2:00 p.m. Sunday, October 8, 2017

Image of invitation card

Betty Strong Encounter Center will present “Working with the Enemy: German, Italian, and Japanese Prisoners of War in Iowa During World War II” with Dr. Chad W. Timm at 2 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 8. Admission will be free; a reception will follow.

Timm will focus on the creation of WWII prisoner-of-war (POW) camps in Algona and Clarinda, Iowa, two of the more than 30 POW camps and branch camps in the state.

 “As part of a relatively quiet and underpublicized government program, thousands of enemy soldiers invaded Iowa in 1943,” says Timm, Associate Professor of Education at Simpson College, Indianola, Iowa.

Timm will discuss life in a POW camp; community relations; the POW labor program; branch camps; and the arrival of Japanese prisoners at Camp Clarinda in early 1945. Camp Clarinda was one of only two camps in the country to house Japanese soldiers.

 “POW internment in Iowa is a fascinating story of Iowans being confronted by the enemy: an enemy they needed to help them meet their wartime goals; an enemy who challenged them to find the humanity in the eyes of the enemy,” says Timm who earned a Master’s in Agricultural History and Rural Studies and a Ph.D. in Education from Iowa State University.

Timm is a native Iowan who grew up hearing stories from his grandmother, Alice A. McNamara, about her work at Earl May Nursery in Shenandoah, Iowa, during WWII. Alice told her grandson about the Japanese men who worked at Earl May in 1945. The stories sparked Timm’s interest in learning more.

He discovered that Japanese soldiers had been housed at a nearby POW camp in Clarinda where the soldiers were hired out to alleviate local labor shortages.

 “Due to a severe shortage of agricultural laborers, coupled with increased War Food Administration quotas for farm goods, Iowa’s farmers needed help doing their part to assist the United States in winning the war,” says Timm.