This article appeared in
the StarTribune newspaper in Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota
Museum shows remembrances of WWII, people on both sides
The exhibits on display in downtown St. Paul's Landmark Center focus on the
Midwestern and German encounters.
Strands of barbed wire hang over the entrance to a new World War II museum
in St. Paul's Landmark Center. Pass beneath and you step back more than 60
years in time to see encounters between people from the Midwest and Germany
during the war.
small museum, the TRACES Center for History and Culture, includes exhibits
on several phases of the war, including prison camps on both sides of the
are also sections on internment camps and small-town America's reaction to
the war. In another area, a 12-foot-high Nazi banner helps illustrate the
mood in Berlin.
Michael Luick-Thrams, the museum director, grew up in Iowa but spent many
years in Germany researching aspects of the war.
interest was piqued years ago when he learned of an old Quaker boarding
school in Iowa that had been transformed into a refugee camp for Europeans
fleeing the Nazis. He eventually wrote a book about the Scattergood Hostel,
which housed 185 refugees near West Branch, Iowa, between 1939 and 1943.
he interviewed 50 Germans who had been prisoners of war in American camps,
hoping to learn how their country was led into war and disaster.
he interviewed 50 Americans who'd been prisoners of war in Germany.
on Main Street America and on the Berlin street scene add context to the
museum, Luick-Thrams said.
final section of the museum features stark photographs of concentration camp
victims taken by soldiers from Minnesota.
the war, thousands of German nationals were detained in camps around the
United States, including at Fort McCoy near Sparta, Wis., and they were
often held without trials. Some were briefly held in the Ramsey County jail,
FBI agents often interrogated Germans in St. Paul's Federal Building (now
Landmark Center), it's appropriate that six decades later the museum has
found a home in the same building, he said.
he sees many parallels between World War II and the current war in Iraq,
including fear and distrust.
must see what we can learn from the experiences of our grandparents and
others who lived through World War II," he said. "This is a case
study of what happens in war, and we can find clues on how to be better
Joe Kimball • 651-298-1553 • joek@StarTribune.com