of War in Texas
by Heino R. Erichsen
The Reluctant Warrior
Former German POW Finds Peace in Texas
As told to Jean Nelson-Erichsen
Eakin Press, 2001
Reviewed by John Troesser
HERE - Amazon.com
coverage of the German POW camps in The Reluctant Warrior was how
we found the book - and there are enough certainly enough details
to satisfy the WWII researcher. That is why we are including this
review here in our World War II Chronicles. The story of Heino's very
important work with children around the world is an added bonus. -
Mr. Erichsen has an incredible memory. It would be hard to find a
more detailed account of the everyday life of the German enlisted
soldier during WWII.
We're given a tour of Mr. Heino R. Erichsen's hometown, his training
and his first assignment which ironically is "occupying" his Mother's
How do you say 'hurry up and wait" in German?
After passing the required tests for the elite Afrika Korps, we're
given the details of his training and transportation of the unit to
Any veteran of any army will recognize familiar territory here. Heino
R. Erichsen 's unit was unaware of the big picture and by the time
the Allied drive came - it was over before they knew what was happening.
Heino and the surviving members of his unit walked back to the port
where they waited to be formally captured. While waiting - they discovered
that the rear-echelon German troops had had the choicest of rations
- while they had been eating "iron-rations". That's another fact that
is no surprise to veterans.
Heino could speak English from his schooldays and it paid off in many
ways. He was able to converse with American guards and also the civilian
workers who worked at the several POW Camps where he was a "guest"
of the government. He had his expensive watch ( a gift from his parents)
'liberated" by an English guard - but his narrative is that of a mature
man looking back without rancor.
While the prisoners were treated well - there was discord within the
ranks due to die-hard Nazis who intimidated the regular soldiers who
just wanted to sit the war out and correspond with their families.
Due to this sort of trouble - Heino transferred from Hearne to Mexia
- another Texas base not connected to a military post. He then moved
to Fort Knox, Kentucky for the duration of the war.
Repatriation didn't come at once for the prisoners and Heino spent
two more years working on Scottish farms before finally returning
to the shambles of his heavily bombed hometown.
He arrived home to a crippled Germany with little opportunity. He
immigrated to the U. S. and every twist and turn is described in fascinating
detail. He eventually finds himself back and Texas - in Huntsville
But while the book up until this point has been a good historical
read - the really important story is just getting started.
Heino and his wife adopt a few children and then a few more. They
start working with an international adoption agency and Heino find
themselves running a children's home in Belize - travelling to Guatemala
and Columbia and even Vietnam.
Today Heino and His wife Jean run Los Ninos International Adoption
Center in Huntsille, Texas.
Heino's odyssey through the second half of the 20th Century and his
observations of human nature are entertaining, informative, uplifting
and not without humor.
War II Chronicles
World War I Chronicles
© John Troesser