I can’t remember exactly what year it was but WWII was still going on. Our friends, the Watsons, had invited our family to take a drive one weekend to Peabody, Kansas to see the Prisoner of War Camp.
Peabody is a small farming town about 60 miles northwest of Augusta. It’s surprising to think that it was the location of a German prisoner-of-war camp during the war. When I was older, I learned how it came to be that there were several prison camps in Kansas and in other states as well. During WWII all of our able-bodied men were either in the service or working in a job that was critical to the war effort. There was no one left to plant or harvest the crops that were so desperately needed. A lot of the women were working in the factories as “Rosie the Riveter” or some other much needed capacity.
Someone came up with a plan to use the captured German prisoners as farm-hands and it worked out well. If you would like to learn more about it, check the Internet. I did a search on “German P.O.W. Camps in Kansas” and found a lot of information.
Getting back to our trip, we kids were a little bit apprehensive about going. Every day we heard the news about the Germans killing millions of people. We heard about how they gassed them and some people were skinned and lamp shades were made from the skins. Altogether, we thought we would be facing some real monsters and the idea was pretty scary.
We got there and the compound was a large area contained by chain-link fencing. The place was full of men in black uniforms, some sitting and some standing, and all of them just taking it easy. Our Dads, Al and Frank, went up to the fence and started talking to a couple of the older men who spoke English. After a time, Jack and I got a little closer so we could look things over. What we saw were a bunch of young guys much like we would see on the streets of our town. This was not the dreaded SS. They may have been brave and loyal soldiers but they were just kids. They were probably thankful for 3 squares a day and a chance to work without being shot at.
Well, more lessons learned. You might enjoy spending a few minutes researching this.
May 10, 2016