Tiskilwa Historical Society Presents “WW II German POW Camps in Illinois” on November 14

Tiskilwa Historical Society’s annual Salute to Veterans will host Ron Dickerson of Washington to share information about a little-discussed fact of World War II: the internment of German prisoners of war at camps in Illinois as well as throughout the United States. The program begins at 7:00 p.m. on Monday, November 14, in the community room of Tiskilwa’s Museum on Main.


Military records reveal that, beginning in 1942, the U.S. accepted about 175,000 POWs at the request of the British government. In the final months of the war, POWs entered the U.S. at a rate of 60,000 per month. In total, more than 425,000 POWs were held in the United States, including Germans, Italians, and Japanese.

A mid-1940s map shows locations that WW II prisoners of war were held throughout the U.S. in all but four states. On Monday evening, November 14, Ron Dickerson will present a program at Tiskilwa Historical Society about the camps in Illinois.


Ron's interest in this subject stems from the WW II military service of his step-father, Russell Poff, a longtime Tiskilwa resident. From 1943-45, Russ served in the 439th Military Police Escort Company, accompanying enemy combatant POWs to America and then onward to various camps in the U.S.


In his presentation, Ron will share photos and anecdotes about the nine Illinois camps where German POWs were housed. During their time in Illinois, POWs were engaged in farm labor, canning, and public works construction projects similar to WPA programs.


Ron graduated from Tiskilwa High School in 1970. Having retired recently from a career as Economic Development Manager for MTCO Corporation, Ron now has more time to pursue his hobbies of traveling, walking, and photography. Russ Poff and Ron's mother, Minnie, lived for several decades in the Tiskilwa area.


In a special moment at the beginning of the evening, all veterans in attendance will be asked to stand for recognition and to receive a Tiskilwa keychain, presented by the Tiskilwa High School Alumni Association.


As always, admission to the historical society’s program is free and open to the public, but a free-will offering will be gratefully accepted. Social time will follow the program, with a chance to enjoy treats and view museum displays. A chairlift to the community room is available for anyone who may have difficulty with the steps.

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