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Idaho Falls in Bonneville County, Idaho — The American West (Mountains)
 

Prisoners of War in Idaho Falls

 
 
Prisoners of War in Idaho Falls Marker image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, June 20, 2013
1. Prisoners of War in Idaho Falls Marker
Inscription. After German Field Marshall Erwin Rommelís North African Army surrendered on May 13, 1943, the allies had approximately 275,000 prisoners-of-war in their possession. During 1945, 15,000 of the prisoners lived and worked in Idaho. Rupert, Idaho served as the base camp with over twenty branch agricultural camps established throughout the state. The first prisoners were Italians who came by train to Rupert in May 1944. Four months later, 500 German prisoners arrived.

A camp of 250 prisoners was placed on the property known as the Westbank Hotel. Five hundred additional prisoners were housed at Tautphaus Park in a large log exhibit building.

The prisoners provided support to the local economy by preventing crop loss, increasing production and reducing the labor shortage. The prisoners were bused to the field in the morning and returned to camps when the dayís work was done. The prisoners-of-war in the Idaho Falls camps cut and harvested potatoes, thinned and harvested sugar beets, and hauled dirt to fill holes and cover lava along the west side of the present greenbelt.

The farmers contracted for laborers through the U.S. Army, paying the prevailing wages in the locality for similar work. The prisoners-of-war were paid 80 cents a day, with the balance going directly into the U.S. Treasury.

The
Prisoners of War in Idaho Falls Marker (<i>wide view showing adjacent riverwalk</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, June 20, 2013
2. Prisoners of War in Idaho Falls Marker (wide view showing adjacent riverwalk)
prisoners spent up to two years in these camps. In late fall of 1946, the prisoners were moved back to the main camp at Rupert, transported by train to New York and returned to their native countries. Some of the prisoners found American sponsors, thus allowing them to return to Idaho Falls and to become U.S. citizens.
 
Location. 43° 29.772′ N, 112° 2.657′ W. Marker is in Idaho Falls, Idaho, in Bonneville County. Marker is on Idaho Falls Greenbelt Trail 0.2 miles north of West Broadway Street, on the right when traveling north. Touch for map. Marker is located on the Idaho Falls Greenbelt Trail, between River Parkway and the Snake River. Marker is in this post office area: Idaho Falls ID 83402, United States of America.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within walking distance of this marker. Snake River Bridge (within shouting distance of this marker); Upper Snake River Valley Irrigation (approx. 0.2 miles away); The Idaho Falls LDS Hospital and School of Nursing (approx. 0.2 miles away); Eagle Rock Meeting House (approx. 0.2 miles away); Idaho Falls Idaho Temple (approx. 0.2 miles away); Native American Encampments (approx. ľ mile away); Eagle Rock Ferry (approx. 0.3 miles away); Taylor's Bridge (approx. 0.3 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Idaho Falls.
 
Also see . . .
Snake River (<i>view from riverwalk near marker</i>) image. Click for full size.
By Cosmos Mariner, June 20, 2013
3. Snake River (view from riverwalk near marker)

1. Idaho History: Idahoís POW camps operated from 1943-1945.
German and Italian prisoners of war began arriving in the United States in 1942 after beleaguered Britain could no longer take care of them in the manner required by the Geneva Convention. Camps were built to house them in Idaho and other Western states. Camp Rupert, near Paul, Idaho, was the base camp for the southern part of the state, with about 15,000 POWs divided among branch camps at Aberdeen, Blackfoot, Emmett, Filer, Franklin, Gooding, Idaho Falls, Marsing, Nampa, Payette, Pocatello, Preston, Rigby, Shelley, Sugar City, Thomas, Upper Deer Flat, near Nampa and Wilder. (Submitted on November 23, 2017, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

2. History of Idaho's Largest WWII POW Camp Preserved Near Paul.
The camp was one of 21 camps located in Idaho and operated as the base camp for the Idaho camps, as well as camps in Montana and Oregon. Built by 1,500 workers in 1943 on 300 acres of sage brush the 172 buildings included a field office, hospital, barracks, mess-halls, chapel, commissaries, recreational facilities and warehouses. "There was a small city out here," said Anne Schenk, historical society member who helped compile the history of the camp. "There were no young men here during the war and they needed the prisoners for harvesting and planting crops. It was a huge boon to the area." (Submitted on November 23, 2017, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 

3. Camp Rupert.
POWs would set up an army-style branch camp to plant and harvest a crop, or to simply harvest the crop. They would be transported from camp to the field in a truck. Approximately 15 prisoners were in a truck with one guard. The POWs, requested by a farmer, would be transported by the farmer to his field. The farmer and the War Labor Board assigned a quota to the POWs. German-language information was provided to instruct the prisoners how to accomplish the task. These ranged from leaflets to a German-language film produced by the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company. Farmers were expected to guard the POWs. This led to complaints, such as from Utah-Idaho Sugar Company, complaining that the farmer couldn't get his other work done. It (Submitted on November 23, 2017, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.) 
 
Categories. AgricultureIndustry & CommerceWar, World II
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on November 26, 2017. This page originally submitted on November 23, 2017, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 65 times since then. Photos:   1, 2, 3. submitted on November 23, 2017, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Bill Pfingsten was the editor who published this page.
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