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*** 1/2 stars I grew up on a farm near Algona and remember going to there one Christmas to see the almost life-size creche made by German POW's during their incarceration. I stumbled across this title while looking for something else and thought this was a point of view of WWII that I had never explored. The book provides information about camps scattered throughout Iowa and Minnesota. There are many B&W photos of the men in the camp, working for local farmers, and at home in Germany. The letters in the book are called " lebenzeichen " or signs of life, as often they were the first proof provided to families in Germany that their sons / brothers / husbands were indeed alive and well. There are a couple of letters included from commanding officers to families stating that a soldier had been taken prisoner, but in the confusion of battle and its aftermath, the true status of the man was often unknown. The out-going letters are a little boring, largely because they had to pass thru censors in the U.S. and possibly also in Germany. The second part of the book provides letters involving the same POW's which were written after the war. They are much more revealing about the devastation and hardship in Germany, feelings about their good treatment in the camps and their opinions about the Nazis. One POW was about to be murdered in the camp by Nazi hard-liners, but escaped. Needless to say, the Nazi party members who still believed in a triumphant Hitler, did not participate in the book, with one or two exceptions. A unique perspective for those of us who are WWII "nuts".
posted Mar 20, 2013 at 5:14AM
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