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Camp Rupert: a forgotten part of Idaho history

Nazi POW camp provided workers for local farms
Posted at 10:18 PM, Jul 13, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-14 16:56:49-04

RUPERT, ID -- We're uncovering a piece of Idaho history many may not know about. During World War Two, England asked the U.S. Government to help with housing prisoners of war.

Great Britain simply couldn't handle the numbers. In the end, America took in close to a half a million German prisoners, including thousands who arrived here in the Gem State. They came to place known as Camp Rupert.

Anne Schenck, a local historian in the Magic Valley said she remembers it quite well. "My father-in-law had some on his farm working. All the boys were gone, off to war, so they needed help planting, and harvesting. That's basically what they did," said Schenck. 

There were 172 buildings, including a field office, hospital barracks, mess halls, chapel, commissaries, and recreational facilities. Schenck added that the prisoners were treated fairly. "The interesting thing about the camp is the P.O.W.'s had the exact medical coverage as the G.I.'s did, and they got paid."

When the war ended in 1945, the German soldiers were shipped back home. Much like it began, that's how a silent chapter in Idaho history ended. The camp was dismantled and everything put up for bid with the last of it being sold or hauled off by July of 1947.