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Author of new book on POW camps in Iowa speaks with crowd in Northwood

Linda McCann shares research and stories to those gathered at Northwood Public Library Thursday morning

Posted: Nov 29, 2018 10:13 PM
Updated: Nov 29, 2018 10:49 PM

NORTHWOOD, Iowa - It's a part of Iowa's history you may not be familiar with. Now, a Shell Rock author is set to release a book about the state's prisoner of war camps.

Linda McCann grew up near Waverly, the site of a POW camp during World War II. It was one of 17 branch camps scattered across the state, along with two main camps in Algona and Clarinda.

She soon took an interest in the history of the camps, and spoke with people who worked with the prisoners, had them work on their farms, or just got to know them, and is releasing a book titled "Prisoners of War in Iowa."

On Thursday morning, she took the time to talk with a crowd at the Northwood Public Library, and says what she discovered while doing research is quite interesting.

"I didn't know about the Clarinda camp. I knew about the Algona camp, and I knew about some of the branch camps, but I didn't realize we had two main camps here. And I didn't realize we had Japanese in Iowa at Clarinda, and I didn't realize they were in every state except three [North Dakota, Nevada and Vermont]."

Altogether, there were about 25,000 German, Italian and Japanese prisoners of war in Iowa during World War II. But despite information in newspapers about them, McCann says she discovered many people didn't know that the camps even existed in the state.

"I think when World War II ended, people didn't talk about it. They didn't think it was important, it wasn't something to tell their kids, that sorta thing, and it just got passed by."

Since McCann wrote the book, one of her interviewees for the story has died, and adds that it's important to hear their stories as they could be lost forever.

McCann is already researching for her next projects, including Iowa's version of Rosie the Riveter.

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