I found myself facing an interesting question this week when doing research for my work in progress. How would the German prisoner-of-war camp in New Ulm, Minnesota return the correct laundry to each of the POWs? Not too many people consider this an important topic today, but with my mind mostly in the past these days, I found this an intriguing question.
|Notice the PW stamped onto the legs of their pants.|
They were described simply as WW II Military Laundry Markers used to keep track of each person's laundry. I would imagine that they were found more often at training camps in the States and not in the field of operations. Who would have time to do laundry at all in the middle of a war, much less try to keep track of a person's laundry?
Now it's time for some brainstorming to answer the questions in my head--how were these used in a WW II prison camp? I'm imagining that the laundry marker pins would not be given to each of the POWs (or PWs as they were known then) since that pin would certainly be used to cause damage to a guard on duty, or fellow prisoners. So, then I'm imagining that the Germans who were assigned to the laundry duty would have the pins in the laundry room and attach them to the PW's clothes as they were brought in. As you see in the picture of the complete set below, drawer C1 has several pins in the drawer, so prisoner C1's clothes would all be pinned with his specific number.
|Complete set of military laundry pins set C1-C24|
That means that a German PW doing laundry duty would be handed a pile of dirty clothes from PW C22. The worker would then pin C-22 onto all the clothing, throw it into the washing machine with all the other marked clothes. When they'd be clean and dry, the worker would make a pile of C-22 clothes and return it to whoever C22 was with the pins taken out.
In reality who knows what it was like, but in my third novel, that's the way I'll portray it. Now you can see how this is such an important and life-changing research topic. Not really! In the long manuscript of a novel, this small fact may appear on only one or two pages, but it was important enough to me to take the time to research and find out as much as I could about it. It happens all the time in the life of a writer.
May your week be filled with more important facts than this one!!
Information taken from World-War-2-Military-Laundry-Marker-Pin