Camp Rupert

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Camp Rupert was a World War II prisoner of war camp near Paul, Idaho.[1] It was built for $1.5 million, which was everything needed for a city of 3,000: barracks, water, sewer, and a hospital.[1] The first POWs were Italian and were received in May 1944.[1] In September 1944, 500 German POWs arrived.[1]

POWs would set up an army-style branch camp to plant and harvest a crop, or to simply harvest the crop.[1] They would be transported from camp to the field in a truck.[1] Approximately 15 prisoners were in a truck with one guard.[1] The POWs, requested by a farmer, would be transported by the farmer to his field.[1] The farmer and the War Labor Board assigned a quota to the POWs.[1]

German-language information was provided to instruct the prisoners how to accomplish the task.[1] These ranged from leaflets to a German-language film produced by the Utah-Idaho Sugar Company.[1]

Farmers were expected to guard the POWs.[1] This led to complaints, such as from Utah-Idaho Sugar Company, complaining that the farmer couldn't get his other work done.[1]

It was administered by Fort Douglas, Utah, and was a disciplinary camp German and Italian forces with disciplinary issues such as prisoners who had attempted sit-down strikes and recaptured escapees.[1] By December 1945, it contained hundreds of the Waffen SS.[1] An estimated 15,000 POWs were attached to Camp Rupert.[1]

After the end of World War II in Europe in May 1945, work assignments became heavier, and logistical challenges meant that food rations were meager.[1] As images and reports from the Nazi concentration camps made it to the public, camp staff were less tolerant towards their POWs.[1] Threats were made towards prisoners who failed to complete their assigned quotas, and non-labor activities were sharply limited.[1]

At some time, a branch camp in Wyoming went on strike due to poor transportation to fields and leaky barracks roofs.[1] And in the summer of 1945, 297 POWs went on strike for harsh work conditions.[1] Three prisoners hit an American guard, and prisoners reported that an American sergeant was striking and kicking prisoners.[1]

In the peak of October 1945, Camp Rupert was responsible for 15,047 prisoners.[1] In part due to labor shortages in the United States, many POWs did not return to Europe until after the fall 1946 harvest.[1]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x Jaehn, Tomas (2000-08). "Unlikely Harvesters: German Prisoners of War as Agricultural Workers in the Northwest". Montana: The Magazine of Western History (Montana Historical Society) 50 (3): 46–57. JSTOR 4520253. 

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