20th Century, farming, History, Intercession, Minnesota, Uncategorized, World War II

Prisoners of War

Moorhead

September 4, 1943 to 1946
One hundred fifty German POWs sit out the war at Camp Number One near Moorhead, a branch camp of the base camp at Algona, Iowa. Farmers short of help pay the government 40 cents an hour for their labor.

Camps were located in or near Ada, Bena, Bird Island, Crookston, Deer River, Fairmont, Faribault, Grand Rapids, Hollandale, Howard Lake, Montgomery, Moorhead, New Ulm, Olivia, Ortonville, Owatonna, Remer, Saint Charles, Warren, and Wells.*

During the span of World War II, approximately 425,000 German, Italian, and Japanese soldiers were taken as prisoners of war and held in the United States. Once in the U.S., the prisoners were disbursed to about 700 camps in 46 states. The prison network had roughly 150 larger base camps, and 500 smaller branch camps.** The vast majority of these POWs were Germans who surrendered in the battlefields of Italy or North Africa. Camp Algona, in Iowa, held about 10,000 of these German prisoners who were contracted to do agricultural labor in the Midwest.***

“It was all about farm labor. Because so many young American men were overseas fighting in the war, there was a severe worker shortage. That was particularly true for agriculture, which was not considered a high-priority industry. The government offered to supply POWs on a contract basis. In accordance with the Geneva Convention, the labor could not directly help the war effort or be dangerous. Many agriculture areas took advantage, including the Red River Valley.
So, farmers Henry Peterson and Paul Horn contracted for 150 POWs to work their vegetable farms. Army inspectors at first wanted to house the prisoners in a barn near the Red River on 12th Avenue south in Moorhead, but neighbors objected and so an onion warehouse on 21st Street near 4th Avenue North was selected.”****

Algona Branch Camp Number One was created in the spring of 1944 to accommodate Minnesota farmers Henry Peterson and Paul Horn. This area, known as the Red River Valley, was renowned for its’ potato and beet production. Regional historian Kenneth Dawes said, “Local growers were in a near panic” as to how to get the crop in, and also stated that POWs “literally saved the potato and beet harvest” in the wartime years.**

Many efforts were made to protect the humanity of these detainees at Camp One. They had a plethora of recreational activities to choose from: sports, woodworking and carving, art supplies, and books. The musically inclined even gave concerts of German music to their captors. They were granted the right to attend worship services or not as they saw fit.***

Though some locals thought that POWs were being “molly-coddled”, the general consensus was that our fair treatment of Germans would be passed on to American POWs in Europe.** Yet one wonders; “What was the response of these prisoners of war to their years of captivity in America? Hartmut Lang, the Boston consulate general of the Federal Republic of Germany, gives us an astonishing testimony; ”To a German soldier then, being taken prisoner by U.S. troops amounted to winning a ticket to peace and fair treatment.”**

Now we turn to You, the Emancipator of the Human Race, and Giver of All Human Rights and ponder these stories. We humbly recall Your words that reflect Your benevolence to all; including those in prison.

“Blessed is he whose help is the G-d of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his G-d, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them- the Lord, who remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free, the Lord gives sight to the blind, the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down, the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the alien and sustains the fatherless and the widow, but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.
The Lord reigns forever, your G-d, O Zion, for all generations.
Praise the Lord.” Psalm 146:5-10 NIV *****

We thank You today for these words of King David so long ago, and that they are forever true!

We confess to You today that we, as Americans and Minnesotans, were unable to avoid war with Nazi Germany in this era, and therefore, may have participated in the deaths of both enemies and innocents. Will You have mercy on this offense?

We confess to You today that we, as Your Church, may have failed to stand prayerfully with our brothers and sisters in Europe in spite of their subjugation and conscription to an evil Fascist dictatorship. Have we righteously hated, rejected, and opposed their government as American citizens, and somehow missed that many of the citizens of Germany were already spiritual captives of Giovanni Gentile; the father of the fascist ideology? ******

Conversely, we confess the judgments of Your Church in Europe towards the United States. Did they fail to see us also as members of Your Kingdom, or only as subjects of the political dominion of America?
Will You have mercy on Your Church and its common political and socio-economic idolatry?
Will You have mercy on Your Church and our shared misbeliefs towards each other during World War II, and taking the bait of self-righteousness held out by our common Deceiver?
Will You set us free from the pride that can assert itself within patriotism, and give make us an unpretentious United States and demütig Deutschland?

Lord, we thank You for this testimony of the character of Your human beings; whether a German POW or an American Minnesotan farmer! We are thankful for the example of Algona Camp Number One and the Peterson and Horn families. Somehow, they simultaneously held up the cause of justice as to the actions of their enemies while not judging their humanity. Yes, they were prisoners, but they were prisoners made in Your Image!

O, dear Father, we so desperately need this kind wise discernment; both here in the North Star state and abroad! Will You continue to bless us to be people who love their enemies and do good for them? Will You give us strong resolve to oppose evil and love what is good and life-giving?

Will You give Your Church the gift of recognizing our dual citizenship? Though we may experience varying degrees of captivity as citizens of our nation of origin, we are also the emancipated subjects of Your Heavenly State. We were all POWs of the Accuser of Humanity, yet You served our sentence for us so we could walk free! Hallelujah! Whether engaged in a outward political war or inward spiritual battle, give us Your eyes, sweet Jesus, to see You inside every POW until war is no more!

“When a man’s ways please the LORD, he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.” Proverbs 16:7 ESV ******

* P.T.H. cites timeline formerly at this URL: mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm
The Minnesota Historical Society Web site, http://www.mnhs.org, is fantastic! Check it out! Images are from https://images.google.com/?gws_rd=ssl; again, an amazing resource!
** https://www.grandforksherald.com/news/3953177-how-wwii-german-pows-fared-grand-forks
*** http://www.mnopedia.org/place/german-prisoners-war-camp-moorhead-1944-1946
**** https://www.inforum.com/opinion/columns/2725100-McFeely-German-POWs-right-here-in-Moorhead citing Piehl, Mark. “POWs work at Moorhead Truck Farm”. Clay County Historical Society, 1991, pp.15-17.
***** https://biblehub.com/psalms/146-1.htm
****** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giovanni_Gentile
******* https://biblehub.com/proverbs/16-7.htm

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20th Century, German Americans, History, Intercession, Judgment & Counter-Judgment Cycle, Minnesota, omnipresent history, U.S. Constitution, World War I

Political Suppression in Minnesota 1917

th

Meintz was tarred and feathered for not supporting War Bond drives.

1917

“Anti-German hysteria runs rampant during the war. The Minnesota Commission of Public Safety is given sweeping powers to bully German Minnesotans, suppress the right of free speech, break strikes, and even remove elected officials from office.” *

Our Constitution is designed to protect us from both tyranny of the majority or tyranny of the minority.

“In time of actual war, great discretionary powers are constantly given to the Executive Magistrate. Constant apprehension of War, has the same tendency to render the head too large for the body. A standing military force, with an overgrown Executive will not long be safe companions to liberty. The means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home. Among the Romans it was a standing maxim to excite a war, whenever a revolt was apprehended. Throughout all Europe, the armies kept up under the pretext of defending, have enslaved the people.” – Speech, Constitutional Convention June 29th 1787 **

To offer some more specific historical context, read the excerpt from Matt Reicher’s article on the MNopedia site. 

“The U.S. entered World War I on April 6, 1917. Minnesota legislators worked quickly to pass war-related laws before the end of their spring session. As a result, the Sullivan bill saw very little debate. It passed both houses and was signed into law by Burnquist on April 16, 1917. The MCPS took control of many of the state’s regulatory, public safety, and military functions.

Throughout its tenure the MCPS provided useful services. It distributed food, controlled the prices of goods, and conserved fuel. However, it is best known for its use of secret surveillance, intimidation, and other extreme tactics in the name of protecting Minnesota’s citizens.

Ensuring clear-cut loyalty to America eventually overtook the MCPS’s other efforts. Commissioners regarded any lack of patriotism as rebellion. Political beliefs were irrelevant. Governor Burnquist maintained that there were only two parties during the war: “loyal” and “disloyal”. He and the MCPS praised the former and tried to eliminate the latter.” ***

As defined by the American Psychological Association, ambiguity is “a perceptual object that may have more than one interpretation. **** One problem with loyalty litmus tests is that they often force emotional ambiguity upon society. Citizens face the dilemma of feigning outward compliance to the law, but inwardly rejecting its divisiveness and lack of subtlety. 

It is significant that this bifurcating mania existed towards our State’s most populous ethnicity during the run up to World War I. 

“The largest flow of German immigration to America occurred between 1820 and World War I, during which time nearly six million Germans immigrated to the United States. From 1840 to 1880, they were the largest group of immigrants.” ***** Additionally, “German Americans compose a plurality in New York, Pennsylvania, and the Midwestern states.” ****** 

Lord, hear our prayer! In the era of WWI, we allowed a consensus opinion to beat down the rights of German Americans solely on the basis of their race. In offending them, the largest and most populous group of Minnesotans, we have offended You. We have treated citizens as suspects: in social circles, in their work life, in their property, and in their faith. Have mercy!

Will You restore to German Americans the damages done to them in this chapter of history? Will You forgive our fears that overcame wise law during the Great War? Will You forgive us from literally erasing their names from the persons, places, and things of Minnesota? Will You forgive the MCPS and Minnesotans from “piling on” of shame over imagined offenses, instead of dealing solely with real guilt of actually breaking the law through collaborating with an enemy during wartime?

On the other hand, will You forgive the judgments of German Americans towards the MCPS and the State? Will You free them from the weight of maintaining the offense of their humilations? Will You remove this historic offense up, out, and onto the Cross of Christ? Only You can bear our sins, and change us into overcomers!

In our present and future, will You help us slow down our destructive reactionary responses to war and rumors of war through the gateway of our fears? 

Your Word says, “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear, because fear is by suspicion, but he who fears is not grown up in love.” 1John 4:18 Aramaic Bible in Plain English ******** Will You help us to trust our neighbors, and honor the rights, privileges, and duties of their citizenship as much as our own? 

Will You protect us from societal damages through the means of group and identity politics? We cherish our race, or our subculture, but You have called us beyond our ethnicities as individuals! Our worth to You is not based one our “ism”, “hyphen”, our other marker; we are worthy because You have called us worthy!

Further, will You heal Your Church to be cognizant that our first citizenship is in Heaven? Will You free us from the Enemy’s triggers, and the bait of ethnic-based offense? We relinquish our rights to maintain an ethnic offense and declare the Jubilee of Your grace towards all people of Minnesota now and always. Maranatha!

* http://www.mnhs.org/about/dipity_timeline.htm

** https://thefederalistpapers.org/founders/james-madison-quotes

*** ibid http://www.mnopedia.org/group/minnesota-commission-public-safety

**** http://www.apa.org/research/action/glossary.aspx

***** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Americans#World_War_I_anti-German_sentiment 

****** https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/German_Americans

******* Find primary sources of the Minnesota commission of Public Safety. http://invention.si.edu/minnesota-commission-public-safety-main-files-1917-1919

********* http://biblehub.com/1_john/4-18.htm

 

 

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