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Historical Society Learns about World War I and II Pows

Guest Writer

The Emery County Historical Society met for their March meeting and the guest speaker for the evening was Dr. Allan Kent Powell. His topic was World War 1 and World War 11 German Prisoners of war.

The meeting began with Dixie Swasey introducing Christine Jensen who was there to sing songs from WW I and WW II.

Jensen sang "My Bonnie", "White Cliffs of Dover", "I'll Be Seeing You" and "Always".

Joyce Staley introduced Dr. Powell, who has a doctorate in history, and informed the group that he came originally from Huntington, graduating from Emery County High School in 1964. He now works for the Utah State Historical Society.

Allen Kent Powell was born in Price and grew up in nearby Huntington. He attended public schools in Emery County and received his higher education at the College of Eastern Utah and University of Utah, where he earned his bachelors, masters and Ph.D. degrees in history.

He has been employed at the Utah State Historical Society, for more than 30 years, where he is currently the public history coordinator and editor of the Utah Historical Quarterly.

He is also an Associate Instructor of History at Westminster College and has participated with the Utah Humanities Council Speakers Bureau and other programs.

Much of his career has been involved in researching and writing history. His books include: "The Next Time We Strike: Labor in Utah's Coal Fields 1900-1933" which recounts the story of Utah's coal miners and their struggle for unionization; "Splinters of a Nation: German Prisoners of War in Utah", which looks at the experience of German prisoners of war sent to Utah during both World War 1 And World War II; "Utah Remembers World War II", a volume which looks at the World War II experience of soldiers, workers, women, and children in Utah; and "The Utah Guide", a travel guide to the state published by Fulcrum Press.

His major editing projects include "The Utah History Encyclopedia", which was published by the University of Utah Press. He has recently completed a book length history of Utah's 29 counties.

While Dr. Powell was on his LDS mission to Germany, after graduating from high school, he met several German men that had been POWs in Utah. These men were more interested in relating their experiences in Utah than listening to a discussion about the Gospel.

Dr. Powell related how seeing the movie "The Great Escape" in 1963 had a great impact upon him. This movie was the spark that caused him to start researching the history of German POWs in the United State and more particularly in Utah. World War I German POWs were sent to Fort Douglas Utah and to Georgia.

World War II German POWs were sent many places throughout the United States. Utah was no exception. German POWs were in concentration camps along the Wasatch Front as far north as Tremonton and South to Salina and Richfield.

Few people remember the Salina Concentration Camp guard that killed 19 WW I POWs. These POWs and those that died during the flu epidemic of 1917 are buried at Fort Douglas.

The POWs held in the United States, during both wars, were put to work on farms and in factories. They were well fed and returned home in much better condition than prisoners sent to other countries. A few of those held in Utah returned to the USA to live. Dr. Powell has written several books on the subject POWs in America. These are available at the Utah State Historical Society, Salt Lake City.

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