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Jürgen Sperber Letters, Documents, and Other Materials Regarding Camp Crossville

 Collection
Identifier: MS-3464

The first folder in this collection consists primarily of postcards and letters that Jürgen Sperber wrote to his wife and his parents while he was incarcerated in Camp Crossville, Tennessee. In them, he replies to news that his correspondents have conveyed earlier and reports on his life in camp. Among the subjects he discusses are his desire to see his family, the food in camp, his studies at the camp university, and his hobbies. This folder also includes partial translations of this correspondence, biographical information regarding Sperber, and photographs of Jürgen and Hanna-Lisa Sperber. The second folder houses documents showing Sperber's military service, his participation in Camp Crossville's school, and his discharge from the Luftwaffe. All of the documents in this collection are copies of the originals.

Dates

  • 1940 August 27-1947 December 22

Conditions Governing Access

Collections are stored offsite, and a minimum of 2 business days are needed to retrieve these items for use. Researchers interested in consulting any of the collections are advised to contact Special Collections.

Conditions Governing Use

The copyright interests in this collection remain with the creator. For more information, contact the Special Collections Library.

Extent

0.1 Linear Feet

Abstract

The first folder in this collection consists primarily of postcards and letters that Jürgen Sperber wrote to his wife and his parents while he was incarcerated in Camp Crossville, Tennessee. In them, he replies to news that his correspondents have conveyed earlier and reports on his life in camp. Among the subjects he discusses are his desire to see his family, the food in camp, his studies at the camp university, and his hobbies. This folder also includes partial translations of this correspondence, biographical information regarding Sperber, and photographs of Jürgen and Hanna-Lisa Sperber. The second folder houses documents showing Sperber's military service, his participation in Camp Crossville's school, and his discharge from the Luftwaffe. All of the documents in this collection are copies of the originals.

Biographical/Historical Note

Jürgen Sperber was born in Braunschweig, Germany on November 27, 1917. Although he was never a member of the Nazi Party, he was part of the Hitler Youth from January of 1935 to March of 1937. Sperber was conscripted into the Luftwaffe on January 4, 1937 and assigned to the Luftnachrichtenabteilung 41 (a signal section of the Luftwaffe). He worked in the Reichsarbeitsdienst (Reich Labor Service) until October 7, 1937 and participated in the invasion of Poland, the Battle of Crete (where he earned the Iron Cross, second class), and the invasion of Russia before being sent to North Africa. Sperber and another soldier were captured in Tunisia on November 25, 1942 after mistaking American soldiers for Italians. He was transferred to the U. S. by way of Algiers and Liverpool, England, eventually arriving at the German Officers' Camp (Deutsches Offizierslager) in Crossville, Tennessee. Sperber seems to have found camp life agreeable and took up oil painting in addition to studying French and Russian at the camp university. Eventually, he became proficient enough to teach French himself. Sperber also took correspondence courses from the University of Minnesota and completed a degree in accounting. After the war ended, he was repatriated to Germany and discharged from the Luftwaffe on January 26, 1946.

After his discharge, Sperber returned to Braunschweig, where his wife (Hanna-Lisa), her parents, and their son were living in a crowded attic. Sperber went to work as an accountant for a wine merchant, which provided enough money to improve their conditions significantly. He later earned a certificate as a teacher of foreign languages at Oxford University in Great Britain and went on to teach secondary English in Braunschweig. Sperber was also instrumental in establishing a Volkshochschule (continuing education) program in his hometown and managed the first adult exchange program with Kingston upon Hull, England. Jürgen Sperber died in Braunschweig on January 24, 2002.

Arrangement

This collection consists of a single folder

Acquisition Note

Jürgen Sperber Jr. donated these materials to the Center for the Study of War and Society on January 7, 2010.

Repository Details

Part of the Betsey B. Creekmore Special Collections and University Archives, University of Tennessee, Knoxville Repository

Contact:
University of Tennessee, Knoxville
Knoxville TN 37996 USA
865-974-4480