To the editor:
I am writing this in response to the June 8 article in the Journal-World, “Germans at Lawrence POW camp. There were three sponsors of the POWs: W.J. Small Co., Kaw Valley Potato Growers and Columbus Food Corp. I worked in the office of the W.J. Small Co. I was not allowed to talk to them, and they were not allowed to come into the office where I worked. An army officer was assigned to see that orders were obeyed.
One day I noticed a group of POWs talking to the workers. Shortly, the assistant manager came in with a beautiful carved wooden box and said it was for sale for a carton of cigarettes. I did not smoke, but I knew where I could get cigarettes. I still have the box.
The prisoners did not pick peas by hand; the pea vines were mechanically cut and loaded on trailers and hauled to the pea shellers. The vines were pitched by the POWs into a machine that separated the peas from the vines. The vines were blown into large stacks and allowed to ferment over a period of time. The resulting pea ensilage was used for cattle feed.
The W.J. Small Company dehydrated alfalfa into a powder used in animal feed. The alfalfa was cut and loaded in the same manner as the peas only the alfalfa was pitched into a big hot air drum which removed the moisture and turned it into a fine green powder.
The prisoners were paid ten cents an hour as war agricultural laborers. The camp closed Nov. 16, 1945.