1943— Obersturmbannführer Lt. Colonel Carl von Glasow and his fellow battle-weary officers of Rommel’s 15th Panzer Division, Afrika Corps, have endured the humiliation of surrendering to the Allies in Tunisia. Resigned to riding out the war in a North African prisoner of war camp they are surprised to learn they are being shipped to a U.S. Army POW camp in America. Nothing prepares them for the vivid contrast between the burning sands of the Tunisian desert and the murderous tank wars they waged there, and the small, peaceful and idyllic Georgia coastal island town of Sorrel Island.
During the summer the population swells as mainlanders from nearby Savannah alight from the daily Central of Georgia trains or drive over the causeway in their Ford Deluxe Fordors and Chrysler 66s. Vacationers flock to the pristine beaches, revel in the cool saltwater breezes, and enjoy the amusement pier with its Ferris wheel and the music pavilion that host traveling big band tours.German POWs board train to American camps
Referred to in hushed tones as the “Nazi camp” by the locals, and Nazilager by the inmates who still proudly wear their sand-colored desert fighting uniforms, the camp incites disturbing emotions. The coastal islanders are nervous about sharing their idyllic community with German POWs. Though they couldn’t feel further away from the ravages of the far away war they are not immune from it. The persistent chatter on the beaches and in the hotels and rooming houses is the likelihood of a prisoner escape.
On the day the camp opens, and as prisoners arriving from Tunisia are being marched through town, one of them breaks rank and is shot by guards. A groundswell of opposition and fear from vacationers and year-around residents erupts at once. Young first-term town council president and mayor, Connie Hopkins, does her best to assuage their fears all the while confronting her own feelings when Major Bill Ferguson, the camp’s assistant commandant, launches a campaign to seduce her.
But behind the fences and guard towers, and inside their wooden barracks and mess halls, several renegade Nazi officers are embarking on a plan to escape to neutral Argentina. And when Lt. Colonel von Glasow, the Panzer regiment commander learns of the plan his mettle is tested as he makes the most fateful decision of his life. (300 pages)
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