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POW's in Dundy County

Printed in the Benkelman, NE Post, May 26, 1944

POW Camp MarkerForty-five German prisoners of war are laboring on Dundy County farms today for the first time as the establishment of the Prisoner of War side camp has been completed after months of planning. The first jobs undertaken by the prisoners are in the cornfields of the county where three crews of 15 men are now engaged. On Thursday morning the labor groups moved into the cornfields of Magnus Fries, Otto Becker and Chris Nordhausen and will continue the work until the last of the long string of applications have been taken care of in due form.

The camp is located north of Pierce Lake north of Benkelman on Highway 61, where some seven buildings of a prefabricated nature have been erected to furnish living quarters, a kitchen and a shower room for the 53 prisoners and the guards which number 16 enlisted men, 3 noncommissioned officers and Lt. Campbell who is in charge. The prisoners who do not work in the fields are on camp maintenance detail and work in the kitchen. An electrical generating unit provides light for the buildings and the command boundaries which are lighted at night.

This is the third side camp established from the Indianola camp which will soon be used only as an emergency camp with the main camp to be located at Atlanta, this state. The other side camps are at Hayes Center and Palisade.

The Army pays the prisoners 80 cents per day when they are working and the difference in their earning power in the cornfields is retained by the government to defray camp expenses. Farmers pay for the services received at different figures ranging from 12 cents to 25 cents per bushel for corn picked according to the different acreage production with the better corn receiving the lower rate and the poor stands the higher rate.

(Researcher note:  The historical marker is 8.5 miles north of Benkelman.)

Printed in the Benkelman, NE Post, September 29, 1944

POWs in Dundy County

Last Saturday morning Major Coverdell, Commander of the Prisoner of War Camp at Indianola, came out to inspect the prisoner of war camp located north of Benkelman and made a survey to determine what would have to be done to make it suitable for housing prisoners this fall and winter.

The camp was built for summer use and for that reason much work will have to be done to put it in shape for winter, if we are to have it occupied by prisoners of war. The buildings will have to be sealed and some insulation put in as well as heating stoves obtained, light plant secured and the water system insulated and revamped to prevent freezing. All of the equipment that is bought will have to be obtained by the local association, and then if impossible to get it all, the army will try to secure the equipment needed.

The Association directors will meet soon to make plans when complete information on the work to be done is secured.

Under the new practice prisoners will not be paid a flat rate of 80c a day as last year but will be paid on a percentage figure of 80c, which they will receive if they pick a standard amount of corn per day. The maximum amount they can receive is $1.20 a day, and they may receive less than 80c. This method of payment it is believed will encourage a greater number of bushels picked a day by each prisoner.

There are more applications now on hand for the use of prisoners than the total farmers who used them last year.

While prisoners of war are not the most satisfactory way of getting the corn out, nevertheless it may mean the prevention of waste, and each bushel picked means another 56 pounds of corn to add to our food supply.

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