Two Arizona stories Two stories relating to 1940s Arizona should be told at this time—one humorous and one sad. The humorous story A German prisoner-of-war camp was established in Phoenix at what is today known as Papago Park. Captured German soldiers were brought to this camp and put into the prison. Because they were prisoners, the German soldiers always dreamed of escape. Christmas 1944 saw about 25 German soldiers successfully tunnel under the fence of the camp. Their plan was to quickly move to the Salt River, steal a boat and float down the Salt and Gila Rivers to the Colorado River. Once on the Colorado River they would float to freedom by way of the Sea of Cortes. Little did the German soldiers know that the rivers of Arizona often don’t have any water flowing down them. To their disappointment, the Salt River was full of only rocks and sand. The 25 German soldiers were soon rounded up and returned to the prisoner of war camp. You can’t float down a river that has no water in it! Papago Park in Phoenix  was once the location of  a World War II prisoner of  war camp. The sad story World War II saw American citizens of Japanese descent come under great suspicion. For the first time, and hopefully the last time ever, a group of American citizens had their American citizenship rights revoked just because of their ancestry. Japanese Americans from across the West were moved into ten different internment camps in the spring and summer of 1942. An internment camp was like a prison. People could not freely come and go. These Americans lost all their property and civil rights simply because their ancestors had come from Japan. They had committed no crime but they lost their freedom. Chapter 13 • Changing Arizona  129