From the Archives
Jean Balgeman Shey was only 12 when Camp Algona was built nearby. Her first memory of the camp was of the 'eerie glow' in the night of the camp's many lights. No one in the country had electricity at the time, so the camp's search lights could be seen skating through the sky for miles.
Jean's father used PW labor on the family farm, and five prisoners worked there during the summer. They arrived for the morning's work, ate lunch with the family, and were returned to the Camp by late afternoon each day, overseen by only one guard.
The Balgeman Family's ties to the PWs did not end with the end of the war. Jean's father sent many care packages to Wilhelm Schittges, one of the PWs who worked on the farm. These gifts helped the Schittges family survive the hard times which followed the war in Germany.