Letters to the Editor

Letter: POW memories

June 13, 2014


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.


Ginny Hedges 3 years, 10 months ago

Thank you for the interesting details, Pauline.

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