An 11 o’clock ceremony today marks the official opening of a museum that tells the story of a World War Two-era P-O-W camp just outside of Algona. The 300-acre camp for prisoners of war from Germany and Italy housed nearly 10-thousand captured soldiers from 1944 to ’46. Three years ago, the Camp Algona P-O-W project committee formed, and today a building just off Algona’s Main Street houses photos, letters, diaries, paintings and other items from that era. Committee member and school teacher Brian Connick. As you enter the building, the first wall is covered with pictures of the autos used at the camp — including the fire engines, lumber trucks, staff cars and even a limo. Connick says they’ve recorded the stories of three dozen former prisoners at the camp who talked about working on local farms. Connick says it was outdoor, physical labor that was somewhat enjoyable for the prisoners. While he says it wasn’t pleasant for the prisoners to be under someone else’s control, many farmers in the area were of German heritage and were able to talk with the prisoners in their native language. In addition to the farm work that included detassling corn and helping with the harvest, some prisoners were dispatched to a box and barrel factory. Others worked in canneries or dairies. Connick says they’ve also talked with folks who were local residents 60 years ago about their impressions of the camp. “Certainly, it had an impact on the community because you can’t ignore 3,000 people living outside your town and there was a constant military presence in Algona so it really was never far from mind, but I have heard very few people talk about being fearful,” Connick says. “Most of what we hear is that people were impressed with the work that the (German and Italian) soldiers did.” The P-O-Ws were able to earn vouchers or coupons for doing that work. Connick says the P-O-Ws could earn up to 10 cents an hour — and a maximum of 80 cents per day. They took their earnings in coupons that could be exchanged for goods at the camp canteen. The guitar a P-O-W purchased from the canteen is part of the exhibit. Many prisoners painted or created wood sculptures and gave their artwork to the families for whom they worked. Prisoners at the camp worked for a year to carve a life-sized nativity scene which has been on display outdoors each December in Algona — it is not part of the museum. Connick, some of his students and other members of the committee have located more than 60 of the former P-O-Ws who are still living as well as many of the families of those who’ve died. The Camp Algona museum has been open to visitors since this summer, but project members set November 11th — Veteran’s Day — as the museum’s official opening date. You can find more information about the camp and the museum on-line at