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Original U.S. WWII Axis Prisoner of War PW Painted Uniform Jacket

Regular price $595.00

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Item Description

Original Item: One-of-a-Kind. WWII POW Prisoner of War Coat. Repurposed GI Uniform, This jacket was reissued to an Axis Prisoner of War, most likely on the American Homefront.

As World War II raged on the other side of the globe, Allies, such as Great Britain, were running short of prison space to house POWs. From 1942 through 1945, 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 but also in the Great Plains and Midwest.

At the same time that the prison camps were filling up, farms and factories across America were struggling with acute labor shortages. The United States faced a dilemma. According to Geneva Convention protocols, POWs could be forced to work only if they were paid, but authorities were afraid of mass escapes that would endanger the American people. Eventually, they relented and put tens of thousands of enemy prisoners to work, assigning them to canneries and mills, to farms to harvest wheat or pick asparagus, and just about any other place they were needed and could work with minimum security.

The Prisoners of War sent to the United States were still clothed with their enemy uniform in which they were captured. Having to cloth Prisoners of War was yet another issue the U.S. Government has to contend with. The solution was to issue enemy POWs with reissued GI garments, obsolete garments, or factory defect garments. These items were occasionally dyed a different color, or simply stenciled with “P.W” (Prisoner War) on the front and back.  

This particular garment is a GI issue Summer-weight khaki A-Blouse reissued to an Axis Prisoner of War. The jacket was most likely a factory reject, as there is some damage to the jacket (holes in the back, and a piece of material missing in the front).  The coat was dyed a dark blue. Note that the jacket was redyed with the factory cutter tags still on) and painted with white “PW” on both the front and back. These are seldom found items today, as most were destroyed at the end of WWII following the release of the prisoners. Size is approximately a US 36.
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