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Thousands of individuals viewed The Captive Eye: German POW Art and Artifacts while it travled to the below venues. It is TRACES’ goal that additional thousands might gain from viewing many of the more than 1,500 items entrusted to us by the 55 German POWs our research teams met with during seven interview tours across Germany. Understanding the indelible humanity of “the enemy” is a powerful antidote to war.


2002-2005 German-POW Traveling Exhibit Schedule:




dates: Sunday, 6 October 2002 through Sunday, 5 January 2003

opening reception: 1-5 Sunday afternoon, 6 October 2002

general hours: 10-5PM Tuesdays—Fridays; 7-9PM Thursdays; 1-5PM Saturdays and Sundays

museum: Muscatine Art Center

location: 1314 Mulberry Avenue, Muscatine/Iowa 52761

contact person: Barbara Longtin                phone number/email address: 563.263.8282 art@muscanet.com

web site: www.muscatineartcenter.org


Charles City/Iowa


dates: Saturday, 1 February 2003 through Saturday, 15 March 2003

opening reception: 1-3 Saturday afternoon, 1 February 2003

general hours: 1-5PM Wednesdays—Saturdays

museum: Charles City Art Center

location: 301 North Jackson, Charles City/Iowa 50616

contact person: Tracy Sweet                phone number/email address: 641.228.6752 arts@rconnect.com

web site: www.masoncitynet.com/charlescity/


Mason City/Iowa


dates: Saturday, 22 March 2003 through Monday, 1 September 2003

opening reception: 1-5PM Saturday, 22 March; German Culture Fest

guided tours: 1-3PM Monday, 26 May; exhibit re-dedication tour 1-3PM Sunday, Father's Day, 15 June

general hours: 1-5PM daily except Easter

museum: Music Man Square

location: 308 Pennsylvania Avenue South, Mason City/Iowa 50401

contact person: Mandy Johnson                     phone number/email address: 641.424.2852 musicman@mach3ww.com

web site: www.themusicmansquare.org




dates: Saturday, 20 September 2003 through Friday, 31 October 2003

opening reception: 3:00PM Sunday, 7 September 2003

general hours: 7.30AM-midnight Mondays—Thursdays; 7.30AM-6PM Fridays; 9AM-6PM Saturdays; 1PM-midnight Sundays

library: Wartburg College’s Vogel Library

location: 100 Wartburg Boulevard, Waverly/Iowa 50677

contact person: Edie Waldstein                phone number/email address: 800.772.2085 edith.waldstein@wartburg.edu

web site: www.wartburg.edu




dates: Saturday, 8 November 2003 through Sunday, 4 January 2004

opening reception: 7.30-10PM Saturday, 8 November 2003

general hours: 9AM-5PM Mondays—Fridays; noon-5PM Saturdays and Sundays

museum: Sanford Museum and Planetarium

location: 117 East Willow Street, Cherokee/Iowa 51012

contact person: Linda Burkhart                phone number/email address:712.225.3922 sanford@cherokee.k12.ia.us

web site: www.mail.cherokee.k12.ia.us/~sanford/




dates: Sunday, 11 January 2004 through Sunday, 4 July 2004

opening reception: noon-1PM Sunday, 11 January 2004

general hours: 10AM-5PM Mondays—Saturdays (Tuesdays till 9PM); noon-5PM Sundays

museum: Clay County Historical Society

location: 202 First Avenue North, Moorhead/Minnesota 56561

contact person: Mark Peihl                       phone number/email address:218.299.5520 mark.peihl@ci.moorhead.mn.us

web site: www.info.co.clay.mn.us/history

contact person: Kathleen Backer         phone number/email address:507.354.8850 kbhfest@newulmtel.net

web site: www.heritagefest.net


Grand Rapids/Minnesota


dates: late summer through late winter 2004 (contact museum for specific dates and times)

opening reception: summer 2004

general hours: 9.30AM-5PM Mondays—Fridays; 10AM-4PM Saturdays and 10AM-3PM Sundays

museum: Itasca County Historical Society

location: Central School Building, 10 Fifth Street Northwest, Grand Rapids/Minnesota 55744

contact person: Lilah Crowe                phone number/email address: 218.326.6431 ichs@paulbunyan.net

web site: www.itascahistorical.org

Pembina/North Dakota


dates: Saturday, March 19 2005 through Friday, September 30 2005

opening reception: Saturday, March 19 2005, 11 am

general hours: Monday to Saturday 9-6, Sundays 1-6

museum: Pembina State Museum

location: Highway 59, Pembina, North Dakota 58271

contact person: Jeff Blanchard          phone number/email address: 701.825.6840 jblanchard@state.nd.us

web site: www.state.nd.us/hist/mus/pembmus.htm

Related Press Release, June 2003:


POW Exhibit Extended Due to Public Response

contact person: BUSeumTour@yahoo.com

telephone 641.423.8000

web site: www.TRACES.org


The response has been overwhelming—and unexpected.

Last March the non-profit, educational organization TRACES opened its exhibit A Captive Eye: German POW Art and Artifacts at the Music Man Square Museum in Mason City, Iowa. While TRACES hoped for at least modest turnout and passing interest, its showing of some 1,000 photos, letters, journals, paintings, wood carvings, camp-issued clothes and money, books, musical instruments, tools and much more from Camp Algona or its 35 branch camps across Iowa, Minnesota and the Dakotas has sparked rare audience response. Above all, the exhibit is reminding its viewers of Upper Midwesterners’ own WWII-homefront experiences.

Bill Berg of Minnesota—who has donated a wooden U.S. Army truck and jeep handcrafted by a POW working with his soldier father at Fort Snelling—recalls: “During WWII Mother and I lived with her parents in Minneapolis, just off Hiawatha Avenue; Dad and the POW would often stop by to visit. One day the POW gave me the two vehicles. That is all I know of him: there is no name or photo of him, but I remember that he was kind and loved children.”

Jim Fitzgerald, a native Mason Citian now leading a Dixie band in Las Vegas, shares: “As a nine year old walking home from school we would pass the poultry house in Mason City and see POWs working, loading trucks and the like. We thought they were monsters until we started waving at them and they waved back. I became friends with a POW named Hans and when I asked him how Germany could do all the terrible things it was doing, he said The same thing could happen here if Dillinger was President.’ I never forgot that. After some time we got permission to have him over to the house for dinner one Sunday. It was quite an experience for a young boy who was filled with all the propaganda of the times.”

Well-received by visitors from across the nation, the exhibit was scheduled to conclude on Memorial Day but by popular demand will run through Labor Day, before moving to Wartburg College’s Vogel Library in Waverly, Iowa and then to the Sanford Museum in Cherokee, Iowa. In early 2004 the collection will move to Moorhead, Grand Rapids and likely New Ulm, Minnesota: except for Cherokee, all of those communities hosted POW branch camps during the war—as did Fairmont, Minnesota.

            Retired lawyer and writer Byron Holcomb remembers: “It was D-Day, June 6, 1944, and everyone was in downtown Fairmont to find out how the boys were doing on the beaches of Normandy. The merchants had placed radios above entry doors to hear the continuing news coverage, and semi-circles of hundreds of people stood outside together at each store. I was nine at the time. In front of Paulsons Drug Store I looked at the man to my right along with his buddies—a German soldier, in uniform, listening as intently as the rest of us. I nudged him with my elbow and defiantly chided him with my finger thumping on my chest, I am Byron.’ He nodded quickly and responded without gesture, Jerry.’ A solitary tear effortlessly flowed down his cheek.

“A German soldier crying—what is this? Jerry was one of the remnants of Rommels fierce Afrika Korps brought in regiment strength as POWs to do the work of Fairmont while her sons were away. He wanted to know like everyone else that day what was happening. The war had come down to the two of us on this momentous day, and there I stood next to the enemy ready to defend Fairmont against them, even at my age!”

            The story of the 435,000 Axis POWs imprisoned in the United States at the end of WWII is a rich one—but fading fast. Michael Luick-Thrams’ project, however, is working feverishly to preserve the last “traces” of it before they disappear forever. He says: “We never dreamt that people here would be so fascinated by their own, mostly forgotten history.

Quite literally TRACES is bringing that legacy back to life, so that we might learn about the treatment of POWs and other related issues during this time of renewed global war. Thankfully, the six decades’ distance from that chapter of our collective past helps people more rationally look at aspects of war than if we were traveling the Midwest and dissecting our nation’s current experiences. This exhibit is a learning tool—and it works exceptionally well.”

            Because of the tremendous response TRACES has been given many new artifacts, which will be integrated into the exhibit before its official rededication this coming Father’s Day. In fact, numerous changes and improvements will be made—including the introduction of two related short videos, one being the recently aired Iowa Public Television segment about this story.

Luick-Thrams will give a personal tour of what he joking refers to as the “new, improved” exhibit from 1-3:30 Sunday afternoon, the 15th of June. Luick-Thrams is excited that summer tourist traffic will bring thousands of visitors to Mason City to see the exhibit: “TRACES research teams criss-crossed Germany seven times to interview 55 surviving former German POWs; this is their story and we have vividly documented the human side of their wartime experiences.”

            These unique war tales each have at least two sides—as Mary Siems Manau writes in her moving account of one Midwest family’s encounter with “the enemy”: "It was late summer on a farm south of Fairmont, Minnesota. A group of POWs had some to help my father harvest his grain. Father said these men were to be treated and fed just like any other thrashing crew. That meant that they ate inside, around the old oak table laden with a lot of home-cooked food. My mother recalls that some of the POWs wouldn't come into the house to eat, but most of the men did and enjoyed the foodand the polka and waltz music played on the record player. Some of them said it was the first 'real' music they had heard in over a year.

            “One young man, in his early 20’s, spoke pretty good English. He said that he was from Austria and that this wasn’t ‘his’ fight—that the German army came through the towns and villages and ‘took’ anyone who could fight. He said he left his young wife and an infant son, and was so worried about them and wondered if he would find them after the war.

          “I was about six months old at that time. This young man asked if he could just reach out and touch me. Without saying a word, Mother picked me and handed me to him. She said he staid there rocking and patting me, with tears streaming down his face. And, she recalled what was so remarkable about it was that I was not crying when this stranger picked me up, but contentedly smiling up at him. I was too little to remember WWII, but it had a profound effect on me. To me it was about people and how it effected the families of soldiers on both sides. I never knew his name, but I will always remember the young man who held me in that summer of '44 and cried for his lost family.”

            For more information about this exhibit, or the history and project behind it, visit www.TRACES.org.


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