The POW’s Legacy

Florence Kain did not want those German POWs on their land. Germans had shot down her sister Mary’s husband, a British fighter pilot and she wasn’t feeling kindly towards them. Even if the POWs stationed near their home at Camp Algona were most likely not the ones personally responsible for her brother-in-law’s death. Florence’s husband, Dick, continued his campaign. He needed help getting the corn in. At eighty cents per man for a day’s work, having a crew helping him would be a huge blessing.

She final gave in. “Okay, but I’m not feeding them.”

“You have to feed them. If they’re here working, we have to give them a mid-day meal.”

“All right – but I’m not using my good dishes!”

Seventy-five years later, when I heard this story from Florence’s niece, you know I had to use it in The POW’s Legacy. Florence Kain isn’t around anymore to share her story with others. But her memory lives on with these true-life memories of life in northern Iowa during World War 2. Many true-life experiences are shared in this book, although re-told in a fictional manner.

The POW’s Legacy is a Christmas story. Yet it’s not just that. It’s about a special nativity scene created by German POWs held at Camp Algona, in Iowa. They created a nativity scene their first Christmas in Iowa in 1944, out of soil from the Iowa fields – formed and baked in ovens to harden and painted.

The following year, they wanted to build another better scene – larger and with more figures. They built sixty-five half-size figures. Besides the Holy family, they made shepherds and sheep and wisemen, and angels. When the was over, they left the creche to the town of Algona, where it has been displayed every year since, excepting last year due to Covid.

The book is more than a Christmas tale. It’s the story of friendships formed between people from two waring countries, some that lasted until their deaths many years later. Although told in a fictional manner, many of the people in the book and the experiences that happened are based on true life people and true-life situations.

This is my book baby born just this year – but the events that lined up for this to happen had its gestation over 75 years ago.

June 2023

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