Date of Award
Master of Arts
In 1942 successful Allied campaigns against Adolf Hitler's Wehrmact in North Africa led to widespread captures of Axis prisoners. The British landscape could not accommodate the increasing number of prisoners, forcing them to call upon the United States to aid in prisoner of war (POW) internment. The number of POWs in the United States grew from fewer than 5,000 in April 1943 to more than 130,000 by mid-August. At the conclusion of the Second World War, the United States had interned more than 400,000 Axis prisoners of war in more than 400 camps across the United States. Prisoner-of-war camps provided civilian employers with desperately needed laborers, prompting the establishment of camps in locations that needed them most. The Kossuth County town of Algona, in northern Iowa, and the Page County town of Clarinda, in southwest Iowa, experienced the construction of such camps. Building prisoner-of-war camps near Algona and Clarinda placed the citizens of these communities in an uneasy position. Faced with an acute shortage of laborers, these Iowans turned to enemies for help. Camp officials deliberately and systematically engineered a positive relationship between the camps and local communities. This positive relationship fostered the acceptance and employment of the enemy prisoners and contributed to the success of the camp's labor program. Acceptance for many community members did not mean an unquestioning fondness or affection for the prisoners, but rather an understanding that acceptance meant remaining loyal and contributing to the war effort. Although not always economically profitable, prisoner of war labor allowed local canneries, hemp plants, nurseries, and area farmers to meet their wartime production gaols, permitting Iowans to help the war effort. This thesis will examine the concerted effort by camp officials to create a relationship with the surrounding communities that proved mutually beneficial while discussing the success of Camp Algona's and Camp Clarinda's prisoner-of-war labor program from 1943-1946.
Chad William Timm
Timm, Chad William, "Axis prisoners of war in Iowa, 1943-1946 : harvesting fields of dreams" (2003). Retrospective Theses and Dissertations. 17507.