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The Doodles of World War II Prisoners

Illustrations from the private papers of four U.S. soldiers

Tens of thousands of American citizens were held captive as prisoners of war during World War Two and the experience of capture and imprisonment, whether in Europe, the CBI theater, Pacific or other internment camps, inspired a great deal of artwork. Art provided a creative outlet for many throughout long months and sometimes years of imprisonment. The following exhibit includes a selection of artwork from the wartime logs of Edward Shaw, Chester Strunk, George Vasil and Joseph J. Veronick produced during their respective periods of captivity in German POW camps, along with an oral history by Harold Noel, a fellow POW. For additional content from these collections, all of which are sourced from The National WWII Museum, New Orleans, please see the Adam Matthew Digital product, “America in World War Two: Oral Histories and Personal Accounts.”

Illustrations from the private papers of four U.S. soldiers

From "Memoirs of a Prisoner of War," a 77-page, wartime POW diary of George S. Vasil, B-17 Navigator, 8th Air Force.

Elaborately drawn, colorful illustrations, Vasil's renderings were both a way to pass the time and a valuable record of the enemy's incarceration methods.  Should a soldier escape, this kind of intelligence could play a pivotal role in freeing his battle buddies.

This detailed watercolor rendering of the concertina surrounding his prison camp and the positioning of a guard tower is one of the finer examples among the collection.