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Over three million prisoners of war were captured by Allied forces during World War II. Of these, 370,000 Germans and 50,000 Italians were transferred from the battlefront to the United States at the request of our European allies, who were holding all the prisoners they could. Prisoner-of-war troops were typically referred to as P.W. or POWs.

Prisoners were brought to the U.S. to be safely confined and to supplement a depleted civilian work force. The POWs lived at 126 large camps, each housing several thousand men, some built in conjunction with military installations.

Fort Robinson POWs playing soccer
POW soccer game at Fort Robinson, 1944.
Courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society, RG2725-24

In Nebraska, approximately 12,000 prisoners of war were held in camps across the state. Scottsbluff, Fort Robinson, and the village Atlanta (outside Holdrege) were the main base camps. There were many smaller satellite camps at Alma, Bayard, Bertrand, Bridgeport, Elwood, Fort Crook, Franklin, Grand Island, Hastings, Hebron, Indianola, Kearney, Lexington, Lyman, Mitchell, Morrill, Ogallala, Palisade, Sidney, and Weeping Water. Altogether there were 23 large and small camps scattered across the state.

For More Information within Nebraska Studies:
The War: Nebraska Stories — The Horrors of War: Concentration Camps
The War: Nebraska Stories — The Horrors of War: Revenge, Justice, Forgiveness

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