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German POW Camp – Charleston, South Carolina

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UPDATE: This structure was torn down on Thursday, November 19, 2015.

Tucked away on an undeveloped lot along the Ashley River in Charleston sits a fireplace with an intact chimney. At first glance, the brick structure looks like the neglected remnant of a fashionable outdoor living space; in reality, the chimney is anything but a stylish component of modern landscaping. Upon closer inspection of the chimney, one can read a plaque at the top that says, “German Prisoners of War 19.1.1945.” The chimney and fireplace were built by German soldiers.

POW Camp Chimney

Darrell Parker of North Charleston, 2014 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

Another plaque adorns the back of the chimney. It lists four names, most likely belonging to German prisoners who stayed here. The fireplace is all that remains from this World War II prisoner of war camp that housed Germans at the end of the war. The camp that was established here was one of five such camps around Charleston. The camps were rudimentary, consisting mostly of tents and rustic buildings. Following the war, new neighborhoods such as this one were developed as soldiers returned and people started families. Local lore says that a former building in this camp was used for neighborhood gatherings for years after the war.

German POW Chimney

Darrell Parker of North Charleston, 2014 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

The chimney stands as a reminder of the 500 German soldiers who were imprisoned here on an 18-acre tract of land secured by barbed wire and guard towers, and the current property owners want it demolished or removed. The lot is currently owned by an old Charleston family of Jewish faith, and the family wants the structure gone not only to resolve a larger drainage issue with the lot but also because the concrete reminder of the atrocities committed by Nazis is too painful to bear.

German POW Camp

Darrell Parker of North Charleston, 2014 © Do Not Use Without Written Consent

In June of 2014 the chimney was officially denied protected historic status by Charleston’s Planning Commission. The family has yet to tear down the chimney, offering it to any one who believes it is worth preserving for historical reasons. Though many residents think the artifact should remain intact as a piece of history, so far no one has offered to relocate the chimney to another site.

German POW Camp Info

Address: 817 Colony Drive, Charleston, SC 29407
GPS Coordinates: 32.787088,-79.979641

German POW Camp Map

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5 Comments about German POW Camp

Coleman GlazeNo Gravatar says:
January 15th, 2018 at 4:49 pm

My older brother Marion entered in to the camp under an American soldier disguise. The went in an ate and left undetected. His buddies were guards.

Sandra LudwaNo Gravatar says:
December 24th, 2016 at 10:25 am

It’s history and we need to preserve all we can to remind people of our past.

Joanne KruegerNo Gravatar says:
June 2nd, 2016 at 10:33 pm

I lived in Avondale and rode my bike over to the prison camp when I was 12 or 13 years old with a girl friend and we talked to the prisoners but we couldn’t speak German and they couldn’t speak English. My mother would have killed me if she knew that. I am 85 now.

Sandra Halsey says:
January 18th, 2015 at 1:41 am

It would certainly be a shame to demolish it. It's a part of history. Sure wish I could move it to my home on John's Island. Would love to have it.

Holly Hatfield Davis says:
January 16th, 2015 at 8:06 pm

I hope it’s not torn down…..I know if a bunker foxhole with a moat near here too unless it’s been demolished. Preserve what we can of history.

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