Former German and Italian prisoners of war who are buried at a Kansas army post will be remembered. A wreath-laying ceremony will take place at the Fort Riley post cemetery this week.
According to the Army, the annual ceremony is held in remembrance of the POWs who lived and worked at Fort Riley between 1943 and 1946, specifically the 62 Germans and 11 Italians now buried there.
Col. Carsten Döding, German army, and Maj. Emanuele Malberti, Italian army, will be guest speakers at the event. Both officers are currently stationed at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.
In 1943, War Department officials established Fort Riley as one of 600 locations across the United States selected to house German, Italian and Japanese POWs. The camps became home for 350,000 prisoners—enough to man 35 German army divisions; approximately 4,500 were held at Fort Riley.
The POWs filled a labor void on area farms, working on roads, laundry and building maintenance projects. Prisoners earned about 80 cents a day. After the war, some of the POWs chose to stay in the local area to live and work.
The German and Italian Memorial Ceremony is open to the public. Those attending who don’t have a Department of Defense ID card must stop by the Henry Gate visitor’s center (I-70, exit 301) to get a one-day pass. DOD ID cardholders may serve as a Trusted Traveler and escort up to seven non-DOD ID cardholders in a vehicle. Only the DOD ID cardholder will need to show photo ID. For more information on Fort Riley access, visit the official Fort Riley website at https://home.army.mil/riley/ or call 785-240-0630.