The Kandiyohi Historical Society will host Colleen Gengler who will present "World War II Prisoner of War Camps in Minnesota" at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, June 27 in the KCHS, 610 N.E. Highway 71, Willmar, in the community room.

Minnesota housed 19 branch camps, overseen by the base camp in Algona, Iowa. In 1944 and 1945, the Minnesota camps housed mostly German prisoners of war, but also a few Italians. The primary reason for POWs in Minnesota was the labor shortage; POWs worked in canneries, logging and other industries as well as providing much needed labor on farms.

Colleen Gengler, a volunteer with her local Historical Society in Murray County at Slayton, will present what camp life was like in Minnesota camps, including Owatonna, Olivia and Howard Lake. Her interest in the topic comes from her parents using POW-labor on their farm south of Owatonna.

In presentations of her family's memoir "Under Minnesota Skies," the story of her father's experience with POWs always generated questions and comments as many people are not familiar with this part of Minnesota history. She will also share stories from a few other camps and give background on WWII POWs nationally.

Although Kandiyohi County didn't house a camp, there was still a labor shortage there and throughout Minnesota. Local Farm Help Coordinating Committees helped ease the shortage. Colleen will explain how these worked.

Colleen had a 38-year career with University of Minnesota Extension working in several counties in southwest Minnesota as well as regionally and statewide. She now enjoys delving into her family's history. She and her husband Don live on a farm near Iona, Minnesota.

For more information visit or call 320-235-1881

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