Sunday, December 18, 2011

Have a Wonderful Christmas!

So it seems that the Christmas Season is upon us. The stores are packed, and already people are returning their early purchases because they found the same item at a lower price somewhere else. Churches are getting flowered up, the manger scenes are in place, and we've been singing O Come O Come Emanuel for four weeks now. Gets the juices flowing, doesn't it!

So, the LeRoys have started posting Christmasy pictures on their photo blog, One Shot Leads to Another. And did you see our header photo today? This is one that we posted yesterday on the other blog. It is a manger scene that was built by German Prisoners of War during World War II. It is on permanent display at the POW museum in Algona, Iowa.

We spent quite a bit of time in Iowa in the summer of 2006. Those days we did our writing on My Trip Journal. This is an excerpt from that time, telling about this museum:

In Algona, Iowa, we visited a museum dedicated to the former WWII Prisoner of War Camp nearby. The camp was "home" to a total of 10,000 German POWs during the period of its existence. Under the terms of the Geneva Convention, the POWs were assigned to labor in the area, working on farms, in brick and tile factories, and clearing ditches. They earned ten cents an hour which they could spend in the camp canteen. In a spectacular operation involving seven POW camps, 2400 prisoners saved an estimated 65% of a record-breaking pea crop. A contemporary report stated that, without the prisoner's efforts, 2,594,150 cases of canned peas would not have been made. I don't know your opinion about canned peas, but a similar loss today would not have affected my taste buds at all.

Some of the German prisoners were very talented. One man, Edward Kaib, started a Christmas manger scene. When the commanding officer learned of it, he encouraged Kaib and a few others to continue. Over a year they produced a full Nativity Scene, half life size in scale, and set it up for public display. When the camp was to be disbanded after the war, the local citizens asked that the Nativity Scene stay in Algona. There it is today, displayed for public viewing every December, more than 60 years after its completion. The scene is permanently housed in a small building at the Kossuth County Fairgrounds. We were given a private tour, and now can share that marvel with you.

That's what we wrote then. Some of our Followers on One Shot Leads to Another have asked how these figures were made, or whether they were hand-carved. They were constructed of plastered concrete over wooden and wire frames (we just checked that on Google!).

Here are a few more pictures we took of the manger setup. More can be found at our web album 2006 Algona POW Nativity Scene.

From us to you, have a happy, holy, blessed Christmas. 


  1. That is simply gorgeous, thanks so much for sharing the pictures and information.

  2. And the same wish to you, Jerry and Suzy.

  3. I love your header picture. The nativity scene is breathtaking. Those POWs are very talented! This is what this season is all about! Thanks for sharing.

  4. Thank you Jerry and Suzy for this especially inspiring post. Merry Christmas to you and yours!


  5. Great post -- thanks for sharing the pics and info on the nativity scene. MERRY CHRISTMAS!!

  6. Merry Christmas and an Happy New Year to all of you.
    By an Italian reader, who sometimes reads this blog, by which I can see always beautiful places, that probably I will never see with my own eyes.
    Merry Christmas and an happy new year.

  7. Thanks so much for the very meaningful post...a piece of history at Christmas...A blessed and wonderful Christmas to you and yours..

  8. Thanks for sharing with us. Merry Christmas to you two, as well. We hope to see more of you during the next couple of weeks.

  9. You guys have a Merry Christmas and thanks for sharing all the posts and pictures. Glad you are enjoying the Holidays. Stay warm and dry!!

  10. Here is our wish that you have a very special Christmas!

  11. How detailed! Thanks for sharing, Merry Christmas to you and yours:)

  12. That is a gorgeous and inspiring nativity set. Thanks for telling us the story behind it. Have a great Christmas, Jerry and Suzy!


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