Nazi P.O.W.s at camp in Riding Mountain National Park(Photo courtesy of Parks Canada)
A recent story we carried about the research of a World War II German Prisoner of War camp at Riding Mountain National Park prompted a number of phone calls from our listeners.
One of those callers was Cliff Neumann, who grew up on a farm east of Emerson. He remembers being a boy and his father driving out to a P.O.W. camp in St. Jean and picking up a crew of prisoners to come work in the family's sugar beet fields for the day. Neumann says he also remembers his mother cooking large noon meals for the workers as they only came with plain sandwiches to eat.
Another memory that sticks out for him is that the workers had special marks identifying them. He says, "They had a big red circle sewn on the back of their shirts and I think they had something red on their trousers too, a red stripe down the side I believe. They were free to sort of come and go wherever they wanted to anyway because there was bush all around the fields and if they wanted to step away (they could). They did come with guards though and there was usually two gaurds, I think, with .303 rifles."
Neumann adds as a young boy he never really thought of the war being far away and then suddenly in his backyard. He notes he and his family often listened to Hitler's speeches on short wave radio, so they were very aware even as kids, of the war that was going on.
He notes one of the workers corresponded with his sister for years after he was sent back to Germany.