Interlude in Umbarger
Italian POWs and a Texas Church
Published by: Texas Tech University Press
Imprint: Texas Tech University Press
- Published: July 2017
Interned in a camp at Hereford in the Texas panhandle, more than 3,000 Italian POWs spent the last years of World War II an ocean away from their family and friends. In the last year of the war, the prisoners suffered a siege of hunger dictated by government-ordered cutbacks in rations. The men called this episode la fame and found it difficult to supplement their meager meals. A handful of men in camp were artists, and it was this small group of prisoners who struck a deal with the priest of a nearby Catholic church. In exchange for a home-cooked meal each noon, the artists agreed to decorate the plain church with murals and carvings reminiscent of the Renaissance. This compassionate story of courage and kindliness is as enduring as the artwork that still graces the walls of a modest Catholic church in a tiny Texas town.