Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Sunday I tried to go to the Bus-uem exhibit outside the Apple Valley library. Eryn foiled my attempt to check it out when she arrived at a combination of extremely tired and obsessed with the driver's seat on the bus. Fortunately, I managed to cut out of work early enough yesterday to catch it at the Eagan library. Eryn was there too, but she didn't show up with Pooteewheet until quite a while after I'd already been there, so there weren't any issues about driving the bus and beeping its horn.

There's a good write up on the Bus-eum and the Midwest POW exhibit in Sunday's Pioneer Press (I'd link, but it's got registration - "Rolling museum tells POW stories"), the Dakota County section, but you can also read about it at the Traces.org website. It was fascinating to tour and there were first hand accounts of life as a POW in Germany, letters home, and art (not to mention some WWII vets who had come to see it who were discussing their experiences with each other and the director of the Bus-eum). I learned some things I didn't know, such as:
  • many POWs after they came home would frequently get up in the middle of the night and check the fridge, just to make sure there was food
  • POWs who were freed from camps in North Africa had to cross the desert to leave Africa in many cases, and were forced to trade everything they had on them, including their clothes, for food and water, to the extent that many of them were crossing the desert in their underwear and socks.
  • There were 400,000 prisoners of war held in the U.S. and there were POW camps for Germans in Minnesota (and for all three axis nations in Iowa) - that link has a great article at Traces.org about camp Algona, in Iowa, and its 34 branch camps, including camps in Princeton and New Ulm, Minnesota (and a lot of good pictures and even first hand accounts of interactions with German POWs). It certainly makes sense that if you want to keep prisoners of war as far away from escape as possible, in the middle of Minnesota/Iowa is the right location.

If it comes again and you're at all interested in local/Midwest history or the history of WWII, I recommend a visit.

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