As told by my father-in-law, Harold Hoffpauir, who lived his entire life in Rayne except for his tour of duty in the Navy during the Korean War.
During WWII, there was a POW Camp in Rayne. According to what I was told, it would be near where the Frog Festival Grounds are now; adjacent to I-10.
My father-in-law and one of his good friends, upon hearing about the German POW Camp, became curious and were anxious to see what a German soldier looked like, as they only knew what they heard on the radio and read in the newspapers. They rode their bicycles out to the camp. When they arrived, there were soldiers guarding the prisoners. They talked to one guard and he allowed them to peek through the fence to see the POW’s. They were stunned to see that they (the prisoners) looked like ordinary people. They had envisioned that the prisoners were some sort of “beast-like” creatures, based on what they had gathered from the media and their own imagination. While there, another soldier (dressed differently) drove up in a jeep. He must have been some type of U.S. officer and made the boys leave immediately. My father-in-law said that the officer then started chewing out the soldier who had allowed them to peek through the fence. He told me he could still hear the officer yelling for a long distance as he rode his bike home.
It should be noted that my father-in-law was about 13 years old at the time. There were over 279 prisoners held in Rayne [link to photos]. It should also be noted that Rayne was probably strategically selected, as the nearby village of Robert’s Cove was settled by German immigrants who even in the mid 20th century spoke primarily German. Robert’s Cove today is bilingual and holds an annual German Fest.
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