Mom’s WWII memories inspired Pace’s novel

Published 12:36 am Friday, August 26, 2016

In a lifetime of stories, it was only two years ago that Andalusia native Beverly Pace heard her parents mention German POWs working in Andalusia during World War II.

“I was so curious about that, and was wondering why I”d never heard this story before,” she told members of the Covington Historical Society Thursday night. “I began to question my parents.”

Author Beverly Nall Pace, an Andalusia native, is shown with Sue Bass Wilson and Jan White at last night's Covington Historical Society meeting.

Author Beverly Nall Pace, an Andalusia native, is shown with Sue Bass Wilson and Jan White at last night’s Covington Historical Society meeting.

Joe and Sybil Nall told her as much as they could.

“My mama answered as many questions as she could, and told me what war time was like in Andalusia,” Pace recalled. “I was just amazed at how many German POWs there were in Alabama. We hear so much about our Civil War history and our Civil Rights history. But there are so many more fascinating aspects about we never know about.

Pace also visited a museum in Opelika and read as much as she could about this part of World War II history.

“While I researched this, I thought about the culture clash of Germans with Alabamians,” the retired teacher said. “The idea of a novel started forming in my head. I had taught English for a long, long time, and always wondered if I could write a novel myself. That’s what I did.”

Her book, “Song of Alabama,” is set in a small Alabama town that she said is based on Andalusia.

“I knew a few things wanted to include,” she said. “I wanted to share the history of the event; write about the Andalusia I knew growing up; and incorporate the religious values I grew up with. It is fiction, but I incorporated the stories my mom told me.”

Much of the work came from her imagination, she said.

“It was so interesting that after my book came out, I heard from people whose experiences were so similar to the ones I only imagined,” she said. “During WWII, they captured so many prisoners, they found it almost impossible to house, feed and guard them all while fighting. So they set up POW camps in the United States.”

Camps were established in 46 states, she said.

Pace said she learned in her research that after the war, it took the POWs a while to get back to Germany. Many first went to England and France to work. When they returned to Germany, it was chaos there.

“Much of the country was destroyed; their families were dead, missing or scattered. On top of that, East Germany authorities considered them contaminated by Western thought.”

Fellow Germans also felt the POWs had not suffered as people in Germany had.

There were a number of camps in Alabama, she said, and it appears from her research, POWs from a camp at what is now Ft. Rucker were sent here to work. Eventually, rather than travel each day, they camped behind what is now the Catholic church.

In her acknowledgements, Pace, who moved away when she was 10, wrote, “I would also like to acknowledge the town that gave me roots, Andalusia, Alabama. There are still places in this world where trust is built, goodness abounds, and faith in God is a way of life; and I was fortunate enough to be born there.”

The book is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Google play. A book signing is planned at LAAC later this fall.