Filming in Iowa for a movie about a World War II camp near Algona for German prisoners has concluded and the film is scheduled for release next year.
There were shooting locations at several locations in Kossuth County for the film “Silent Night in Algona” during the first three weeks of November. Actor Bejo Dohmen is a native of Cologne, Germany who’s had roles in German movies and TV shows. He says getting a chance to help tell a true story is unique.
“In Germany, we don’t actually have so many productions where you have a chance to play historic stuff or something that’s completely different from you,” he says, “because most of the stuff there is just playing in our times right now or you play a cop or you play some comedy.”
Dohmen plays the character Klaus, one of the six German POWs at Camp Algona who created a nativity scene featuring figures ranging from a foot to more than four-and-a-half feet tall. Dohmen says he hadn’t realized there were POW camps in the United States.
“I love the story and I think it’s a very important story to tell,” Dohmen says. “…German soldiers back in the days weren’t all Nazis…Young guys who were forced into war and they’re just normal people like everyone else.”
Mark Holmes grew up in Alabama, but speaks fluent German, which helped him land the role of another POW named Dedrick. Holmes says the three weeks of filming here was intense.
“I think everybody wants to have this story made and to let everybody hear and see something that people are not really aware of,” Holmes says. “There’s this positive story in the midst of all the darkness.”
Till Wolter is a German-born actor who plays the role of a POW named Altman. He says it was incredibly easy to work in Kossuth County, despite the cold.
“I live in California and it’s definitely cold here, that’s for sure,” he says, with a laugh, “but what I enjoy is the people here have been so nice. Us going to the gym, on the way back, people have been stopping and saying: ‘Hey, can I get you a ride back to the hotel?’ People here have been really warm here and welcoming and that was really nice.”
Carter Glade was born in New Hampshire, but spent a good deal of his childhood in Germany. Glade says he only recently learned of the project and quickly sought the role of one of the POWs.
“It came across my manager’s and my desk maybe a month ago,” he says, “and I read the screenplay, and as soon as I read it one time through I knew this was something I wanted to be a part of and something I wanted to bring to life.”
Bodhi Rader, another actor portraying a German POW, grew up in a small farming village in Germany before his family moved to Florida. Rader says the movie will feature some emotional scenes and powerful imagery of the Iowa countryside.
“This camp was right in the middle of this. They came in on trains and marched to the camp,” he says. “…I imagine the place is still pretty similar to how it was then.”
And there was snow at one point during filming. “Silent Night in Algona” depicts events from September through December of 1944. The movie’s scheduled for release in November of next year.
(By Brian Wilson, KLGA, Algona)