ROSWELL, N.M. (KRQE) – A popular internet show is highlighting a piece of New Mexico history: a World War II POW camp for Nazis in Roswell. The show focuses on a secret message those German prisoners left behind.
“Roswell was far more than a town that had to do with a crash that happened with aliens,” says InRange TV host, Karl Kasarda.
Now one historian is highlighting a more concrete piece of the city’s history.
“The German POWs left behind a little artistic treat to their captors,” Kasarda says.
In the InRange TV video, host Karl Kasarda leads viewers to Orchard Park where more than 4,000 German World War II prisoners of war were used for local labor in the 1940s.
“About 50 of them were brought to this river bed behind me to channelize it and improve it to prevent flood erosion. They were taking rocks from the local area and embedding it and putting it into a wall to make it an approved river bed,” Kasarda says.
Those POWs left behind an iron cross, the famous German military medal.
“These POWs are there in this camp and they are enemies of this country as essentially losers, and they built this thing in the wall as kind of like this fighting spirit,” Kasarda says.
At one point, the cross was covered up by the city.
“Eventually the concrete wore off through just general erosion, and as a result, I think it actually was protectant because I think it actually preserved it,” Kasarda says.
Locals say they don’t mind seeing the iron cross.
“History will repeat itself if we don’t learn from it. People should know. Although a very unfortunate event in Roswell’s history, we should learn from it,” says Tyler Herring.
They would also like to see the city do more to bring attention to the historic area.
“It would be nice if the city could light it or seal it off a little bit better at night. Maybe even put up a sign. There’s not really any signage,” Herring says.
The video has gotten 20,000 views in three days. Arizona-based Kasarda says he hopes to share history in a way that people can relate to.
“If we can look at the troubling past and realize the humanity that’s still there, and focus on the humanity we have in ourselves, we create a future, a better history than what we have,” Kasarda says.
InRange TV has more than 750 videos, many of them focusing on New Mexico, including topics Pancho Villa and Billy the Kid. In fact, the production company is planning a whole series on Lincoln County.