Fort Riley holds German and Italian remembrance ceremony
FORT RILEY, Kan. (WIBW) - A wreath-laying ceremony for former German and Italian prisoners of war took place at the Fort Riley post cemetery, Thursday morning.
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 here.
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 to 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.
COL Michael Kopp and MAJ Giorgio Giosafatto, German and Italian Liaison officers at Fort Leavenworth, gave speeches at the ceremony and are grateful to have the remembrance ceremony.
”This is very special for us as German soldiers serving currently in the United States of America that we can remember these prisoners of war who passed away during their captivity,” said Kopp.
“To the new generation so they understand that their peace and freedom is a priceless gift, a gift from the soldier that sacrifice their life,” said Giosafatto.
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