DOTHAN, Ala. (WDHN) — During World War II Prisoner of War camps were run by the Germans. There were around 1,000 POW camps in Germany.
However, Germans weren’t the only ones with these types of camps, German military members were also held as prisoners.
More than 400,000 Axis prisoners were shipped to the United States and detained in camps in rural areas across the country. Some 500 POW facilities were built, mainly in the South and Southwest including one right here in Dothan.
Six years ago, Eddie Donaldson acquired the building now known as the Windmill Station, however, he didn’t know it played an important role in local history. The building once served as a Civilian Conservation Corps facility in the 1930s before becoming a Prisoner of War camp for German soldiers during World War II.
“They needed a place to put prisoners from Germany, so they housed them in several of these locations throughout the state,” Eddie Donaldson said. “This was one of them, and the Germans went out and worked the crops at that point, farmers came out and picked them up and from what we’ve heard the Germans loved it here.”
Donaldson said that he’s lived in Dothan for 50 years without knowing and that he’s met people who have lived their entire lives here who didn’t know.
“Somebody stopped by and was talking to us about this place, and they said well you know this used to be a prison,” Donaldson said. “Never knew, had any idea there was a prison camp here, now my uncle was with Couch Construction, and he repaired the dam that was back here behind the building when he was like 16.”
Donaldson has also worked on preserving as much of the original look and character of the buildings as possible by saving and reusing materials where he could.
“What we did, we’re in construction, so we used repurposed material, all these old rusty wall panels that you see they all came off the old metal building that’s out back,” Donaldson said. “We used them to redo the walls and then on the outside also, so we’ve tried to reuse everything we could.”
Donaldson believes that history is a part of everybody, and he wants to share this part of history with others, and that if anyone wants to take a tour of the building they are more than welcome to.
You can call them at (334) 790-7213 to set up a time to go and visit.