killings Police: Woman Stored Dead Babies in Garage OC Serial Murder Suspects May Have More Victims Family: 2 Shot in Head at Kan. Jewish Center Raw: Horse Jumping Inspires 'Bunny Hop' After Attack, Officials Kill 5 Bears in Florida Popular Science Honors Year's Top Inventions ND Oil Boom Attracting Drug Traffickers
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Weather Radar