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Annual POW Memorial Ceremony at McClellan Re-opens to the Public

The Annual Prisoner-of-War Memorial Ceremony will be held on Sunday, November 20, 2022 at 1:30 p.m. at the German Italian Memorial Cemetery in Anniston, AL, honoring the lives of 26 German soldiers and 3 Italian soldiers who are buried there. The ceremony will feature German and Italian military representatives and the family of one of the interred German soldiers.

The POW Memorial Ceremony has been held at McClellan each year for more than four decades. This year, the public is invited again to join in honoring these fallen soldiers, following a few years of private ceremonies. Once conducted by the U.S. Army, local civilians assumed the responsibility of the annual event after Fort McClellan closed, upholding the traditional format established by the military.

Of the 29 soldiers buried in the German Italian Memorial Cemetery, only four were interned at Fort McClellan as a POW. The others were moved to McClellan’s German Italian Cemetery from various POW cemeteries in the Southeast United States following closure or consolidation. Peter Goelhaeuser, the grandson of interred German Obergefreiter Peter Gnau, will be travelling with his daughter Anna-Sophie and sister Hedwig from their home in Marburg, Germany to attend the ceremony. Though he never knew his grandfather, he strives to keep his memory alive.

“Even though I have attended this Annual Memorial Service for many years, I am always moved by the honor and respect given these former enemies,” said Joan McKinney, former Fort McClellan employee who has been researching the POW Camp and Cemetery for more than three decades. “As one dignitary said at a previous service, ‘Somebody loved these men and they are not here to remember them, so we will.'”

“We are honored to have this historic ceremony back open to the public this year,” said Julie Moss, Director of the McClellan Development Authority. “This ceremony is an important part of the history of the former Fort McClellan. The McClellan Development Authority is pleased to see as many traditions as possible continue to take place on the former Army base.”

“It’s been a long two years for everyone. As we try to get back some semblance of normalcy, we first venture out to things that mean the most to us. For hundreds of us, we’ll be back at the ceremony at the German Italian Prisoner of War cemetery [on] November 20th,” said U.S. Army Sergeant-Major (Retired) Thom Cole. “This is always a very touching commemoration. Everyone attends for their own reasons. Out of bitter enemies, we have become staunch allies. As we mourn the loss of these men and their families, we come together to commemorate their sacrifice and loss.”

The German Italian Memorial Cemetery is located at 3541 Shipley Rd, Anniston, AL 36205. In the event of inclement weather, the service will be held at the Cane Creek Community Gardens at 77 Justice Ave, Anniston, AL 36205. For more information, visit the POW Memorial Ceremony Facebook event listing at

Ceremony Schedule

POW Memorial Ceremony Schedule:

1. Welcome – Thom Cole, Moderator

2. Introduction and Opening Remarks – LTC Easterling, PMS JSU ROTC

3. Invocation – JSU ROTC Chaplain

4. Presentation of Colors – Jacksonville State University Army ROTC

5. History of the POW Camp and Cemetery – Tom Gilbert

6. Introduction of Honored Guests: Family of Obergefreiter Peter Gnau – Thom Cole

7. Wreath Laying – German Representative LTC Siegfried Domabyl • Italian Representative LTC Andrea Lopreiato • American Representative LTC Travis Easterling

8. Remarks by the German Representative – LTC Domabyl

9. Remarks by the Italian Representative – LTC Lopreiato

10. Remarks by the American Representative – LTC Easterling

11. Closing – Thom Cole

POWs Buried at the German Italian Memorial Cemetery

Alfred Adler (Died November 11, 1944)

Albert Heinrich Barthelmess (Died December 4, 1944)

Marcel Beck (Died November 14, 1943)

Paul Bornmann (Died July 20, 1944)

Alfred Christoph (Died September 28, 1944)

Fritz Clemens (Died February 7, 1944)

Werner Elflein (Died July 18, 1944)

Willy Fischer (Died January 31, 1945)

Karl Frank (Died August 21, 1945)

Peter Gnau (Died November 11, 1944)

Gunter Hoever (Died August 25, 1943)

Giuseppe Iacoboni (Died March 4, 1944)

Otto Jaeckel (Died September 16, 1945)

Richard Jaeckel (Died November 3, 1945)

Kurt Knopf (Died May 1, 1945)

Josef Kohl (Died January 25, 1944)

Karl Krause (Died June 8, 1945)

Walter Lienert (Died April 30, 1944)

Erich Nachtigall (Died February 20, 1946)

Waldemar Ott (Died July 20, 1944)

Friedrich Rauschenberg (Died August 18, 1943)

Heinz Reinke (Died September 13, 1944)

Rolf Schneider (Died August 6, 1943)

Heinrich Schorr (Died May 28, 1945)

Hans Schuberth (Died April 4, 1945)

Resorie Spera (Died August 24, 1943)

Otto F. Ulrich (Died September 12, 1943)

Vincenzo Vernacchio (Died February 17, 1944)

Willi Waechter (Died July 29, 1943)


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