The nativity scene created by World War Two prisoners being held in Algona opened for public display Sunday. Marvin Chickering is chair of the United Methodist Men’s Club committee that overseas the nativity scene created by German prisoners and first displayed in 1945.
Chickering says there’s still some mystery surrounding the men who built the 60 figures in the display. He says all along it’s been known that Edward Kaib and five of his friends built the display, and now they know a man named Horst Windlandt was another of the soldiers. Chickering says they have been unable to put names to the other prisoners who help build the display.
Chickering says once they discovered Windlandt had been one of the men, they asked him, but he didn’t remember. Kaib could not recall the names of the other men in an interview he did in 1985. Kaib died in May of 1988 in Germany. Chickering says they’ve added things to the display over the years, including a room with stories and other memorabilia about the nativity scene.
Last year they created a listening station with a 1985 interview with Edward Kaib to create more interest in the nativity scene. Chickering says people from all 50 states and several foreign countries have visited the Christmas scene made from concrete, wire and plaster. He says several things draw the visitors.
Chickering says the uniqueness of the nativity scene and the story behind it, as we were in a war with the men and they wanted to leave something behind because they were treated so well. Chickering says the nativity scene still is a draw.
He says "it is like no other in the world, and word of mouth brings people here." Chickering says the Camp Algona POW Museum also brings people in. The nativity scene is open weekdays and Saturdays from two p.m. to nine p.m., and Sundays from noon until nine p.m. on the Kossuth County Fairgrounds off Highway 169.