Annual Meeting Held April 20
Seymour Community Historical Society Holds Annual Meeting
Seymour High School seniors, John Vanden Heuvel and Dennis Schneider presented their award-winning program about German WWII prisoners of war who were held in Wisconsin. In the process of doing their research, the young historians traveled to the Madison area to interview a former German soldier who was held at Lodi and Columbus. They showed the membership the culmination of their 2008 National History Day Project, a ten-minute documentary, including parts of the interview with the former POW. Dan Brice, Seymour High School U. S. History Teacher, accompanied the students and explained the nature of the history day program.
The students explained that 38 camps existed in Wisconsin to house about 20,000 prisoners of wars. The prisoners supplemented the work force, often doing agricultural or other tasks not related to the production of war materials. Not considered a threat to escape, the prisoners often ate with the farm family. The former POW interviewed the food was good and they were limited by the terms of the Geneva Convention, to no more than eight hours of work a day.
Seymour resident, Ralph Melchert, supplemented the program with recollections from the days when as a child he would accompany his father, Ray, to the canning factory to pick up a German worker. Ray, who spoke German, would pick up the worker in the morning and return him at the end of the day. The closest camp to Seymour was at Hortonville with a capacity of 305 prisoners. The Melcherts established quite a relationship with “Willie” their German worker, and traveled to Berlin to visit him in 1983.
The students did an excellent job with their presentation and considerable discussion ensued while attendees enjoyed the hospitality provided by library director Elizabeth Timmins. Ellen Piehl and Gail Dean were named to the Board of directors to replace outgoing members June Boettcher and Dan Beilfuss. The officers for 2009 remain the same: Janice Eick, secretary, Marge Coonen, treasurer, Lois Dalke, vice-president, and Bill Collar, president